Two accidents involving Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) buses in the past two weeks have left frequent riders questioning the safety of using public transportation. At the end of September, a DDOT bus slammed into the back of a U.S. Postal Service semi on Moross across from St. John Hospital. That same day, two people were injured when a DDOT bus t-boned a car at Mack Avenue and Chalmers Street. The driver of the bus was knocked unconscious and the driver of the car had to be removed from his vehicle with the Jaws of Life.
Is Mass Transit Safe?
It seems we hear weekly, if not daily, about bus or train accidents. With millions of Americans using mass public transportation, there is an immediate public safety concern where these vehicles are involved. Each year there are nearly 20,000 injures and several hundred deaths each year as a result of accidents involving public transportation. The impact of an accident can be serious, ranging from whiplash and broken bones to head injuries, injury to internal organs, and death.
The reality is that mass transit vehicles are much less likely to get involved in an accident than are personal motor vehicles. However, there are factors that (at least partially) explain why mass transit riders and other drivers are likely to be more seriously injured when buses or other large mass transport vehicles are involved in an accident.
Obviously, drivers of passenger cars hit by buses or trains are more likely to be catastrophically injured because of the size of the mass transit vehicle and therefore, the force of the collision. The speed of trains can also affect the impact of a crash. For those who are actually riding in the mass transit vehicles, they may be more seriously injured due to tip-over or roller, which is a greater risk for tall buses. Mass transportation users are also at risk due to the absence of safety features like airbags or seatbelts. In essence, there is nothing to secure them in the case of collision or impact.
“Common Carrier” Law and Public Transportation
Negligence theories underpin mass transportation injury cases just as they do other types of personal injury cases. In some states, there may actually be a higher degree for care expected in the case of “common carriers.” Common carriers usually include public buses, taxis, trolleys, and trains, and common carrier law requires them to provide a higher degree of care for passengers than is typically expected of one passenger vehicle driver toward another.
The process and statute of limitations for claims in cases of mass transit injury are often very specific. Any number of seemingly small mistakes can cost you your right to damages. It is critical for you to seek legal advice early to avoid such mistakes when you have been injured in a mass transit or public transportation accident. The auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg will be able to walk you through your claim and fight for you should the situation require it. Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE today for a free consultation on your case.