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Understanding Your Rights Following a CalTrain Accident

Many of us take public transportation for granted. We robotically embark each morning and hurriedly return home each evening, not realizing that entities like CalTrain pose significant safety risks for the unwary.  If you were recently injured, or a member of your family recently killed, following an accident on CalTrain, we encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney right away. There are certain special laws pertaining to common carriers, as well as laws imputing liability from a negligent train conductor to his or her employer.

What laws apply to a CalTrain accident?

Beginning in 1863, CalTrain has been offering commuter rail services to residents of the San Francisco Peninsula, including the South Bay, San Jose, and Gilroy. It offers near round-the-clock service and boasts an annual ridership exceeding 15 million passengers. Accordingly, it is not uncommon for passengers to experience injuries ranging from minor to fatal, resulting in CalTrain’s responsibility to compensate victims for many of these accidents.

California maintains a set of laws pertaining to mass transit operations like CalTrain, known as “common carrier” laws. These rules, which appear in both the state and federal statute books, impose a heightened duty of care by any entity engaged in the carriage of people from one place to another for a fee. Under the California Civil Code, a common carrier must exercise extremely vigilant care for passengers and their property and must use reasonable skill to cloak each passenger with the safest possible transportation experience.

As interpreted by the Superior Court in 1992, “[t]he elevated standard of care for common carriers is ‘based on a recognition that the privilege of serving the public as a common carrier necessarily entails great responsibility, requiring common carriers to exercise a high duty of care towards their customers.’”

How can I recover for my injuries?

The court will decide your case under the laws of negligence, applying the above-explained heightened safety requirement as a component of your case. If the court finds that CalTrain breached its duty of safety to you, causing your resulting injuries, you could recover the costs of your medical expenses, as well as lost time from work or general mental anguish.

If you are a surviving family member of an individual killed while riding CalTrain, you could recover under California’s laws of wrongful death. This body of law allows immediate family members (e.g., spouse, domestic partner, children, parents) the opportunity to commence a civil lawsuit against CalTrain on behalf of the decedent. Survivors may recover not only the final medical costs, but certain incalculable damages such as the loss of mentorship between child and parent.

Contact a reputable personal injury attorney today

Injuries on CalTrain are not uncommon. However, when it is you suffering the consequences of CalTrain’s failure to protect your safety, you deserve the utmost in compensation for your experience. For more information or to contact a personal injury attorney, call Nelson C. Barry today.


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