Public Transportation Accidents
Broward County Transit (‘BCT’) covers an area of 410 square miles in south Florida, serving all of Broward County as well as parts of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties. BCT runs forty-four bus routes, with a fleet of nearly four hundred buses. More than 100,000 people ride on BCT buses every day. The Tri-Rail commuter rail system connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach with over seventy miles of track. It transports over 14,000 people each day. These systems provide a vital service to the people of south Florida, but the sheer size of buses and trains can cause considerable damage when accidents occur. A Florida public transportation accident attorney can help people injured in accidents involving public transit to determine liability and recover damages.
Types of Public Transport
Public transit agencies may operate a wide array of vehicles. Buses and trains are the most common and visible types of vehicles, but cities and counties may also use school buses, shuttle buses, vans, and ordinary cars.
Common carriers are businesses and government agencies that operate vehicles to transport people. Legally speaking, common carriers owe a higher duty of care to their passengers than the ordinary duty of “reasonable care” that the law imposes upon most people. They have this higher duty because they are entrusted with the safety and welfare of multiple people at a time, and people rely on them extensively for basic transportation needs. Florida law goes so far as to make careless or negligent management of a common carrier a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. In a civil claim for damages due to the negligence of a bus driver or bus company, proving a breach of a duty of care may be easier than in a claim against a driver of a private vehicle.
Severity of Accidents
Because buses and trains are considerably larger and heavier than regular automobiles, accidents can result in major property damage and serious bodily injury. Brain or spinal cord injuries, other disabling injuries, and death are unfortunate but common results of such accidents, much more so than in accidents that only involve cars. Operating buses and trains can also be difficult and hazardous, with reduced visibility and increased stopping time.
Suing Public Agencies
Public transportation systems in south Florida like BCT and Tri-Rail are owned and operated by county and municipal governments. The general rule is that a person cannot sue the government unless the government has specifically consented to a claim. The Florida Tort Claims Act allows people to sue local governments for personal injuries provided they follow certain procedures. The law requires people to file a legal claim within four years of their injury, and it imposes caps on the amount of damages and attorney’s fees a person can receive.
The Deerfield Beach injury attorneys at Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. represent people in the Palm Beach and Broward County who were injured in automobile and other vehicle accidents. Contact the firm through this website, or by calling us at 954-428-9333 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.