Public transportation, such as buses, trains and subways, provide convenience for thousands of commuters in New Jersey. For some, it is their only mode of transport, while others use city transportation to save money. However, despite the crucial need for this service, it could be hazardous for passengers and other road users.
If you are a frequent user of public transportation, you could be at risk of suffering personal injury due to vehicular accidents or assault. Further threats include contracting a contagious disease or being a victim of a crime. A bus driver's negligence in another state caused a passenger's fractured spine when the bus bounced over a speed bump at double the speed limit. She sued the transit company, and the jury awarded a sizeable monetary judgment.
Considerations before taking legal action
If you or a loved one is suffering misery and pain caused by an incident that happened while commuting to work or elsewhere, you could pursue financial relief through the New Jersey civil justice system. However, the following aspects will need consideration:
- Required safety standard: When determining negligence, the court will consider the level of safety provided by the entity that provided the transport. Common carriers are typically held to a higher level of safety standards.
- Who was the operator? Before you can file a lawsuit, you must determine whether the owner or operator of the service was a public or private entity. Different procedures apply for government, private or school transportation incidents.
- Notice of claim: If your suit is against a public agency, you must file notice to inform the government of your intention to claim. The Tort Claims Act of the state will determine how many days after the incident you have to file such a notice.
- How much can you recover? Although it is your legal right to claim recovery of all your damages, the state might cap the value of an award for damages. Regardless of the amount of damages the jury awards, you will not receive more than allowed by the state's cap statute.
- Is there a third party? Along with the bus driver, the operator of the service and the owner of the vehicle, you could name other parties as defendants. If a mechanical failure caused the accident, the manufacturer might be responsible for a manufacturing defect, or the company that does maintenance on the bus might be liable.
Your legal rights
You need not suffer the consequences of another party's negligence on your own. Although exercising your legal rights might seem a daunting task, help is available. Experienced legal counsel can explain your rights and options under New Jersey laws and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the ensuing legal proceedings.