After being injured in a SEPTA accident, you will file a claim with the proper authorities. But, that is when the waiting game begins. You may find yourself waiting several days or even weeks for a response. Then, you may be disheartened by the fact that instead of offering a settlement, SEPTA refuses your claim or starts making the process overly complicated.
Can They Refuse to Settle?
Unfortunately, yes. SEPTA does not have to offer you a settlement just because you have filed a claim. Just like with any other personal injury case, the defendant is under no obligation to offer a settlement. Instead, you will need to file a suit with an attorney to open negotiations (and hopefully, reach a settlement).
Also, your attorney will need to assess the reasons why SEPTA is not settling. There are times where SEPTA may refuse to pay because they are not responsible for an injury. This is why is important that you hire an attorney. An attorney can assess your case and correctly determine liability. For example, if you were on a SEPTA bus and, while getting on the bus, you slipped and fell on a damp floor. SEPTA is not responsible. So, in this instance, SEPTA would refuse to settle because you do not have a valid claim. If you were not the only passenger injured, it may become a different story.
Filing Your Complaint via the Proper Channels
SEPTA can also refuse to settle if you have not followed the proper procedure for filing your injury complaint. SEPTA is a public entity; therefore, filing an injury claim against them is much different than a private party or business. In Pennsylvania, you have two years to file a traditional injury claim. But, public entities (including SEPTA), fall under 42 Pa. Cons. Statute Section 5522. This requires that you notify SEPTA within six months of your injury about your intent to file a suit. That means that you no longer have the two-year waiting period to file.
You can recover a maximum of $250,000 for any one claim and up to $1 million for a single SEPTA accident where multiple people are injured. While your claim may or may not accumulate to those amounts, you must follow the proper steps to file your claim (and open the door to settlement talks). These steps include:
- Hire an experienced attorney. Filing a claim against SEPTA requires an attorney who understands the process. An attorney with a thorough understanding of accident claims against the government can help pave the way for a settlement.
- Begin receiving treatment. If you are already under a physician’s care for your injuries, continue with those treatments. Do not miss any treatment or follow-up appointment. Doing so could hurt your claim. If you do not agree with your physician’s recommendations, seek an official second opinion. Also, make sure that the healthcare professional who is treating you knows that you are being treated for an accident – and ensure that it is noted in your chart.
- Gather information from witnesses. You do not need to interview witnesses formally, but you do need to get contact information so that your attorney can contact them later.
It is important to realize that all SEPTA drivers are required by law to operate the vehicle with the safety of passengers and other vehicles in mind. If you have are injured, filing your complaint properly will increase the likelihood that SEPTA will settle, but also will ensure that your case is not dismissed.
Contact a SEPTA Attorney Today
If you have been injured in a SEPTA accident, do not wait for SEPTA to make an offer. Instead, contact an attorney who has experience in these types of claims. Schedule your consultation now with attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. by calling him at 800-465-8795 or on his cell at 215-771-0430. His office line is 215-987-3550. You can also request a meeting online.