A few weeks ago, the Kansas City streetcar hit a Mercedes parked on the street. This was the first incident since the streetcar began testing in November. The streetcar runs from Union Station to River Market and is said to begin carrying passengers in early May of 2016. Officials have been actively warning drivers of the dangers of parking outside of the designated white line. Due to the streetcar’s width, drivers must park within 12 inches of the curb to avoid its path. Parking outside the white line puts your property at risk. What happens if your parked inside the line and the streetcar hits you? Better yet, what happens in any situation in which you and a public transportation vehicle collide? Is the public transportation provider liable?
Duty of Care
Most personal injury cases are based on negligence rules. The injured person must prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win the case. To be “negligent” is to act (or fail to act) in a way that violates a duty you owe to another individual. In the case of car accidents, the duty is the one that all drivers owe to other drivers on the road. If you get behind the wheel of a car, you owe a legal duty to everyone else on the road to operate your vehicle with a reasonable standard of care.
Common Carrier Law
When an accident involves a public transportation vehicle, negligence rules still apply. However, the streetcar, like other public transportation vehicles in many states, is subject to what is called a “common carrier” law. A common carrier is any public transportation provider. Common carriers owe their passengers a higher degree of care than the average person does. Common carriers are said to owe passengers “the highest degree of care” in regards to transportation. The injured party must still prove the common carrier operator was negligent but the threshold is easier due to this heightened degree of requisite care.
Filing a Claim Against a Common Carrier
Another important difference in collisions involving common carriers is the claims process. Unlike other car accident cases, specific procedures and laws apply when being a tort claim against a state or municipal agency. If you have been injured or if your vehicle suffered damage in a collision with a public transportation vehicle, contact an experienced car accident attorney today to discuss your options for seeking damages from the common carrier. Contact a Kansas City, Missouri, car accident attorney at the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm today for a free consultation.