Our Philadelphia SEPTA accident lawyer represents people injured in SEPTA bus, train, trolley, and subway accidents. SEPTA accident cases can be extremely complex. This is due, in part, to the partial immunity granted SEPTA as a governmental agency.
SEPTA’s Limited Liability / Immunity
As a governmental agency, SEPTA is governed by the Pennsylvania Sovereign Immunity Act. Under the Act, SEPTA’s liability is limited to accidents:
- that were caused by its negligence, and
- that occurred while the involved vehicle (or any part thereof) was “in operation”
A vehicle is considered in operation only if it is moving. Thus, SEPTA is shielded from liability for accidents that occur while a SEPTA vehicle is at a standstill, even if the accident resulted from SEPTA negligence. (In some cases, SEPTA may be liable for negligently caused injuries that occurred when a part of a vehicle (such as a door) was in motion.)
Damages in SEPTA accident cases are also capped under this law. SEPTA’s liability is limited to $250,000 per injured person and a total of $1 million for each SEPTA accident.
SEPTA Accident Reporting / Notice Requirements
SEPTA accident victims are also subject to strict notice requirements of a victim’s intent to sue. Before filing a negligence claim against SEPTA, an injured party must notify SEPTA of the accident and intent to sue within 6 months of the accident. This notice is given by filling out a form provided by SEPTA.
SEPTA accidents can result in significant injuries or death to SEPTA passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and pedestrians. SEPTA has installed surveillance cameras on its buses, trolleys, subways, and trains. While the cameras were intended to identify fraudulent claims, they frequently enable our Philadelphia SEPTA accident lawyer to obtain crucial evidence regarding a client’s case.
SEPTA can be liable for passenger injuries caused by SEPTA’s negligence on a moving train, subway, bus, or trolley. The agency can also be liable for passenger injuries negligently caused by moving parts of SEPTA vehicles, such as an opening or closing door.
SEPTA passengers are unprotected by seatbelts and can sustain significant injuries in collision and other accidents. Injuries sustained by SEPTA passengers may include:
- concussions / brain damage
- amputations / limb loss
- spinal cord damage
- head and neck injuries
Note: The manner in which damages are collected by injured SEPTA passengers may depend upon whether the passenger owns an insured motor vehicle or lives with someone with vehicle insurance.
SEPTA may also be liable for injuries negligently caused to drivers and passengers of other vehicles. Collisions between cars and SEPTA buses, trolleys, or trains can cause massive damage and devastating injuries. SEPTA negligence that can result in liability to drivers and passengers of automobiles includes:
- driving while using cell phone or other distracted driving
- driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- aggressive or reckless driving
- traffic law and road rule violations
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable of SEPTA accident victims. Accidents involving pedestrians and large vehicles such as buses or trains frequently result in death or life-long, catastrophic injuries.
SEPTA operators owe pedestrians the same duty of care they owe to drivers and passengers of other vehicles and an even greater duty to child pedestrians. Negligence resulting in liability to injured pedestrians may include:
- speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and other traffic law violations
- failing to give pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks
- failing to keep a lookout for children near schools and parks