Light Rail Transit Accidents in California

There are more than 7,100 organizations that provide public transportation in the U.S, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). It’s not only a much-needed service for millions of people, but it’s also big business. People use public transportation 35 million times each weekday, and it is a $58 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people, according to the APTA.

California has led the nation in transit operations. In fact, San Diego has one of the longest-standing systems, dating back to the 1880s. In those days, riders traveled in horse- or mule-drawn street cars. Now, it’s The Trolley that’s the city’s mainstay. San Diego also was one of the first cities to use a light-rail system.

There are numerous safety regulations and state standards that light rails must meet. While they are relatively safe, accidents do occur, and passengers and passersby still get injured from time to time. When a serious injury or fatality occurs, victims or their loved ones will want to consult an attorney to discuss legal options for compensation.

Light Rail Transit Accidents

It’s not often when a light rail train derails. When it does, the injuries and damages are usually horrific. Our firm handles catastrophic transit-related injuries and fatalities, as well as fewer severe cases. We have come across cases of numerous types of light rail accidents, including those below.

  • Injuries resulting from the train starting or stopping too suddenly
  • Doors closing on passengers
  • Bystanders getting struck by trains
  • Haphazard handling of the train, causing passengers to be jolted or thrown about
  • Assault injuries

When Negligence Causes Injury

The state of California holds light rail and other transit operations to high standards. California Civil Code Section 2100 provides: “A carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”

However, the transit companies and the employees sometimes fall short of their duty to use “the utmost care and diligence.” For example, speeding or failing to follow rules is negligent, as is operating the train distractedly, while sleepy or while intoxicated. Poor or faulty maintenance, failing to have adequate security and hiring drivers without performing a background check are also forms of negligence.

Whenever someone is injured as a result of a reasonably preventable light rail incident, he or she may be able to recover damages by filing an injury claim with a personal injury attorney. If the claim is approved, it’s possible to be reimbursed for injury-related expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

A Few Important Considerations

If you or a loved one were injured in a light rail train accident, you should know right off the bat that it’s more difficult to hold public transit operations accountable for negligence than it is private companies. Government-owned or managed public transportation authorities have some protections against liability because of a law referred to as The Tort Act. You can still hold them accountable; there are just specific rules and stringent time lines to which you’ll need to adhere.

These kinds of cases necessitate an attorney. Laws for filing claims against light rail authorities are different for each municipality, and the procedures aren’t only highly detailed, but also complex. Since it is so easy to make an error or to overstep the statute of limitations (which may be as short as 30 days in some cases), it is important to consult a lawyer immediately.

For an attorney who handles light rail accidents in California, call our team at Hiden Rott & Oertle, LLP. We would be happy to review your case, determine whether or not negligence was a factor, and explain your options. Contact us at 619-296-5884 for a free consult at your convenience.