Amtrak train Carolinian No. 80 was making its way from Charlotte to New York when it slammed into a tractor trailer at an intersection in Halifax County. The driver of the truck had been struggling to make a left turn when the train appeared and struck the rig. The force of the collision sent debris flying, and caused the locomotive and baggage cars of the train to derail.
While the driver of the trailer was not injured, 55 of the 212 aboard were rushed to the hospital. The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, the highway patrol and the state Department of Transportation are investigating the incident to determine the causes of the accident, whether it be Amtrak staff inattention, faulty railroad crossing design, or negligent driving on the part of the tractor trailer driver.
This Amtrak accident in our state is one of several recent incidents of train collisions and derailment that caused serious personal injury and death to passengers and crew. The string of train transportation accidents within the last few months gives rise to an interesting question: what happens when you suffer personal injury on public transportation?
According to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 30 million passengers take advantage of public transportation providers each day. Public transportation providers are businesses that are licensed to transport passengers for a fee, including, but not limited to:
- Trains and subways
- Public, school, and tour buses
- Ferries and water taxis
- Airport shuttles
- Taxis and limo taxis
- Planes and public aircrafts
As providers of a publically-used service, public transportation authorities have a responsibility to maintain safe operation of the vessels and safe conditions for passengers. Passengers who use public transportation systems place their security and well-being in the hands of transportation providers, and these authorities have an obligation to protect these passengers from harm.
In North Carolina, public transportation providers must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of their passengers, including:
Hiring qualified operators. Transportation providers have a responsibility to hire and train qualified personnel to operate vehicles. Inexperienced or inadequately trained operators are more likely to be involved in an accident that results in passenger injuries and fatalities.
Maintaining safe machinery and equipment. Public transportation authorities have a duty to ensure that vehicles are able to operate safety, and to properly maintain the condition of engines, motors, and other equipment. If there is a problem with the machinery, authorities must address the problem in a timely manner.
Providing safe conditions for passengers. This includes ensuring entryways, exits, walkways, and so on are well-lit and free of obstruction to prevent slip and falls and other accidents, and providing adequate security against assault and other dangers.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on a train, bus, or other form of public transportation, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim against the company that runs the transport line. By filing a successful claim, you may be able to secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and overall pain and suffering.
After being involved in a public transportation accident, contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your options, and stand up to major public transportation businesses and their aggressive lawyers in court. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can secure the compensation you deserve and need to move forward with your life.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.