Public transportation and ridesharing are becoming more and more popular, especially now that people have started moving back to cities like Philadelphia. Even though ridership numbers had decreased in the wake of a transit worker strike in November 2016, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was still seeing an average of 767,000 trips on its public transportation lines every single day. The lion's share of these rides happens in or near the center of Philadelphia, where most of the routes begin or end.
In addition to public transportation, there are also numerous other ways to get from one place to another without driving your own car or walking. Lyft, Uber, taxis or other private transportation options are also in the city.
With so many different options and so many miles covered by each, it is no surprise that thousands of people every year get hurt, some of them severely, in accidents involving hired transportation. When this happens, holding the wrongdoer responsible is crucial if you want to get the compensation you deserve for the injuries they have put you through.
Hired Transportation Can Still Negligently Cause Accidents
Just like any other driver, the people who operate the numerous forms of public or hired transportation can make mistakes or drive negligently. Unfortunately, just like everyone else, this can result in an accident that hurts someone else. If you have the misfortune to be involved in such an accident, you could have a legal right to get compensation for what you have been put through.
This is because hired transportation providers generally owe their passengers a duty of care. This is a legal requirement that they operate or drive in a reasonably safe manner that minimizes the chance of an accident or injury. When a hired transportation operator does not uphold this duty of care, they are said to have “breached their duty” and can be held liable in court for any of your injuries that this causes.
Common Carriers and Liability
The duty of care that someone owes to others varies, depending on the circumstances and numerous factors. Usually, it is simply to act as a reasonably prudent person. Acting unreasonably and putting others in danger violates this duty of care and opens someone up to liability for any injuries that they cause through their unreasonable conduct.
Hired transportation, however, has to abide by a higher standard of care than most others. If a company or person is in the business of moving people or goods, they are known as “common carriers.” These include bus companies, airlines, taxis and public transportation. Common carriers generally owe their passengers a duty of care that requires them to operate in a safe manner that minimizes any unnecessary risk to others, including their passengers.
The increased care that common carriers owe you, however, only gets you so far. If a bus driver is negligent and causes the crash that hurt you, the higher standard of care that the driver owed to you makes it easier to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit. However, the bus driver is unlikely to be able to compensate you for anything but minor injuries that you may have suffered. If your injuries are more severe and required extensive medical attention, you are unlikely to get all of the compensation you need from the bus driver.
The legal concept of respondeat superior, however, allows you to bring the bus driver's employer, the bus company, into the lawsuit, as well. Under respondeat superior, the bus company would become liable for your injuries, if its driver caused them while on the job. The idea behind respondeat superior is that the bus company is benefitting financially from having the bus driver working for them, so it would be unfair if they were not also liable for what happened on the job.
If you get hurt by hired transportation, both of these legal doctrines help your case. The higher standard of care that common carriers owe you makes it easier for you to show that the hired transportation operator was in the wrong when you got hurt. The idea of respondeat superior, on the other hand, allows you to get the compensation you need from the operator's employer.
Quick Settlement Offers
A common aspect of a crash involving hired transportation is a quick settlement offer. Because hired transportation is often a part of a large common carrier company, accidents happen all the time for them. Instead of putting themselves through a prolonged legal fight, they have found that making a quick settlement offer is often more economical in the long run for them. If you have been hurt in a crash with hired transportation, you can expect a quick settlement offer.
While tempting, these offers might not be in your interest to accept. Large common carriers make them for a reason – their own bottom line. If they are saving money, then you are losing it. They know that you might not have a full understanding of the medical bills that you will face, and are counting on you to underestimate the pain, suffering, and debilitation that you will go through from the accident.
Before accepting any offer, but especially a settlement offer that comes so quickly after an accident, you should consult a personal injury attorney. They have a much better idea of whether the offer is worth exploring, or if you are likely to incur far more payments down the road.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Getting hurt in an accident with hired transportation adds another wrinkle to an already confusing and stressful process. After one of these accidents, it is not always clear what to do next.
This is where the personal injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. We can legally represent you both in and out of court to ensure that you get the compensation that you need and deserve. Contact us online or at (800) 529-6162.