Protesters tend to take to the streets to voice their opinions, which means that drivers are stuck suffering the consequences. From the endless traffic to having to maneuver around pedestrians in the road, accidents are likely to occur.
While most states have protections in place for protesters, is it fair to assume that a driver is legally liable for striking one who blocks a car or jumps in front of it?
As a protester, you may wonder what would happen if a SEPTA bus or other government vehicle struck you while protesting. After all, some states are deploying laws that strip protesters of their protections, which means that drivers who hit protesters may not be charged criminally or considered liable in civil court.
The Cyclist and SEPTA Incident
Back in May 2016, a cyclist blocked a SEPTA bus for allegedly riding too closely to him. He stopped his bicycle and stepped in front of the bus to stop it from moving; this held the bus there for an hour-long standoff. While the bus driver had not struck the cyclist blocking his way, what if the driver would have accidentally hit the man? Who is liable?
Injuries to Protesters are the Same as Pedestrians
Even if protesters are taking to the street to shout their opinions, they are still pedestrians. A SEPTA bus hitting a pedestrian could lead to catastrophic injuries and, at high speeds, most likely death. If, however, a SEPTA driver was attempting to escape a mob, the driver could claim self-defense, especially if the mob was violent.
Pennsylvania Protects Protesters
While some states are working on laws that will strip protesters of their rights when struck by vehicles, Pennsylvania does not have such a law. Instead, protesters are still treated like pedestrians.
If you were struck by a SEPTA bus or other government transportation unit while protesting, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, it comes down to the circumstances.
If you were to jump unexpectedly in front of a bus to stop it from moving as part of your protest, the courts might feel that you were liable for your injuries, since you voluntarily stepped in front of a moving vehicle. On the other hand, if you were already on the street and clearly visible, and the bus driver struck you anyway, you may have a viable claim.
Hit by SEPTA? Contact a SEPTA Attorney
Cases against government entities, including SEPTA, are highly complex. After your injury, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling SEPTA instances. If you were injured while protesting and a SEPTA bus or private vehicle struck you, you might still have options for compensation.