We Represent the Rights of Individuals Injured in Serious Train Accidents
The Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority—MARTA—is a major provider of public transportation in the Atlanta area, operating both a passenger commuter rail system and a bus network. In March 2018, 10.3 million passengers took MARTA trips. While these are not unique passengers—many people took at least two trips per day, to and from work, and others took even more—there are nonetheless a significant number of trips. On the other hand, it was well short of expectations, missing MARTA’s forecast for the month by 1.1 million trips, a 10 percent shortfall. Based on MARTA forecasts for Fiscal 2018, ridership from July through March was 9 percent short of forecast. Even with the missed passenger targets, Atlanta area residents took 91 million trips on MARTA from July through March.
While the MARTA train system has an impressive safety record, it is important to remember that accidents can always happen. In addition, MARTA riders do not need to be injured in a serious accident like a derailment or collision in order to recover compensation. People who are injured in less catastrophic accidents, such as a slip and fall accident on the train or falling luggage can also often bring a claim against the agency. For this reason, if you have been injured in any type of accident while waiting for or riding on a MARTA train, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call Brauns Law today at (404) 418-8244 or contact us online.
MARTA Is Held to an Elevated Standard of Care
MARTA is what is known legally as a common carrier. That just means that it is a railroad, airline, or other business that provides public transportation for property and people. Common carriers are liable for injuries suffered by passengers as a result of its negligence. The carrier is not responsible for preventing all injuries, but it must use “extreme care and caution that very careful and thoughtful persons use under the same or similar circumstances.” Further, common carriers cannot limit their legal liability by providing passengers with warnings that the method of transportation offered is inherently hazardous. The duty of care remains in place until the passenger has completed his journey and left the premises.
Obviously, this presents MARTA with a high standard of care for MARTA to meet while transporting its passengers. MARTA is required to:
- Transport its passengers safely
- Take appropriate steps to maintain their safety during transport beyond the maintenance and operation of a safe rail system
- Give passengers a safe place to board and leave the rail car
- Hire qualified employees.
Failure to meet these standards can result in legal liability for MARTA when passengers are injured. Obviously, common carrier accidents can stem from any number of causes. These can include:
- Maintaining work schedules that result in overly fatigued or overworked employees.
- Drivers or maintenance employee without proper training.
- Improperly maintained equipment, including tracks and train cars.
- Improper supervision of employees.
- Inadequate employee discipline, such as failure to take disciplinary steps against a driver who operates a train recklessly.
If the rail equipment—both trains and tracks—are not regularly inspected and maintained, kept compliant with safety standards, and routinely inspected to ensure compliance, the common carrier can be liable for any resulting passenger injuries. That liability can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life that result from the accident.
Rail Accidents Are Not the Only Hazard MARTA Must Guard Against
MARTA obviously operates trains. By all accounts, that operation has a very good safety record over the years. However, MARTA’s duty of care does not end the instant a passenger sets foot off the train. MARTA also operates the stations where passengers board and disembark. These are part of MARTA’s common carrier system and MARTA also is obligated to exercise its duty of care in these facilities. For instance, MARTA has had a number of escalator accidents over the years that resulted in passenger injuries.
Escalators, obviously, are part of the MARTA system of trains and stations to which MARTA’s duty of care extends. Inadequate or deficient equipment was blamed for several of the accidents. MARTA frequently has come under fire for its escalator maintenance schedule and policies. Failures of escalator maintenance have resulted in damages awards against MARTA for escalator injuries that resulted from those failures of maintenance.
Can Violent Crime Trigger MARTA Liability as a Common Carrier?
While concerns about crime in the MARTA system are widespread—especially with respect to violent crime—MARTA, like any other jurisdiction, likely has no heightened duty to prevent crime in the rail system. MARTA operates a police force that patrols the system. It uses thousands of security cameras, and in general appears to suffer no greater rate of violent crime than other local municipal or county jurisdictions. MARTA seems to provide law enforcement and protection on a par with other public jurisdictions and, even if a heightened common carrier standard of care were to apply to MARTA’s crime prevention efforts, it is not at all clear that MARTA would be liable for most criminal acts committed within the system—if it is liable for any.
However, when it comes to MARTA’s operation and maintenance of its common carrier system—tracks, trains, stations—the heightened standard of care certainly applies. If you suffer injuries in an accident that could be the result of a breach of that standard of care—train accident, escalator failure, defective construction or maintenance of platforms, walkways or other station areas that result in an accident—you should seek legal assistance to determine your options.
If You Are in an Accident in the MARTA System, Consult a Georgia MARTA Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Attorney David Brauns is committed to representing the rights of people injured while using the MARTA system. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, please call (404) 418-8244 or through our online contact form.