I Was Injured on Public Transportation. What Should I Do?
Public transportation is defined as transportation modes that have set schedules and usually requires the public to pay a fare. There may be discounted or free fares for the elderly, students, veterans, and disabled. It typically includes bus, subway, and commuter train service. People rely on public transportation to get to school, work, or area businesses. If there’s a problem and you’re injured while using public transportation, that carrier may be liable.
Public transportation is a safe, convenient way to travel. Information from the FTA and NHTSA finds that public transportation on a bus is 10 times safer than using a car. Commuter rail is 18 times safer. It also eliminates the need to find parking in the city and deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic.
These companies are bound by the rules of common carriers. They have a duty to transport their passengers safely. As a result, they must take reasonable steps to keep you from being harmed. That doesn’t mean accidents will never happen. There’s no way to guarantee safety when other drivers, weather, or other hazards may appear. If you are injured while using public transportation, here’s what you need to do.
See a Doctor
The first thing you must do is see a doctor. Paramedics that arrive at the scene will treat you. If you’re sent to the ER by ambulance, try to get names. Don’t leave the hospital until the doctor clears you. You may want to shorten your stay to avoid high medical bills, but you need to stay. You could have a concussion or internal injuries that don’t present themselves until the shock starts to wear off.
Keep track of all of the instructions the doctor gives you. There will be printouts and possibly prescriptions and follow-up appointments. Make sure you get the prescriptions filled and take them as instructed. Attend any additional appointments, even if you’re feeling fine and think it’s unnecessary. You don’t want to go into court and have the defense team say you worsened your injuries by ignoring what the doctor said.
Give Your Information to the Authorities
Whatever agency is assigned to investigate the crash needs to have your contact information. Make sure they do. Answer their questions, get a case number, and make sure you have the investigator’s information. To file a complaint against the public transportation company, they need to be found liable. If another driver crashed into the bus or train running a stop sign or traffic signal, you’ll file the complaint against that driver.
You need to stay updated. You want to know what the investigator discovers. The public transportation company would be liable if their driver had improper training, was texting while driving or operating the controls, or was drunk. If you found their equipment failed the inspection but they didn’t take that bus or train out of service, they’d also be liable. If there is any liability on their part, you could sue for loss of income, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages.
Take Time to Recover
Losing income for days or weeks is frightening, but it’s important that you recover. Take the time you need to heal physically and mentally. You may find it hard to use public transportation due to anxiety. If you have to have a friend drive you or rely on taxis for now, keep track of the cost. You may not be able to avoid anxiety and panic attacks following the accident. If you do find anxiety creeping into your daily routines, see a counselor trained in PTSD therapies as soon as you can. The sooner you’re started on a treatment plan, the easier it is to learn how to recognize signs of panic and use the appropriate method to manage the symptoms.
Track the hours of work you miss, the cost of counseling, and any alternative transportation you pay for. Be detailed and keep paperwork and journal entries to offer as evidence if needed. The money you lose in income and to medical bills can be recovered if you file a personal injury claim against the public transportation company and they’re found to be at fault.
Consult With an Expert in Common Carrier Laws
It’s important that you talk to an attorney who knows common carrier laws. It can be a tricky area to understand without an expert’s advice. You must prove the carrier was liable. Carpenter & Zuckerman has experts that can help. Our California personal injury law firm offers free consultations at any hour through live chat or by calling 888-CZR-FIRST. You don’t have to find time to make a call during work hours. We’re available 24/7 for you.
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