Liability in public transit accidents
Public transit systems located throughout Ontario offer a convenient and inexpensive method for people to travel about. The GO transit system servicing the Toronto and Hamilton areas now carries more than 70 million passengers each year. Other bus and rail systems are equally as popular with local residents and visitors. As with other means of transportation, such as cars, accidents can happen and people can suffer serious injuries. Recovering compensation against a public transit system can be difficult, but it is not impossible with the help of experienced personal injury lawyers aggressively investigating and pursuing the claim.
The rights of accident victims
Public transit accidents happen with less frequency than other travel methods, but they do occur. According to the most recent annual report on railway safety from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, there were 1035 accidents and 66 deaths on the nation’s railways. The most recent report from the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario reported 637 bus collisions and six deaths in bus accidents in the province in a 12-month period.
Municipalities operating public transit systems may be liable for injuries suffered by individuals due to accidents caused by negligence in the operation, maintenance or other factors related to the bus, train or other transit vehicle. It is not only passengers making use of the transit system who can seek compensation in the event of an accident. Pedestrians and drivers of private vehicles involved in a collision with public transit vehicles or trains could also have a claim against a municipality.
Negligence and public transit accidents
A claim for recovery of compensation from another party, whether it is a municipality or a private individual, due to negligence must be based upon the following elements:
- There must have been a duty of care owed to the person injured by the other party.
- The party owing the duty breached a recognized standard of care.
- The breach of the standard of care caused the foreseeable injuries for which compensation is sought.
- The injured party suffered actual damages.
A passenger who is tossed from the seat of a transit bus and injured when a driver makes sudden stop to avoid hitting a car might be able to prove each of the elements of negligence if the bus operator was following too closely. However, unless there was an actual collision, there could be an obstacle standing in the way of the passenger collecting compensation.
The Insurance Act of Ontario imposes a limitation on the ability of someone riding a transit bus or other form of public transit to make a claim for Statutory Accident Benefits. Unless there is an actual collision with another vehicle, the law does not classify a near miss as a motor vehicle accident.
A person using public transit who is injured in a collision between the public transit vehicle and another vehicle may be entitled to file a claim for SABS. If the injured party owns a car, the claim would be filed with the company insuring the car. Passengers who do not own personal vehicles could file the claim with the municipality operating the public transit system.
Personal injury lawyers familiar with the laws as they apply to public transit can assist a person injured in an accident to determine the types of claims that can be made and the party who might be liable. For example, a passenger injured while riding on a public transit bus in Toronto that collides with a car could have a claim against both the municipality and the operator of the car depending upon how the accident happened.
Ontario personal injury lawyers
The team of personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for people injured in public transit accidents. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations. Our team of personal injury lawyers represents clients throughout Ontario.