Who is at fault for a public transport accident?

Before the coronavirus lockdown, public transport was an unavoidable part of many of our daily lives. Commuting to work via tube, train or tram was an activity we loved to hate.

But when lockdown measures were imposed, those of us who could work from home stopped using public transport almost immediately.

Now, though, after the government started encouraging more of us to return to our usual workplaces, we are also heading back to public transport. As more people return to their pre-lockdown travel arrangements, we could expect to see more accidents involving public transport.

But who is at fault for these incidents?

Fault dependent on accident type

There are many ways in which a public transport accident might happen. And who is held responsible will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident.

For example, you might have been on a bus that started driving before you could sit down, causing you to lose your balance and fall. There are a number of injuries that could be caused by this action, including broken bones, whiplash, broken teeth and even head injuries. In this instance, the bus driver will typically be at fault. It was his or her negligence that led to the accident.

But what if you were seated on the bus and the driver had to swerve suddenly in order to avoid hitting another car, causing you to be thrown from your seat and injured? It may be less clear cut, but the fault still lies with the bus driver as they should have allowed more distance between the bus and the vehicle in front.

In both those examples, the bus company will be held responsible. This is who you would claim against if you decided to pursue legal action for your injury.

Who is to blame if the bus you’re travelling on is hit by another vehicle and you suffer an injury? In this case, the other driver is responsible for the accident. Their insurer will be the body you make a claim against.

It is also possible to suffer an accident on a train or tram. These forms of transport have often historically been exceptionally full, leading to passengers having to stand. If you have suffered an injury after a fall or if you were hit by an object while on a train or tram, it will likely be the fault of the train company – and that’s who you would make a claim against.

One area that holds the potential for uncertainty around liability is vehicle safety. If you were hurt as a result of a problem with a vehicle, who is responsible for that? In the majority of cases, it will be the transport company’s fault. This is because they are responsible for the safety of their fleet. Proper maintenance and repairs being carried out when necessary will usually prevent serious accidents. So if this has not been done, the transport company can be held liable for any accident.

However, if the vehicle is still relatively new and has had a mechanical problem that caused an accident, the manufacturer may be held responsible.

What to do

An accident suffered on public transport has the potential for serious injuries. So don’t feel like you should just accept what happened to you as bad luck. You have the right to be safe on public transport. If the companies providing that transport have fallen short in their duty of care to you, you can take legal action against them.

If you’ve been injured as a passenger on public transport, you could benefit from the services of expert road traffic accident solicitors, like those working with First4Lawyers.

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