Although most people are acutely aware of the dangers of traffic accidents on our roads, many disregard the very real, though less common, risks to using mass transit. Hundreds of people die in traffic and mass transits accidents in New Jersey each year; many others suffer serious, or even catastrophic injuries or become permanently disabled. While mass transit accidents are not nearly as common as traffic accidents, when they do occur they affect much larger numbers of people, often tragically.
If you have been seriously injured on mass transit, you may be entitled to compensation for all that you have suffered physically, emotionally and financially. If you have lost a loved one in such an event, you have the legal recourse of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Unlike traffic accidents, in which either driver’s actions may have played a significant role, the vast majority of victims in mass transit accidents are innocent passengers. If you have been injured on a bus or train operated by New Jersey Transit, a PATH train or an MTA vehicle, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to negotiate, and if necessary, vigorously litigate on your behalf to make sure that you receive the full compensation you deserve. At Nagel Rice LLP, our practice is comprised of outstanding lawyers with track records of successful outcomes. As a matter of fact, we have won over a billion dollars in damages for our clients. From our two offices, one in Roseland and one in New York City, we serve clients throughout Essex, Morris, Bergen, Hudson, Union, Passaic, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties.
Reasons People Use Mass Transit
In many situations, public transportation is a more convenient method of getting from one place to another than driving. In the case of trains, the path may be much more direct and stop-and-go traffic is avoided entirely. Because individuals riding on buses or trains are always passengers, many find the ride more relaxing than being at the wheel. In other cases, people may feel free to accomplish tasks while riding public transportation that they would never be able to do if they had to focus on driving. A large number of people who use mass transit do not own or drive a car, finding it far more efficient and cost-effective to travel without worrying about purchasing, leasing, insuring, parking, or repairing their own vehicle. Though aware of, and even prone to complain about, the delays and lack of cleanliness or comfort on mass transit, they still prefer it to the well-documented hassles of driving.
Causes of Mass Transit Accidents
Despite regulations that govern the maintenance and replacement of buses, trains and their tracks, tunnels and bridges, and despite the vetting and prerequisites required of those who operate public vehicles, a surprisingly large number of mass transit accidents occur. Reasons for mass transit accidents include:
- Broken or defective equipment
- Driver error or violations (e.g. ignoring signals)
- Driver impairment by alcohol or drugs
- Driver drowsiness or fatigue
- Incorrect structural design or engineering of equipment
Beyond these causes of mass transit accidents, there are also those that are the result of sudden severe weather-related events, or unpredictable occurrences (such as an obstacle or person on the train tracks). There is also the possibility that accidents involving public transportation can be the result of the malice or intentional conduct.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Mass Transit Accidents
In addition to suffering cuts and bruises in mass transit accidents, many people suffer severe fractures, crush injuries, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries. Some of the most catastrophic of these injuries may lead to paralysis, cognitive impairment, or other permanent disabilities.
What kind of compensation are you entitled to after suffering serious personal injury in a mass transit accident?
As competent personal injury attorneys, our job is to investigate all aspects of your case, both in terms of the reasons for the accident and in terms of your physical injuries, emotional trauma and how long your recovery is likely to take. We will also be looking into whether you are likely to be dealing with any future disability, since it is crucial that we know how much compensation you will needing to cover future, as well as present, expenses.
Depending upon how fault for the accident is determined, we should be able to get you compensatory damages for:
- Medical, surgical and rehabilitative costs
- Lost wages during recovery
- Lost earning capability in the future
- Property damage
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering (e.g. increased anxiety, PTSD)
- Permanent disability
In addition to compensatory damages, if the fault carries a degree of extreme negligence, such as uninspected or improperly maintained equipment, or driver intoxication, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
Punitive damages are designed to punish egregious behavior on the part of those responsible for the accident and to serve as a deterrent others who might be tempted to engage in similarly outrageous misconduct.
Common Mass Transit Accidents
Even though mass transit accidents are rare compared to car accidents, there are some types that we hear about more frequently than others.
Subway Accidents: Subway accidents may result from sudden stops, often because of an obstacle or person on the tracks, derailment, insufficient maintenance or improper equipment installation, slips (or pushes) and falls from the subway platform, assault on a train or in the subway station, or entrapment between subway doors. Though less common, some subway accidents originate with improperly maintained equipment or the failure to inspect and replace faulty pieces of equipment.
Bus Accidents: Bus accidents, because they occur on city streets, usually originate in similar ways to other traffic accidents, such as collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects such as streetlights. Bus accidents can also occur because of bad weather that makes driving hazardous, poorly repaired vehicles, or irresponsible or ill drivers. A certain number of bus accidents occur as passengers are boarding or disembarking, sometimes at bus stops where there are unrepaired potholes or uncleared patches of ice or snow.
Train Accidents: Train accidents can occur when one train collides with another, either because one driver did not obey the signals or because the signals themselves were defective. Train accidents also happen at railroad crossings when a car, bicycle, or person appears on the tracks and the driver does not have sufficient time to stop or stops so abruptly that some passengers are injured.
On all three types of mass transit — subways, buses, and trains — it is possible to suffer a personal injury as a result from mechanical failure, or operator fatigue or impairment. It is also, unfortunately, possible for a passenger to be injured by another passenger on the vehicle or in the station. A certain percentage of train and bus passengers are physically assaulted, robbed or raped during the course of using mass transit. Depending on the particular circumstances, the mass transit company may be held liable for such an attack.
How Nagel Rice LLP Can Help You Win Your Case
If you have suffered a severe personal injury on mass transit and are a resident of New Jersey, you owe it to yourself to consult with the highly competent personal injury attorneys of Nagel Rice. The more quickly you seek our counsel, the more completely we will be able to protect your rights. Also, you have 90 days from the accident to provide notice of your intention to file a claim against NJ TRANSIT or PATH. Though exceptions are occasionally made, it’s necessary to move quickly. It is important that you avoid meeting with the other party’s insurance company before talking to us since their representative will almost certainly pressure you to make a quick settlement for a smaller amount than you deserve. Our law practice, on the other hand, has your interests are our first priority.
Contact A New Jersey Mass Transit Lawyer
We have extensive experience in personal injury law, are savvy negotiators and powerful litigators. Not only do we have in-depth comprehension of the regulations governing public transportation, but we are compassionate individuals. We want nothing more than to protect you from injustice and make sure you receive every dollar of compensation to which you are entitled. By handling all the legal aspects of your case, we hope to give you the time you need to heal from your physical injuries and your emotional trauma. We can be reached by phone or by filling out one of the contact forms on our website.