You’re strolling down Chestnut Street on your lunch break when a honking SEPTA bus rushes past you, nearly knocking you over with side-view mirrors that overhang well onto the sidewalk. For many Philadelphians, this scenario is all too familiar – but unfortunately, close calls aren’t the worst that can happen when impatient, thoughtless bus drivers get behind the wheel of a powerful vehicle. As a glimpse at the news will tell you, serious SEPTA bus accidents occur on an alarmingly regular basis. In many cases, the victims are innocent pedestrians who were simply trying to cross the street.
If you or one of your family members was hit by a bus in Philadelphia, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, your medical bills, the earnings you lost, and other damages. SEPTA accident lawyer Brent Wieand can help. Brent has extensive experience handling claims against negligent SEPTA employees, and has obtained favorable results for numerous clients who sustained serious injuries in preventable pedestrian accidents.
To set up a free legal consultation with Brent, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (215) 666-7777 today. You will not be charged any fees unless Brent makes a recovery for you, and your information will be kept confidential. Brent handles cases throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area and surrounding counties.
When Are SEPTA Bus Drivers Liable for Injuring Pedestrians?
As a public transportation company that carries paying passengers, SEPTA is something called a “common carrier.” This classification is important for injury victims, because it means that SEPTA and its employees are held to an elevated “standard of care,” which is the duty to keep passengers safe and free from preventable harm. In other words, SEPTA bus drivers are expected to meet higher, more rigorous safety standards than the drivers of non-commercial passenger vehicles, which often works in the injury victim’s favor when attempting to establish liability.
In order for liability to exist, the plaintiff must be able to prove that a few facts were true of the accident. These facts are that:
- The bus driver failed to meet the standard of care by violating or failing to perform their professional duties.
- The bus driver’s actions – or in some cases, failure to act – resulted in the bus striking a pedestrian.
- The accident resulted in harm to the victim.
While bus driver negligence is more common, there are also instances where vehicle defects are to blame for crashes. Just as drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely, SEPTA is responsible for performing regular inspections and maintenance of its fleet.
Driver Negligence: Common Causes of Preventable Accidents
Bus accidents do not simply happen for no reason. There is always an event – or more often, a sequence of events – responsible for setting the accident in motion. In many cases, this event is avoidable and stems directly from the bus driver’s decisions. Some common examples of ways bus drivers violate traffic laws and endanger pedestrians include:
- Driving while distracted, such as texting while driving.
- Driving while intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, including legal prescription medications that are known to cause drowsiness.
- Excessive speeding.
- Failing to obey traffic signs.
- Failing to observe the right-of-way. While pedestrians are expected to obey traffic signals, vehicles in Philadelphia are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3542(a).
- Failing to signal when making a turn.
- Making improper turns at an intersection.
- Speeding up to squeeze through a red light, instead of coming to a stop and waiting for the light to turn green.
No matter how an accident occurs, the resulting injuries to the pedestrian are often severe. Because buses are so massive and heavy, even a low-speed bump can send a pedestrian flying across the road, causing skin abrasion injuries (“road rash”) which are painful to treat and sometimes require skin grafting surgery. Other severe injuries typically seen in bus accident cases include:
- Back Injuries
- Bone Fractures/Broken Bones
- Facial Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Permanent Scarring and Disfigurement
- Shoulder Injuries
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Tooth/Dental Injuries
- Torn Ligaments
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
While certain streets and intersections are more dangerous than others, injury or fatal accidents can occur anywhere, along any route. A few examples of SEPTA bus routes in Philadelphia include:
- Route 5 – Front-Market to Frankford Transportation Center
- Route 17 – Front-Market to 20th-Johnston and Broad-Pattison
- Route 18 – Fox Chase to Cedarbrook Plaza
- Route 23 – Center City to Chestnut Hill
- Route 26 – Frankford Transportation Center to Chelten Avenue Station
- Route 33 – Penn’s Landing to 23rd-Venango
- Route 47 – Whitman Plaza to 5th-Godfrey
- Route 52 – 49th-Woodland to 54th-City or 50th-Parkside
- Route 60 – 35th-Allegheny to Richmond-Westmoreland
- Route 61 – 9th-Market to Manayunk
- Route 123 – King of Prussia to 69th Street Transportation Center
- LUCY (Loop through University City) in West Philadelphia
- Night Owl Routes
If you, your spouse, or one of your relatives was hit by a SEPTA bus while running, jogging, or walking, you could be entitled to compensation for the expenses and losses resulting from the accident. Call the Wieand Law Firm at (215) 666-7777 today to set up a free and confidential legal consultation with Brent.
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.***