Public Transportation: Hurt as a Passenger?
When a person enters a subway train or orders a taxi they are putting their safety into the hands of drivers, staff, municipalities and operators. If a passenger is hurt on a commercial or public vehicle they could pursue a personal injury claim.
Passengers are vulnerable to a variety of situations that could result in injuries. They can be injured in a collision by another passenger, while waiting on a platform, during boarding or disembarkment. Passengers have no choice but to place a lot of trust into the vehicle’s operators, staff and the organizations and laws which govern these commercial or public modes of transportation.
Every year in Ontario, hundreds of millions of people utilize public transportation to get around the city and live their daily lives. In 2016, 538 million Toronto commuters put their health and safety in the hands of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the third largest public transportation system in North America. The number of passengers (either on the platform or inside a vehicle) create an enormous amount of opportunities for injuries, unintentional or otherwise.
Over a five-year span ending in 2013, the TTC was involved in a reported 18,000 accidents. Unlike operating your own vehicle, where you are in control, there is little a passenger can do to protect themselves from a serious or fatal collision.
In 2011, the Better Tomorrow for Ontario Act was passed, adversely impacting those injured as public transit passengers. The act states that accident benefits are not payable to a public transit vehicle occupant if a collision did not occur. This section of the act has been dubbed, “no crash, no cash” by members of the public and media.
50 TTC routes exceed crowding standards and create unsafe conditions for riders per a Toronto Star report from last year. These instances of overcrowding can lead to aggressive behaviour, a lack of seating for people who require it, and potentially more commuters being harmed in the event of an accident. The number of commuters needs to be corralled to ensure a proper safety standard. This can be accomplished with more vehicles on the road and better logistics. These infractions by the TTC has given rise to a watchdog mentality by municipalities and third-parties who compile their own data.
With respect to internal measures being undertaken by a public transit provider, GO Trains, a division of Metrolinx that provides public transportation for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, has deployed a transit safety dispatch and increased platform safety precautions in response to an accidental death on its platform in 2015. In 2014, the TTC implemented an action plan to better train their drivers and increase vehicle safety. This includes random speed checks and emphasizing safety over schedule keeping.
Taxis and Ride-shares
The taxi industry has undergone significant changes over the last few years. The rise of ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft, which allow drivers to use their own cars for transporting customers, requires increased vigilance to ensure passenger safety. The barriers to become a ride-share driver are higher for a vehicle than it is an operator. In Ontario, a clean driving record and background check is required but vehicles must endure a more arduous process that includes:
- Vehicle inspection by a licensed mechanic
- Good condition of body, interior and engine
- No salvaged or rebuilt vehicles
- Snow tires or all-season tires in place from December 1st-April 30th
Vehicles must also pass several cosmetic tests. The point is that passengers of any taxi are given very little assurance that the person behind the wheel is a skilled and attentive driver. If injured while riding a taxi of any kind, follow the procedures that you would normally for any motor vehicle accident:
- Remain at the scene of the accident
- Obtain the contact information of all witnesses
- Give an honest account of events to the police (if applicable)
- Seek medical help and keep thorough medical documentation
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to review your case
Despite the efforts of the Better Tomorrow for Ontario Act and more resources being invested in safety, injuries do happen. If a collision occurs, victims can seek damages against the public transit provider. If no collision occurs, victims still have some recourse by bringing legal action against the vehicle operator through tort law. It’s more challenging, but can be successful.
Personal Injury Lawyers
If you are injured as a commercial or public transit passenger, you could be entitled to compensation. Work with the experienced team at Mackesy Smye to partner with knowledgeable lawyers who can provide the advice and representation that produces results.
Contact the team today to book your free, no-obligation legal consultation and find out if you have a case.