An electrical fire on Tuesday night delayed TRAX service throughout the week. According to UTA officials, the service should be operational again by Friday morning. According to an article featured on KUTV’s website, a video shows the sparks and smoke around 10:10 p.m. UTA spokesman, Carl Arky, commented saying that the power wire came loose while the train was moving. News reports show that the cause has still not been determined, but that the train was up-to-date with its maintenance.
Arky commented, “Our maintenance crews are out, and they’re checking the lines…These vehicles go back into maintenance facilities every night, and we have crews that just drive onboard these things and they’re looking for problems, they’re looking for maintenance issues. They’re also doing regular maintenance as well to make sure that these vehicles are in a state of good repair.” The accident has caused delays of up to 30 minutes for many TRAX lines. Buses have also tried to help remedy the situation.
News outlets have not reported on the number injured in this accident. We hope no one was hurt. This accident presents a compelling case in liability. If you had been injured in a similar accident, who would you hold responsible? Does UTA have the same standards of responsibility as a driver on the road? If you were injured and the accident was not your fault, should you have to bear the brunt of the medical bills and other associated costs?
The answer to these questions largely depends on the circumstances. A personal injury attorney would have to assess the specifics of this case to know. This accident differs in critical respects from the more traditional car accidents. In those cases, after the crash, you are usually able to see the person who hit you or the negligent party. In this case, where it seemed to be a mechanical problem, who is the reckless party?
In this case, this could be seen as a breach of the “standard of care.” A standard of care is “the degree of care (watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence) that a reasonable person should exercise under the circumstances. If a person does not meet the standard of care, he or she may be liable to a third party for negligence” according to Cornell’s Legal Information Insitute. When you get on a UTA bus or light rail train, UTA is expected to afford you a standard of care. When a bus gets in an accident or a train has a malfunction that injures someone, they could be seen as negligent.
Let’s imagine the following hypothetical. You’re riding on a light rail system in Chicago, then suddenly one of the cars (not the one you are riding) has an electrical fire. The entire train slams to a halt. The abrupt stop of the train causes you to fall forward off of one of the platforms inside the train onto the floor. As you fall, your face hits one of the poles and is badly damaged. Others were injured as well. Who will pay for your medical bills?
Fortunately, in this hypothetical, a train or light rail accident would be handled like many other civil injury cases. A personal injury attorney would need to prove that the electrical fire was negligence on the part of the light rail manager. For example, if the company had not been carrying out regular maintenance, or if the company somehow knew the train was unsafe, then you would certainly have a case.
If you are involved in a public transit accident, contact The Advocates Law Firm. We can help you know if the transit company was negligent.