Civil Claims and Public Transit
  • Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Civil Claims and Public Transit

Taking public transit is the practical option for many people in Canada, especially in busy cities in Ontario. Generally, public transit accidents are rare, but they could be life-altering when they happen. Passenger vehicles, such as buses and streetcars, carry a lot of weight, so when an accident happens, it can often lead to catastrophic injuries.

However, whether you’ll be successful in a civil claim against public transit authorities will depend on the circumstances. Therefore, if you sustain public transport injuries, you should consult with a Diamond & Diamond personal injury lawyer to explore your options.

Overview of Public Transit in Ontario

How common are public transit accidents in Ontario? They’re not at all common. Before the pandemic, residents of Ontario and Quebec took about 150 million trips a month. As of November 2021, that number fell to 56.8 million. By contrast, the Ministry of Transportation reported 354 bus accidents for all of 2020. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada recorded 965 railway accidents for the same period, of which only 42 were passenger trains.

The low incidence of public transit accidents is laudable and a testament to reliable public transportation in Ontario. Nevertheless, for the people that suffered personal injuries in an accident, it’s one accident too many. 

Types of Injuries Caused by Public Transit

Public transit systems work differently. A bus, for example, is not the same as a streetcar or a train. But when it comes to injuries, they all have a high risk of causing serious or even catastrophic injuries. The reasons are that they are large and heavy and often travel at high speeds. When you are involved in a public transit accident, you may sustain the following injuries:

Head injuries

You can sustain all types of head injuries from sudden starts or stops that cause you to fall and hit your head or come into contact with a hard object. Even if you do not come into contact with anything, whiplash is always a danger, resulting in traumatic brain injury. Head injuries may also result from being hit by a public transit vehicle or from falling while getting on or off a bus, streetcar, or train.

Spinal cord injuries

Important things to consider in public transit accidents are the head and spine. The same type of trauma that can cause head injuries may affect your spine. Sudden acceleration and deceleration can cause severe harm to your spinal cord, causing temporary or permanent loss of motor control or even paralysis.

Fractures

Whether you’re the driver, a passenger or a pedestrian, there’s a high risk of breaking your bones if you’re involved in any vehicular accident. Public transit accidents are no different, except perhaps you are more at risk because you will not be wearing a seatbelt or may even be standing up. This increases the potential for fractures.

Soft tissue injury and burns

Many victims of public transit accidents sustain relatively minor injuries, such as skin abrasions, cuts, and burns.

Duties and Liabilities of Public Transit Companies In Canada

Operators of public transit systems in Canada owe a duty of care to their passengers. They must ensure that the vehicles are roadworthy and that drivers have the training and competence to operate the vehicles. Failing in this duty can lead to severe consequences. So, who is liable for personal injuries sustained in a public transit accident? That depends on the circumstances.

A government-run bus or subway train accident may point to municipal liability. If the accident occurs in a privately-owned bus or train that is under contract with the municipality, the private company and the local government may both be liable. Moreover, one doesn’t necessarily have to be in the vehicle to sustain injuries, as a person could be injured while embarking on, or disembarking from, a bus or train.

Another complication is the involvement (or lack of) of another party. For example, if a bus hits a private car, the insurance companies may also become involved as Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS) would kick in.

On the other hand, passengers injured in a public transit accident that does not involve a collision with another vehicle or an object may not be eligible for SABS as per the exception in Section 268 of Ontario’s Insurance Act. One example is when a bus hits a pedestrian.

However, under Section 267.5, the owner or driver of a public transit vehicle has no liability protection in such cases. Thus, they may be held liable and face civil claims.

Civil Claims for Personal Injury in Public Transit

Ontario laws that apply to motor vehicle accidents seek to minimize civil claims. The at-fault driver typically has certain protections in a personal injury claim. One such protection is that the claimant must meet the legal threshold of permanent impairment or disfigurement to get compensation for general (non-pecuniary) damages, such as pain and suffering.

Another hurdle is that the claimant must prove that the general damages exceed that of the statutory deductible for automobile accidents, which, in 2022, is $41,503.50. In other words, if the claimant cannot prove this, they do not get compensation for non-pecuniary damages.

However, these protections do not apply to debilitating injuries. The extent of your injuries and the accompanying pain and suffering will determine the amount of compensation the liable parties in public transit civil claims must pay.

Contact Diamond Law Personal Injury Lawyers 

When you use public transportation, you have a right to expect that you will reach your destination safely and in one piece. If the ones in control fail in their duty of care to passengers and other people, bad things can happen.

But civil claims and public transit personal injuries are complicated issues. Depending on the circumstances, several parties may be liable for public transport injuries. Suppose you or a family member suffer catastrophic impairment or serious injuries as a result of public transit accident in Ontario. In that case, you should immediately consult with Diamond & Diamond personal injury lawyers.

We have a team of lawyers with broad experience dealing with all types of complicated cases and medical experts to provide the necessary documentation to prove your claim. We also pride ourselves on treating each of our clients with the professionalism and compassion they deserve. Diamond & Diamond Lawyers are also skilled at settling claims in the best interests of their clients.

Contact us online to receive a free evaluation of your case. You can also call 1-800-567-HURT to talk to one of our personal injury lawyers. Once we get the details of the case, we can advise you on the best strategy to file public transit civil claims.

Pro Tip

Before worrying about accident benefits or tort claims when injured in a public transit accident, please worry first about your safety. Be careful when crossing the road and hold tight to the railings provided within buses.

Civil Claims for Personal Injury in Public Transit

Ontario laws that apply to motor vehicle accidents seek to minimize civil claims. The at-fault driver typically has certain protections in a personal injury claim. One such protection is that the claimant must meet the legal threshold of permanent impairment or disfigurement to get compensation for general (non-pecuniary) damages, such as pain and suffering.

Another hurdle is that the claimant must prove that the general damages exceed that of the statutory deductible for automobile accidents, which, in 2022, is $41,503.50. In other words, if the claimant cannot prove this, they do not get compensation for non-pecuniary damages.

However, these protections do not apply to debilitating injuries. The extent of your injuries and the accompanying pain and suffering will determine the amount of compensation the liable parties in public transit civil claims must pay.

Contact Diamond Law Personal Injury Lawyers 

When you use public transportation, you have a right to expect that you will reach your destination safely and in one piece. If the ones in control fail in their duty of care to passengers and other people, bad things can happen.

But civil claims and public transit personal injuries are complicated issues. Depending on the circumstances, several parties may be liable for public transport injuries. Suppose you or a family member suffer catastrophic impairment or serious injuries as a result of public transit accident in Ontario. In that case, you should immediately consult with Diamond & Diamond personal injury lawyers.

We have a team of lawyers with broad experience dealing with all types of complicated cases and medical experts to provide the necessary documentation to prove your claim. We also pride ourselves on treating each of our clients with the professionalism and compassion they deserve. Diamond & Diamond Lawyers are also skilled at settling claims in the best interests of their clients.

Contact us online to receive a free evaluation of your case. You can also call 1-800-567-HURT to talk to one of our personal injury lawyers. Once we get the details of the case, we can advise you on the best strategy to file public transit civil claims.

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Civil Claims and Public Transit FAQs

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