NJ Train and Bus Accident Lawyers Help Victims Pursue Maximum Compensation
Like many densely populated eastern states, New Jersey depends heavily on mass transportation options, including bus and rail. Commuters, schoolchildren, and day-tripping seniors all readily rely on various public and privately owned bus and train lines. For the most part, these modes of transportation are very safe, but a single act of negligence can easily cause widespread damage, multiple severe injuries, and the loss of several lives. At Brach Eichler, our injury lawyers are passionate about providing determined representation for victims of train and bus accidents. Most importantly, we want to see that you are properly compensated for all your losses: medical bills, lost income, and your pain and suffering. But we also want to hold these large companies and public entities accountable for negligent acts and unsafe conditions that put everyone at risk. By fighting tirelessly for you, we not only help you overcome your injuries and get your life back on track, but we also force improvements in transit protocols that make for a safer New Jersey.
Causes of bus and rail accidents in New Jersey
Bus and rail lines are very different, but there are commonalities, especially when it comes to the causes of accidents. For both modes of transportation, the leading causes of accidents include:
- Equipment failure
- Operator error
- Operator inattention or distraction
- Operator impairment due to fatigue, alcohol, or drug use
When equipment fails, the party at fault is generally the manufacturer or the maintenance company. When a bus driver or train operator makes a mistake, the company is generally liable under the legal theory of respondeat superior, a Latin phrase that means “Let the master answer (for the servant).” Determining the cause of a bus or rail accident is of paramount importance to your case. We consult skilled experts who can examine physical evidence to pinpoint the cause.
Common injuries in bus and rail accidents
Bus and train passengers are subject to the same range of injuries as victims of automobile accidents, but with an important difference. Motor vehicle passengers are more often wearing restraints when an accident occurs. Many buses and trains are not even equipped with seat belts, so riders can be thrown violently. Passengers are fortunate when they escape with minor bumps and sprains, because the results can be very serious:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Strained and torn muscles and ligaments
- Wrongful death
If you are injured in a bus or train accident, make sure you get medical treatment immediately. This is for your safety, because seemingly inconsequential injuries can worsen very quickly, and because it strengthens your legal case by creating a contemporaneous record of your injuries.
Bus and rail lines serving the Garden State
Most passenger rail lines have some connection to local, state, or federal government. The major passenger rail services in New Jersey are:
- NJ Transit — This state-owned public transportation system controls major commuter train and bus routes throughout the state.
- Amtrak — New Jersey is an important stretch of the Northeast Corridor for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, a quasi-public corporation that receives a combination of state and federal subsidies, but is managed as a for-profit organization.
- PATH — Port Authority Trans Hudson is the rail line linking stops in Newark, Harrison, Jersey City and Hoboken with New York City. PATH is operated by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which itself is a joint venture between the United States and the states of New Jersey and New York.
- SEPTA — The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is a state-created authority that runs trains into Trenton. SEPTA also operates light rail and buses.
- PATCO — This rapid transit system is operated by the Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden County, New Jersey.
- NJ River Line — This diesel tram-train light rail system operated for New Jersey Transit by the Southern New Jersey Rail Group (SNJRG), connects Camden and Trenton. The rail lines are shared with Conrail which transports freight during off hours.
- Hudson-Bergen Light Rail — Owned by New Jersey Transit and operated by the 21st Century Rail Corporation, this light rail line connects communities in Hudson County from Bayonne to North Bergen.
New Jersey Transit is the largest operator of commuter bus lines in New Jersey. Various counties, municipalities and school districts also operate bus services. The largest private and charter bus companies in the state include:
- Academy Bus
- Atlantic City Jitney Association
- Coach USA
- Greyhound Lines
- Martz Trailways
- Susquehanna Trails
Whether your accident occurred on a public transit line or a privately operated bus line makes a difference in the processing of your case. The timeframe for suing a public entity is much shorter, so you must act much more quickly.
Rules for suing NJ Transit for a bus or train accident
If you are going to bring a cause of action against a bus or train line, you have to understand its ownership structure to know the rules for suing. For example, if you are hurt in a NJ Transit bus crash, you have to know that NJT is an arm of the state government, and therefore it has immunity from lawsuits under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, Title 59. This doesn’t mean you can’t sue, but it does force you to file a Tort Claim Notice within 90 days. This shortens your window of opportunity significantly. This rule doesn’t only apply to crashes. If you suffered a slip and fall at a NJT station, you must file the Notice also.
By contrast, if you are hurt in an Amtrak crash, you might think you have to follow special rules for suing the federal government. But, as mentioned above, even though Amtrak gets federal money, it is a private entity. You can proceed as you would against any private defendant.
If you have any questions about your rights following a bus or train accident, our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to present sound advice and counsel.
Speak with an accomplished NJ train and bus accident lawyer
If you sustain an injury while riding a bus or train in New Jersey, the certified trial attorneys at Brach Eichler Personal Injury are prepared to pursue the full compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled and aggressive attorney, call us today at 973-364-8300 or contact us online.