The use of public transportation to commute or travel can be a convenient and inexpensive mode of transportation, especially in New York. However, as with any mode of travel, there is some risk of injury and passengers entrust their safety to the operator of the vehicle. When accidents involving mass transit carriers do occur, the associated injuries to passengers can be severe and result in significant financial burdens.
Recently, a mass transit accident occurred between two buses heading into Manhattan. One bus was operated by New Jersey Transit and the other was a private bus. Both buses were unable to move after the accident, so they required towing.
Nearly 20 commuters from both vehicles were injured and taken to area hospitals. Three of the injured passengers were taken away on backboards and the injuries to two of the passengers were in serious condition at the time of reports. The collision is currently being investigated and officials haven’t gathered enough information to determine the cause of the accident at this point.
Buses, trains, subways and other vehicles that transport passengers for a fee are collectively known as common carriers. Drivers of these vehicles owe a special responsibility to their passengers and must exercise the highest degree of care in their actions. This level of care means using extra caution and doing everything possible to keep passengers safe. This duty applies not only to the driver of the vehicle, but the driver’s employer as well under the theory of vicarious liability.
Vicarious liability holds an employer liable for accidents caused by its employees while using a company vehicle within the scope of their job duties and authority. In the case above, if either driver failed to exercise a high degree of caution, they, and their employer, may be liable for injuries sustained by the passengers.
When accidents involving common carriers occur, the companies or municipal agencies in charge of these carriers usually begin investigating the collision immediately. In these cases, it is important that someone acting on behalf of the victims conduct their own investigation to make sure the findings match up.