In most cases, mass transit is a far safer way of traveling from place to place than going by car. Cities where commuters take most of their trips by train or bus report around 50% fewer traffic fatalities – on average – than cities where most commuters drive. Yet, riding mass transit is not without risk, and bus and train crashes tend to be serious. If you find yourself injured in one, you may not know who you can hold responsible.

When the transit agency or operator are at fault

After a mass transit accident, you may assume that the operating agency will shoulder fault. Yet, this may not be so, since state and city governments control many of these organizations. In most cases, government agencies have sovereign immunity against lawsuits. This status means they technically cannot commit a legal wrong. Yet, certain exceptions apply to this rule, which can include mass transit accidents. If an agency or operator holds clear responsibility, you will need to file a notice of claim to bring a lawsuit against them. Keep in mind, though, that you have only 90 days after your accident to do so in both New York and New Jersey.

When someone else is at fault

Many mass transit accidents do not stem from an operator’s actions or an agency’s mistakes. For instance, you may have been traveling on a bus that another vehicle collided with. Since New York and New Jersey both follow no-fault auto insurance laws, you will need to file a claim through your policy. Or, you may have been riding a train where defective equipment caused it to crash. In this case, you have the option of filing a product liability lawsuit against the part’s manufacturer. In New York, the statute of limitations for doing so is three years. In New Jersey, it is two years.

Mass transit accidents are less common that motor vehicle accidents. But their consequences can be as severe. By identifying the at-fault party or agency correctly, you can take steps toward achieving the recourse you deserve.