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Injured on public transport? Here’s what you can do to claim compensation

bus transport passenger
(© dusanpetkovic1 –

We all use public transport every day. Whether that is taxis, buses, or trains, they’re a big part of our daily commuting.

But what happens when you get injured on public transport – say, a public bus?

Do you just walk home, treat yourself, and count your losses?

Oh, far from it.

Public transports are as responsible for passengers’ safety as private transport. So, if you get injured in one, you have the same right as in normal personal injuries to file a claim against the owner of the public transport company.

How to do that is what you’re here to learn.

Note: If you’re ever involved in a car accident, whether public or private transport, click that link to find an attorney to help you file your claim.

Introducing the common carrier law

Ever heard the term common carrier before?

Well, the term is a legal term connected to companies and businesses that own and run public transports – that is, metros, trolleys, taxis, trains, buses, school buses, etc.

The common carrier law is a law that demands owners of public transports to provide a higher degree of care and safety to passengers than what’s offered in regular transports.

In simpler terms, what this law is saying is that if you own public transport, say a bus, you’re expected to provide better protection for passengers; even better than what they’ll get in their own cars.

Now, in the unfortunate event that a passenger suffers an accident or an injury while under the watch of a public transport company, such a person has the right to invoke the “Common Carrier” law against the transport company.

Interestingly, the chances of that person winning the case is even higher than in personal injury cases because the common carrier law demands transportation companies to offer greater protection to passengers.

So, for example, let’s say a bus driver swerved unexpectedly and threw you to the floor, breaking your fingers in the process. You can easily charge and win a lawsuit against the owner of the bus.

By and large, thanks to the common carrier law, holding public transport companies responsible for your injuries are prettier easier than holding, say, a ridesharing company like Uber.

Challenges to invoking the common carrier law

Invoking the common carrier law to win an injury claim in a public transport accident is not as simple as telling the judge, “I got injured in their bus and got hospitalized for 14 days. So, I demand compensation.”

There are two major hurdles you need to get past. These challenges include:

  • 1. Find out whether the common carrier law works in your state
    Unfortunately, this law doesn’t hold in every state. To invoke it, you need to first find out whether there’s even anything like that in your state.
    You can contact a car accident lawyer around you to find out.
  • 2. You must be able to prove negligence – that is, prove that the driver of the public transportation was, indeed, negligent.

Proving negligence

Let’s assume your accident happened in a state where public carriers are subjected to the common carrier law; you’re expected to prove that your injury really happened as a result of the carrier’s negligence.

How do you prove this?

It is pretty simple. You just have to understand what happened in the event leading to the accident.

For example, was the driver chatting with another passenger and got distracted? Was he on a telephone call while driving? Did you notice he was drunk-driving?

By and large, all you have to do to prove negligence in a accident claim is to find out what the driver did wrong that contributed to the accident.

This will be your story when your case gets to the court of law.

How to make a claim

Unlike other general personal injury lawsuits, you can’t just wake up one day and file a common carrier lawsuit against a public transport company. You have to adhere to the notice deadlines and time deadlines requirements in public transport lawsuit.

That is, before you go ahead to file a claim, you’re first expected to notify the company of the accident and its circumstances.

This is because most public transport companies are owned by as municipal or state agencies.

Note that these deadlines vary from state to state. In some states, you have up to three months of notice. In other states, you have less than six months to notify the company about the incident.

Story by Uday Tank

augusta free press
augusta free press