Recently, a New Jersey Transit bus traveling from Newark Airport swerved off the road and crashed in Newark. Dozens of people were injured, with complaints varying from minor injuries to broken legs. If you’re aboard a public or private bus that’s involved in an accident or traffic occurrence, do you know what to do?
Bus and Transit Companies Have a Heightened “Duty of Care” to Passengers
Bus companies and anyone else who offers transportation services to the general public in exchange for compensation are “common carriers.” Common carriers owe a heightened duty of care to their customers to protect their safety and prevent injury. Common carriers have a greater responsibility to passengers to prevent all potential injuries, including collisions, than the ordinary duty of care of all drivers to exercise reasonable care and caution.
New Jersey Transit is a public transportation corporation operating over 2,000 buses, more than 700 trains, and about 45 light rail vehicles. It is also held to the heightened standards of a “common carrier,” and owes the highest duty of care to protect its riders from collisions as well as other injuries (for example, slip-and-fall occurrences).
Common Injuries in Bus Accidents may Not Be Immediately Apparent
Because most buses do not have seat belts or other safety protections like those found in cars, those who are involved in bus accidents can be seriously injured. The most common injuries passengers suffer on public transport are:
- Sprained or torn ligaments
- Back and spine injuries
- Lacerations, contusions, and abrasions (cuts, bruises, and scrapes)
Immediately after being involved in a bus accident, you may not realize the extent of your injuries. If you aren’t transported to a hospital from the scene of the accident, make an appointment to see a doctor or medical professional as soon as possible if you suspect you may have an injury. If you develop pain or injuries within a few days of the occurrence, see a medical professional immediately for evaluation. Sometimes the initial swelling and bruising can obscure more serious injuries until it subsides.
What to Do at the Scene of an Accident
Accidents involving buses or other common carriers can be caused by negligence on the part of the driver or bus company. Even if negligence isn’t the cause, however, it may still be possible to recover for your injuries because of the heightened duty of care required of common carriers.
If you are able to do so at the scene, gather as much information as possible. Using your cell phone or handheld device is an easy way to gather and preserve documentation. Take photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, and your own injuries. If you talk to witnesses, make sure you get their contact information; even better, record their statements on video if they allow it.
It’s also a good idea to write down notes as soon as possible detailing everything you notice about the scene and remember about the occurrence and your injuries. These notes can include details like the time of day, weather conditions, and other observations about the experience as well as the circumstances of the accident. Notes about how the driver reacted verbally and any actions you observed he or she taking to avoid the collision are helpful, too.
Speak With a New Jersey Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bus accident, our personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you. Claims against state or local municipalities or public transit agencies are subject to numerous confusing and complicated rules. You must file a personal injury claim within a specific statute of limitations period, which can be as little as 30-60 days in public transportation injury lawsuits, so don’t delay!
Our attorneys have successfully represented clients who have been involved in bus accidents, including New Jersey interstate vehicle accidents, and have obtained compensatory damages for their injuries.
Contact the Mark Law Firm to speak to one of our New Jersey car accident lawyers today by calling 908-375-6767 or 973-607-3823 or by filling out the "contact us" form on this website.