As per California’s common carrier law, the companies offering bus transportation services such as the Los Angeles MTA Bus Service are required to follow strict regulations for passenger safety. It is mandatory for the drivers to complete proper training in handling the vehicle to ensure safe and risk-free transportation. It is essential that the drivers hired by MTA have no history of reckless driving on the road.
While the buses are generally safe, accidents can happen and cause serious injuries. Some of these accidents are completely preventable, but the pressure on the bus drivers to timely complete their trips through heavily trafficked bus routes in Los Angeles can lead to accidents. In an event that you or your loved one suffer an injury due to an MTA bus accident, the bus accident attorneys at Salamati Law in Los Angeles have provided essential information regarding your rights when filing a claim.
What should you know before suing the City of Los Angeles?
The Los Angeles MTA is a public entity governed by the California Tort Claims Act and suing such a public entity is more complicated than suing a private entity.
This Act has specific rules that should be followed prior to filing your lawsuit. Failure to do so can result in your claim being denied or barred in most instances.
You should know the following information before filing your claim:
- You are required to file a claim within 6 months from the date of the accident.
- You should know the next steps in each situation such as if the claim is denied, or is rejected, or is accepted, or goes unanswered.
- If your claim is denied, you have 1 year to file a lawsuit of the denial.
What are the causes of bus accidents?
The common causes of bus accidents include:
- Error or negligence on the bus driver’s part including but not limited to breaking traffic rules, failure to follow traffic signals, speeding, fault while changing lanes, or intoxication.
- Mechanical failures or broken equipment within the bus.
- Reckless driving including abruptly stopping, or accelerating, or losing control of the bus, or speeding on turns, or swerving.
Who can claim to be a victim of an MTA bus accident?
You can claim to be a victim in any of the following cases:
- You are a passenger riding on a bus such as those who are standing, or walking, or seated without a seatbelt at the time of the accident
- You are a pedestrian who is struck by a moving bus
- You are a driver or a passenger of another vehicle involved in a collision with an MTA bus
How can you prove your case in the Court?
You need to prove the following points to claim compensation.
- The defendant owes a legal duty to the plaintiff: Bus drivers owe all the passengers the legal duty of care and safety while driving them from one place to another. At the same time, bus drivers also have a responsibility for safety towards other vehicle drivers on the road. Basically, bus drivers need to drive as safely as possible.
- The defendant breached the legal duty: The bus drivers are responsible for caring about the passengers and keeping everyone on the road safe. Violation of this duty is considered a breach. This breach can occur when the driver is carelessly or recklessly driving or indulging in any other unlawful activities that compromise the safety of the passengers and other vehicles on the road.
- The breach of duty has resulted in the accident: If the bus driver were to recklessly drive resulting in circumstances such as crashing, loss of control of the bus, collision with another object such as a bus stop, unity pole, signal or not following traffic rules then there are grounds to prove that the accident was caused by the driver’s negligence.
- Plaintiff suffered injuries from the accident: If the bus driver caused an accident that resulted in injuries to the passenger, pedestrian, or another driver, then the bus driver can be proved to be at fault.
Potential Issues you may face while suing the City of Los Angeles
California state civil law for entitles victims of accidents to complete financial restitution for all the injuries suffered. The amount of financial compensation is based on various important factors that can be unique to each case.
- Punitive Damage and Compensation: Punitive damages are created to penalize the defendant so that they will refrain from dangerous, careless or reckless actions in the future. However, such punitive damages are sometimes considered as being excessive or unnecessary by judges or juries, and you may not be able to claim it.
- Statute of Limitations: Accident claims made against non-government, private parties, or operators can be filed within 2 years from the date of the accident. However, claims made against public entities such as the MTA, any transportation services, and the government-run entities require to be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident. If you are unable to do so within the deadline it may result in the elimination of your right to recovery.
Los Angeles MTA bus service system is a complex organization consisting of a huge network of employees, detailed documentation such as employee code of conduct manuals and guides. They often utilize the best defense firms to build a strong case and can fight fiercely to maintain their image. You may face difficulties attempting to fight a lawsuit alone or with an unqualified lawyer against an entity who will take every possible measure to defend itself and reduce your financial compensation.
Hence, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is vital to navigate the complexities of the Tort Claims Act and ensure that your claim is properly prosecuted. There are several legal hurdles that must be overcome within short deadlines due to the statute of limitations. It is therefore imperative to consult with a lawyer immediately if someone is injured or killed due to an accident involving Los Angeles MTA bus services.