What Happens When You Get Hurt While Riding On Public Transit?


Senior man reading a book while commuting by bus.

Getting hurt on public transit can come as quite a shock, but you could have possible legal recourse. This recourse most often comes from “common carrier” laws, which recognize the trust we put into transit systems when we use them. Common carriers are expected to uphold an even higher standard of care than the average person because of this trust.

At the same time, states have certain notice requirements when trying to raise civil suits against their agencies. This group of laws is known as the State Tort Claims Act.

Learn more about common carrier lawsuits, New Jersey’s notice requirements and how a personal injury attorney can help your case by reading on.

“Common Carrier” Negligence When Hurt on Public Transit

Conventional negligence claims require three showings:

A Duty of Care

A responsibility to watch out for or protect people from certain risks

A Breach in that Duty

An action that directly violated the expected duty of care or was extremely likely to result in a lapse in that duty

A Resulting Injury

A substantial injury must have occurred as a direct result of the negligent incident

Within these legal tests, most juries and legal entities are asked to consider care from the perspective of a “reasonably competent person.” However, common carrier agencies like public bus systems, light rail, and even taxi companies have a higher standard of care towards their passengers than an average person would.

In the words of New Jersey courts:

“A common carrier must exercise a high degree of care to protect its passengers from dangers that are known or are reasonably foreseeable.  Carriers must use the utmost caution to protect their passengers, the kind of caution that is characteristic of a very careful and prudent person.  A carrier must act with the highest possible care consistent with the nature of the undertaking involved.”

Therefore, plaintiffs whose injuries occurred under the oversight of a common carrier have additional legal weight for their claims. Yet, they also have more restrictions in terms of the way they carry out their claim because of states’ protections against civil lawsuits, which are collectively known as State Tort Claims Acts.

New Jersey State Tort Claims Act Limitations

New Jersey law requires that all tort claimants must file notice of their complaints to the state within 90 days of the original incident. The state also places strict statutes of limitations on when the actual claim is filed, which most commonly conform to two years’ time.

This period may vary depending on the nature of the claim and the circumstances surrounding the injury, so make sure you act quickly with the help of a personal injury lawyer to avoid missing out on your critical time window.

You must also be prepared to assemble a significant amount of documentation for the incident and your injury since state agencies have extensive legal resources to help them prepare for situations like civil lawsuits.

If you have been injured on public transit, contact Peter N. Davis & Associates, LLC today. You will receive a free consultation regarding your case and can possibly start pursuing your claim immediately.

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