Accidents that involve commuter trains, busses or airplanes often present unique circumstances. There is usually much more at stake than your average automobile fender-bender because of the potential for many more injuries or deaths. Riders use public transportation with the expectation that they will arrive at their destination without incident. Thus, the rules regarding accidents are a little different.
1. What Is a Common Carrier?
Common carriers transport goods or people between destinations. The state or federal agencies that regulate most carriers maintain a very high standard of proficiency concerning safety. Operators are not held to the same criteria as an average person would be, but rather an elevated level of competence expected from a “reasonably careful operator.” A simple misjudgment by an ordinary driver in a passenger vehicle may injure a few people; however, the same error by a carrier operator could potentially injure or kill dozens of people.
2. Who Is Liable for the Accident?
Because of the potential for a high volume of legal action after a carrier accident, local and state governments have special rules that dictate the procedure for filing an injury claim against an entity like a public transit authority. These rules, called “Tort Claims Acts,” often give you a certain amount of time after the accident to file a claim. If you don’t give them this notice, it could prevent a personal injury law firm Hillsborough County from filing a lawsuit and preclude you from receiving compensation for your injuries.
3. What Should I Do if I’m in an Accident?
If you are a passenger on a common carrier and an incident occurs, you could follow these steps:
- Stay calm and listen for any public address announcements
- Follow instructions from the operator or first responders
- Search for an emergency exit, assist if able or necessary and leave safely
- Call 911 or notify emergency services or police
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Keep any documentation from doctors, hospitals, police or witness statements
It also might not hurt to familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures typically posted somewhere within the vehicle so that you may prepare yourself better for the unlikely event of an accident.
Whether you ride the subway to work every day or are boarding a plane for the first time, there is no reason to believe that anything catastrophic will happen. Still, a little knowledge and foresight could help your situation should you find yourself in the middle of an emergency.