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Sovereign Immunity Act and SEPTA Accidents

Philadelphia Train Accident LawyerFor individuals injured in a SEPTA accident, capitation on damages can limit the recoveries of accident victims with extensive injuries. The caps were recently challenged in a case wherein a SEPTA accident resulted in a partial amputation of a victim’s foot. A SEPTA accident lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm can help you understand how these capitations may impact your case if you are injured in a SEPTA accident.

A Philadelphia judge denied a post-trial motion to challenge the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s statutory damages cap. SEPTA admitted negligence in October in the case against plaintiff Hayley Freilich and agreed to the $7 million specified verdict on the docket. However, SEPTA filed a motion based on the Sovereign Immunity Act to mold the verdict to $250,000.

The Sovereign Immunity Act is designed to hold the Commonwealth immune from lawsuits, except in certain exceptions. One of these exceptions is vehicle liability, in which a vehicle is controlled or possessed by the control of a Commonwealth party. In these situations, recovery is limited to $250,000 per plaintiff or $1 million in aggregate. Allowable damages include medical and dental expenses, loss of present or future earnings, pain and suffer, loss of consortium, and property losses.

A General Assembly Senate resolution recommended in June 2021 that the maximum recovery cap be increased to $1 million per event. The General Assembly anticipates hearing the results of a study by the budget and finance committee on this matter in June 2022. However, no updates to the cap have occurred to date.

SEPTA’s attorney argued that under current statue and case law, the capitation applies. Alternatively, the plaintiff’s attorneys challenged the constitutionality of the cap, arguing that it would provide little compensation for her extensive injuries considering attorney’s fees and high medical costs.

SEPTA’s Damages Cap Called “Profoundly Unfair”

Philadelphia County Common Pleas Judge James Crumlish III dismissed the plaintiff’s motion. Despite calling the cap “profoundly unfair if not unconscionable”, he found that court must uphold the restrictions on damages based on the Sovereign Immunity Act and adjust the verdict based on the defendant’s motion.

SEPTA reported 14,000 accidents between 2016 and 2019. While some of those accidents were minor, many resulted in serious injury to innocent passengers. SEPTA riders should understand the role that government immunity and limitations on damages may affect their ability to recover damages following a SEPTA accident.

Contact a SEPTA Accident Lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm Today!

Individuals who have been injured in a SETPA accident often need to use the courts to obtain a remedy for their losses. However, recovering damages against the Commonwealth and its entities can be challenging, especially considering the potential for immunity or recovery limitations. The Sovereign Immunity Act can limit a victim’s rights to receive compensation for their claims. A qualified SEPTA accident lawyer from the Wieand Law Firm can help a victim navigate the legal system and protect a plaintiff’s rights.

Call a SEPTA Accident Lawyer at our firm today to speak directly to an attorney for a free consultation. We will review your unique situation and discuss the legal options available to you. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so we never take a fee unless we obtain compensation for your injuries. Call 215-666-7777 or send us a message on the online form to speak with an attorney.


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