What to Do If You Are Injured While Using Public Transportation

by Julien G. Lamothe

It’s easy to assume public transportation is safer than driving our own cars. Every time we get onto a bus, train or streetcar or other forms of public transport, we’re placing our trust in the driver’s competency.

Yet, accidents do happen, and getting the medical care you need might prove costly. Public transport accidents often involve multiple parties, and it can be challenging to know where to start when making a claim.

Private Business vs. Government System

In Louisiana, buses and streetcars are a widely used form of public transportation. Both federally and in Louisiana, “common carriers” include buses operated by private businesses.

Under the common carrier law, a driver must safely operate the vehicle. When common carrier law is involved, establishing liability can be a straightforward process.

However, the common carrier law does not cover contract carrier busses. If your bus has an accident, you should confirm whether it was a common carrier or a contract carrier. Your lawyer can help you determine who holds liability in the case of a contract carrier.

If your bus or streetcar was not a common carrier or a contract carrier, then it’s likely operated by a government system, like a school district or municipality. When facing a governmental system, it can be harder to establish liability. The companies, government authorities, and insurance carriers will try to deflect responsibility from their employees onto you.

Exemptions to Common Carrier Law

The common carrier law doesn’t cover everything that could cause an accident. Uncontrollable external circumstances, including criminal activity or extreme weather conditions, act as an exemption from liability.

Filing an Injury Claim Against a Governmental Entity

Filing an injury claim against a governmental system is more complicated than suing a private entity. When you file against a governmental entity, there’s a shorter window of time and specific protocols. Mistakes can cost you not only your compensation but also your right to sue.

In Louisiana, all civil actions have a one-year statute of limitations, so you must file your claim within this period.

First, you will need to file a notice of claim providing accurate, comprehensive details of your accident. The document also requires you to provide evidence of your injury and the accident. Once completed, this claim will be filed with the appropriate governmental entity.

Taking action without legal representation against a governmental system is risky. It’s easy to make mistakes. You could miss important information, file with the wrong governmental system, or miss deadlines. You will benefit from the support and experience of a professional lawyer equipped to handle your case.

Seek Medical Help

If you’re injured, you must receive medical treatment. Allow paramedics on the accident scene to treat you, or go to the hospital as soon as possible.

If you plan to file a suit, you’ll need paperwork proving your injuries and that you sought appropriate treatment. Keep track of important facts related to your injuries, including medical bills, appointments with medical professionals, and income lost due to time off work.

Collect Evidence

Collect as much information as you can about the scene and cause of the accident. Take photographs of significant evidence, including damage and injuries. Record the names and contact details of other passengers, witnesses, and officers.

Connect with the Authorities

Although it can be hard to think clearly when you’re in an accident, you may need to talk with the authorities investigating the case. By interacting with authorities, you’ll be able to provide and obtain crucial information. Remember to get their names and contact details to help you stay updated on new developments related to the accident.

Accidents on Other Kinds of Public Transportation

Taxis are another popular form of public transportation in Louisiana, and since they contend with busy streets, navigating traffic, and a multitude of distractions, serious accidents can occur.

Taxi drivers are typically independent contractors. Classification as a contract carrier can complicate insurance questions, making it hard to know which insurance company is responsible for your claim. You or or your lawyer will need to determine if the taxi driver is solely liable, or if the taxi company holds partial fault.

Getting an admission of liability can be difficult because the taxi driver will not want to lose their livelihood, and the company won’t want to face legal consequences.

Contact Us

An experienced personal injury lawyer at Lamothe Law Firm can help you understand complex laws and guide you through the steps to making a claim. Lamothe Law Firm is here to give you the support you need. Contact us to schedule your free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

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