Many San Mateo residents rely on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to get to and from San Francisco, Oakland and other destinations around the area. Fortunately, derailments and crashes are rare. Unfortunately, when they occur, they can result in multiple serious injuries and fatalities. You’re more likely to be injured by something more mundane (yet painful and potentially debilitating) like a fall caused by missing floor tile or a sudden jolt of the train.
If you suffer an injury in a subway, train or light rail vehicle or station that could or should have been prevented by those responsible for it, whom can you hold liable? It can be a bit complicated because public transportation systems are usually managed and owned by government entities.
For example, BART is run by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. That district, which was established by the state legislature back in the 1950s, includes the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Marin and Contra Costa.
In some cities, such as New York, trains owned by different entities, both private and public, operate in the same stations. For example, if you travel across the country on Amtrak, you may pull into Grand Central Station next to a New York Metro Transit Authority train. If the two trains collide, the steps needed to file a lawsuit could be based on which train was responsible.
Lawsuits for injuries in and around mass transit systems may be impacted by something called “sovereign immunity.” That means that a government entity has to consent to a lawsuit against it.
Some states have waived their sovereign immunity rights, while others have established damage caps and limits on how long plaintiffs have to file a Notice of Claim. These can be as short as 30 days. If you or a loved one has been injured in a subway, train or station and you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit, it’s wise to seek legal guidance as quickly as possible to determine what your options are.