Proven Philadelphia SEPTA Accident Lawyer
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth-largest public transit system in the United States, carrying millions of passengers every year. Although your mathematical risk of being injured in a SEPTA accident is lower than what you would face if you drove your own vehicle the same distance, that comforting statistic is going to mean little if you are one of the ones injured.
As a government entity, SEPTA is protected by the Pennsylvania Sovereign Immunity Act – basically, it can only be sued to the extent the Act allows, resulting in certain legal quirks that you need to know about. For example, within 6 months of the accident, you must let SEPTA know that a claim is being made. Additionally, filing deadlines are shorter, and strict limitations on damages apply. It is in your best interest to have a knowledgeable and aggressive Philadelphia SEPTA Accident Lawyer from the Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Penneys, P.C., by your side. I have extensive experience in handling SEPTA accidents.
We help clients with the following types of SEPTA cases:
- SEPTA bus accidents
- SEPTA trolley accidents
- SEPTA train accidents and regional rail accidents
- SEPTA subway accidents
- SEPTA pedestrian accidents
- SEPTA slip and fall accidents
- SEPTA premises liability accidents
While some accidents are unavoidable, others could have been prevented. With multiple regulations and safety requirements in place, how do so many SEPTA accidents happen? The truth is, while public transportation accidents in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania occur for a variety of reasons, many are due to negligence.
Here are the seven most common causes of SEPTA accidents:
- Operator or driver error
- Improper maintenance of vehicles
- Improper maintenance of property
- Lack of driver training or testing
- Negligent security
- Failure to fix design flaws
- Safety violations and regulation breaches
Time Is of the Essence. Act Decisively and Quickly to Preserve Your Claim.
Your choice of Philadelphia bus accident attorney is likely to be the most important decision you make in your case. Remembering this principle is never more important than when you are attempting to squeeze compensation out of a stingy, taxpayer-funded government bureau. With 24 years of personal injury experience under my belt, I know how SEPTA attorneys and adjusters think, and I know how to handle their evasive stonewalling. Of course, depending on the facts of your particular case, SEPTA might not be the only party you can pursue a claim against – a third-party motorist, a product manufacturer, or even a pedestrian might share the blame or hold complete liability. In these instances, my experience can help, too.
The second most important factor in winning your case is the speed with which you take action. When you file against the government, filing deadlines are considerably shorter. If you were in a multi-victim accident, it becomes important to know that compensation limits apply. If you file your claim too late, you could end up with little or nothing.
Why You Need a SEPTA Accident Attorney
A SEPTA accident has a lot in common with other types of motor vehicle and transportation accidents: the terrifying moment you realize you are hurt , the painful recovery, the flood of medical bills arriving in the mail, and the long, hard battle to return your life to normal. However, a SEPTA accident is also much different from other types of transit accidents when it comes to filing an injury claim and securing compensation.
How SEPTA Injury Cases Are Different
If you are involved in a drunk driving accident, you hire a drunk driving accident attorney. If you are in a tractor-trailer accident, you hire a tractor-trailer accident attorney. In the same way, if you are in a SEPTA accident, it is worthwhile to hire a SEPTA accident attorney.
Here are just three ways that SEPTA accidents are different from other transportation and motor vehicle accidents:
- You have less time to file. Because of the Sovereign Immunity Act, injury victims and their families only have six months to file a notice with SEPTA.
- You may face compensation limits. Also because of the Sovereign Immunity Act, you may only be able to secure a maximum of $250,000 for your injuries – no matter how severely you are hurt. If more than one person is injured in the accident, SEPTA may be held responsible for no more than $1 million in damages for all injured parties. A SEPTA accident attorney will be able to tell you if your injury will be subject to compensation limits and sovereign immunity laws.
- You will have to fight against a large organization. Instead of only dealing with the insurance company of another driver, you will be fighting against a government organization – not to mention a government organization that confronts accident claims thousands of times each year. Having an experienced attorney on your side with a similar amount of experience and knowledge is vital.
