Did you know that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the largest transit system in Pennsylvania and the sixth largest in the United States? This is why it’s not surprising to learn that SEPTA carries millions of people every year aboard its subways, trains, buses, and trolleys. Created by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1964 to provide public transportation to the great citizens of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Delaware Counties, SEPTA now also services citizens in Newark, Delaware and Trenton, New Jersey.
Because of the high volume of people who ride on SEPTA vehicles and the amount of miles SEPTA vehicles travel, it’s no wonder why so many passengers are injured in accidents aboard buses, trolleys, trains and subways. When people are injured in accidents involving SEPTA vehicles, they deserve justice and just compensation. Unfortunately, it is difficult for passengers injured in SEPTA accidents to collect compensation due to SEPTA’s Sovereign Immunity Act.
SEPTA and the Sovereign Immunity Act
According to Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act, SEPTA is immune from liability for the damages and injuries it causes unless the damages or injuries are caused by a dangerous condition on SEPTA property, such as a train station or platform, or SEPTA’s operation of a motor vehicle, defined as any self-propelled vehicles, including vehicles operated by rail, through water, or in the air. But the application of these exceptions to SEPTA’s immunity is not as simple as it sounds. By way of brief example, a SEPTA vehicle is not considered to be in “operation” if it is stopped, because of this, SEPTA is immune from liability if someone is injured by stepping off a SEPTA train stopped too far from the designated station.
Due to the complexity of the law and because the Sovereign Immunity Act caps damages and limits compensation available to victims, it is important that people injured in SEPTA accidents or on SEPTA’s property seek legal counsel as soon as possible to protect their rights to a claim for damages. When victims are looking for attorneys to handle their injury claims, it is critical to the case outcome that the law firm has experience handling SEPTA accident cases.
Types of SEPTA Accidents We Handle
- Bus Accidents. Buses serve numerous neighborhoods throughout Pennsylvania and transport millions of people every year. While commuting by bus is typically a safe way to travel, buses have been known to be involved in accidents due to driver error, poor maintenance, and negligence. Unfortunately, passengers onboard buses involved in collisions may suffer from head trauma, facial injuries, back injuries, broken bones, and other serious injuries.
- Subway Accidents. SEPTA’s underground subways throughout Philadelphia are often safe modes of transportation; however, subway accidents do occur from time to time due to various factors. Some common causes of subway accidents include high subway train speeds, distracted subway train operators, poor underground lighting, and objects on the track. As a result, subway trains can derail, collide with other trains, hit pedestrians, and crash into subway walls below ground. Consequently, subway passengers may suffer serious injuries in SEPTA subway accidents.
- Train Accidents. Passengers use the train to travel to the airport or as a means of commuting between Center City, Philadelphia and Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. Whether passengers are using the Regional Rail or the Norristown High Speed Line, it is possible for a train to derail, collide with another train, or even hit an animal, pedestrian, or vehicle on the tracks. When a SEPTA train accident occurs, it can cause serious injuries to passengers aboard the train.
- Trolley Accidents. Trolleys are also known as street cars or trams that typically get their power from electrical lines overhead. Although most trolleys look very similar to trains as they ride along rail lines imbedded in the street, some trolleys look like buses as they run on rubber tires. Throughout the Philadelphia region, SEPTA offers eight trolley routes and three trackless routes, all of which operate on our roadways. Whether a passenger rides aboard a trolleybus, also known as a trackless trolley, or a typical trolley, it is possible that a trolley accident with a vehicle can take place—causing a passenger serious injuries.
- Slip and Fall Accidents. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people are injured every year by slipping, tripping or falling on SEPTA’s property. And, unbeknownst to many of these people, they have a potential “premises liability” claim against SEPTA. A premises liability claim is for compensation for the injuries suffered because of the negligent maintenance, operation, or design of land or buildings owned or possessed by someone other than the injured person. When people are injured on SEPTA’s premises, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Whether you were injured on SEPTA’s premises or in a trolley accident, train accident, subway accident, or bus accident, you need to find out about your rights to a legal claim and who you can hold accountable for your injuries and losses.
Possible Liable Parties in SEPTA-Related Accidents
Depending on the specific facts of the accident, people injured in a SEPTA accident may have multiple claims due to the responsible parties involved. Some of the possible parties victims may be able to file claims against include:
- Other motorists
- Maintenance companies
- Many other parties
Sometimes victims of motor vehicle accidents may also have claims against their own insurance company for medical payments, income loss benefits, uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, funeral expenses, and much more. If an injury occurred in a slip and fall accident on SEPTA’s grounds, a victim may also have a claim against the designer and builder of the property, or the state, city or township in which the accident happened.
Available Damages After Suffering Injuries
After being injured in a SEPTA bus, train, trolley, subway, or slip and fall accident, victims may be entitled to financial compensation for the following:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Past, present, and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a SEPTA accident, it is important that you contact an attorney experienced in SEPTA accident cases. It is important that you don’t delay since there are specific time limits you have to file a lawsuit against SEPTA.
To learn more about your rights and for help protecting your right to a financial recovery, call us for a complimentary consultation at 215-569-1455. Our lawyers understand the laws surrounding SEPTA cases and have the experience you are looking for. For examples of our success in SEPTA accident cases, please visit our Notable Victories page.