Can I sue for injuries involving a public bus, subway or commuter train?
Hundreds of people — passengers, pedestrians and motorists — are injured each year in mass transit accidents in the Baltimore area. Some people forfeit their right to compensation by waiting too long to bring a claim. Other victims never pursue legal action, believing that government entities are immune.
A public transit agency can be held liable — the same as an individual or corporate entity — but there are special rules and restrictions. Your best recourse is to work with a lawyer who has actually filed and won such claims.
Do I have to be a public transit passenger to sue the transit agency?
No. Pedestrians who were struck by a bus or train, while crossing the street or waiting at the station or bus stop, may have claims. Occupants of other vehicles that collided with a bus or train may have grounds to sue. And of course, passengers who suffered lasting injury while riding, boarding or unboarding may have claims. According to Metrobus, the most common “customer injuries” (passengers) are collision-related, followed by slips, trips and falls.
What is different about suing the MTA or WMATA?
Citizens who are injured in an incident involving a public bus, subway or train are entitled to seek monetary compensation. There are two key considerations in claims against the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) or the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA):
- For a regular personal injury claim, the statute of limitations is three years. Actions against the MTA or WMATA must be filed within one year of the accident.
- Under Maryland statute, the state cannot be liable to any individual for damages greater than $400,000. The financial impact of a disabling accident or loved one’s death could exceed this cap.
Can I sue a public transit employee?
In general, public employees are shielded from personal liability. Even if the employee is fired, that person usually cannot be sued directly except in cases of extreme negligence or intentional acts. Also, a bus driver or transit employee injured on the job cannot sue a fellow employee.
Can I bring the claim myself?
Claims against a public entity are not “easy money.” The claimant must demonstrate negligence of the transit agency. You must prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. You must spell out and justify each element of damages. The more serious the injuries, the more important it is to have an experienced personal injury lawyer who can maximize your compensation.
Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, has served Baltimore City and Baltimore County for more than 20 years, including clients who commute to and from D.C. Our firm has recovered damages in public transit cases such as Metrobus, Metrorail, Baltimore Light Rail and MTA local and express buses. Discuss your situation in a free consultation at 410-234-0100.