Because of these large, sometimes complicated differences, it is important to hire a Pennsylvania injury attorney who has experience with SEPTA cases and a track record of success. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Penneys, we have both. SEPTA accident claims don’t enforce themselves, of course. The Pennsylvania civil compensation system requires the application of a considerable amount of energy and expertise to turn an abstract personal injury claim into the tangible reality of money in the bank. After two decades handling SEPTA accident claims, however, putting money into the bank accounts of personal injury victims is what I do best as an experienced accident attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What information should I gather immediately after a SEPTA traffic accident?
If you are not too seriously injured, try to obtain:
- The SEPTA vehicle number
- A SEPTA Incident Card
- The name of the driver
- The approximate time of the accident
- Contact details for witnesses and other victims
- Weather conditions
- Photographs of the scene of the accident
It is VERY Important to fill out a SEPTA Incident Card! If the driver does not offer one, please ask! If you don’t do this, it’s OK. It just makes it easier to confirm you were on the SEPTA vehicle.
Do any special considerations apply when I file a claim against a division of the state government?
Whether you file a claim against SEPTA or against another government bureau (for a school bus accident, for example), special conditions apply. In a negligence claim against SEPTA, for example, you must file a claim notice with SEPTA within six months of the accident. You must keep your SEPTA Incident Card. Other restrictions apply as well, so it is best to get the help of an experienced Philadelphia SEPTA Accident Lawyer.
Are there any limitations on how much I can win for a SEPTA accident?
Yes. The maximum compensation is $250,000 per person and $1,000,000 aggregate per accident, no matter how many victims there are. The aggregate limit could be problematic if your damages are high and there were dozens of people injured in the accident.
Can I obtain punitive damages?
It is possible, although most cases do not qualify for punitive damages. To qualify, you must:
- qualify for compensatory damages by proving that the defendant is liable for your injuries; and
- prove that the at-fault party (usually the bus driver) acted in a malicious or grossly negligent manner (“ordinary negligence” is not enough).
Will my personal injury verdict or settlement be taxed by the IRS?
Compensation is tax-free. Personal injury damages are not taxable. Nevertheless, punitive damages are taxable, and so is the interest on any judgment. Consequently, if you receive a verdict or settlement, it is best to clearly specify in writing how much of the total amount represents personal injury compensation.
Should I settle my claim or file a lawsuit?
The best strategy is usually to seek settlement first, but file a lawsuit if SEPTA is uncooperative or makes a low-ball offer. You can then return to the settlement table and seek an out-of-court resolution while you wait for trial. Most SEPTA claims are resolved before trial.
Can I sue SEPTA if they refuse to settle with me?
SEPTA, like other government entities, enjoys a limited immunity from lawsuits (since any award would ultimately be paid by taxpayers). However, it is still possible to sue SEPTA for a tort claim such as a vehicle accident. Certain special conditions apply to lawsuits against the government.
What happens if the accident was caused by an uninsured third party?
If a SEPTA accident is caused by an uninsured third party, SEPTA uninsured motorist insurance will pay up to $15,000 per victim and an aggregate of $30,000 per accident – no matter how many victims there are. $30,000 is very little if it has to be divided among multiple accident victims.This means you must act quickly if there are more than two victims, because not everyone can be fully compensated.
Time Is Running Out
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq., we have seen a wide range of public transportation accidents and we understand how and why they take place repeatedly. It is our hope that holding SEPTA responsible for the accidents that they are at fault for will not only help the families of injury victims, but also help prevent future accidents from taking place.The first step in obtaining compensation for a SEPTA accident is choosing the right personal injury attorney to represent you. Because tight deadlines apply to SEPTA claims, especially in multi-victim accidents, it is important that you get started right away. Your choice of lawyer might turn out to be the most important decision you make this year.
I devote 100 percent of my practice to helping personal injury victims, just as I have done for the last two decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a SEPTA accident, call me, an experienced Philadelphia SEPTA Accident Attorney, at 1-800-465-8795 (office), 1-215-771-0430 (cell), or fill out my online contact form so that we can schedule a free initial evaluation of your case. I represent clients in the areas of Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.