Posted October 2, 2016 | Septa
When a SEPTA bus hits a bicyclist in Center City, University City, South Philly, or any other neighborhood of Philadelphia, the driver may be liable for resulting injuries or fatalities depending on how and why the collision occurred. If a SEPTA bus hit one of your family members while they were riding their bike in Philadelphia, you should speak with an experienced SEPTA accident lawyer about filing a personal injury claim. The injured cyclist, or his or her surviving family members, may be entitled to compensation.
Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love, but bicyclists and SEPTA buses don’t always coexist peacefully. While SEPTA buses provide an invaluable mass transit service for thousands of Philadelphians every day, any Philly resident can tell you SEPTA drivers sometimes ignore the rules of the road.
On Philadelphia’s crowded, narrow streets, it’s easy for a careless, aggressive, fatigued, or intoxicated bus driver to strike a cyclist, whether they are riding in a bike lane or a traffic lane. Sadly, the enormous difference in size and weight means that bicycle-bus collisions often result in the wrongful death of the cyclist. Even when a cyclist escapes with their life, they are likely to sustain serious injuries, with some common examples including bone fractures, head or brain injuries, lacerations, skin abrasion injuries (“road rash”), nerve damage, and spinal cord injuries, which can cause permanent paralysis.
Accidents are especially likely to occur at certain locations within the city. For example, Philadelphia’s most dangerous intersections , as ranked by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, include 5th and Olney, Race and Broad, and 40th and Market.
A bicycle accident report released by the city of Philadelphia in 2015 named additional intersections that are hazardous for cyclists – some due to heavy bus traffic. For example, at the intersection where Main Street and Ridge Avenue meet near the Wissahickon train station, “Eight city bus routes stop at the transit center, generating high cross-town traffic and contributing to congestion.” A total of 10 cyclists (and two pedestrians) were hit at this intersection during the period from 2009 to 2013.
No matter where in the city a bicycle and a SEPTA bus collide, the potential for injury is great. However, the victim may be able to get compensation for their medical bills and other expenses if the SEPTA driver was negligent, or careless. The individual driver and/or SEPTA may share liability, depending on the circumstances of the crash.
SEPTA employees are held to an exceptionally rigorous legal standard with regard to liability for infliction of injuries, which works in the claimant or plaintiff’s favor when he or she is attempting to recover compensation. The reason SEPTA is held to higher legal standards than private citizens is that SEPTA is classified as a “common carrier” – in short, a transportation service. In Sykes v. SEPTA (1973), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1964 (Griffith v. United Airlines), in which the Supreme Court held that “Liability may be imposed … for injuries resulting from negligent conduct.” Our article on public transportation liability discusses common carrier injury liability in detail.
While common carriers are held to a higher standard of care than everyday citizens, SEPTA also benefits from certain legal protections as a public entity, a topic we discussed in our article on city liability for sidewalk falls. For example, SEPTA’s liability is limited to $500,000 per bus accident, so if more than one person was injured, there is a risk the $500,000 limit will be exhausted by the other victims before you make your claim. To avoid getting into this situation, it is crucial that you seek legal help as soon as possible after you or a loved one has been hit by a SEPTA bus while walking, jogging, or riding your bike.
Insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits against public entities like SEPTA are governed by a complex system of laws, precedents, and deadlines. In addition, SEPTA has a team of highly experienced attorneys who will use every tactic they can to try and protect SEPTA’s interests – at your expense.
It is absolutely critical that you are represented by a tough and aggressive personal injury lawyer when fighting for compensation after a SEPTA accident on your bike. Don’t wait to start exploring your legal options. To find out if you have an injury claim against SEPTA in a free legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206 right away.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*