Public Transit Accidents: Unique Considerations for Victims

Public Transit Accidents: Unique Considerations for Victims

Less than a week after a SEPTA bus crashed head-on into a car in Philadelphia, another public transit accident claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy last night and injured numerous other people. These crashes illustrate some of the unique challenges that face the victims of public transportation crashes. If the most recent crash were subject to Pennsylvania law, the victims would likely have to race each other to receive fair compensation.

While last week’s Black Friday SEPTA bus accident only injured four passengers and the other vehicle’s driver, the second crash killed one person and injured at least 13 others. That wreck happened when a bus driver unsuccessfully swerved to avoid a pedestrian. Instead, the bus hit the pedestrian before crashing into a nearby house in a New York City suburb.

A 6-year-old boy died in the house and his brother suffered injuries. The pedestrian survived the crash with injuries and 11 of the 20 passengers were also hurt.

Under Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act, a lawsuit against a government agency like a transportation authority is subject to very tight limits. Each victim can recover only $250,000 and total claims from any single accident cannot exceed $1 million. This cap applies regardless of the number of victims. A PA accident attorney understands the nuances of state traffic laws.

If this fatal crash had happened in Philadelphia, the victims would likely exhaust these limits and some injured people would not receive fair compensation. The boy’s parents would likely have had a claim for wrongful death – given the boy’s age and the negligent driving that led to his death, they could very easily have reached the $250,000 limit. That would leave only $750,000 to cover the medical and rehabilitation costs of 13 other victims.

This case illustrates how important it is for public transportation accident victims to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. With tight limits on recovery against the government, there is not always enough to fairly compensate all of the victims.

Source: Washington Post, “Suburban NYC bus hits pedestrian, slams into home, killing 6-year-old boy inside; 11 hurt,” Nov. 28, 2012


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