Recent MBTA Accidents in Boston Shed Light on Public Transit Liability

Citizens in the Boston area are no strangers to accidents involving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Accidents can happen on public transportation, like busses, trolleys, trains, or MBTA facilities and stations. In either circumstance, you deserve compensation for your painful injuries. Recently, there have been numerous MBTA accidents in and around the Boston area.

You can sue the MBTA for damages related to an accident caused by its employees, much like you could sue any other employer. Employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligence as long as the employees were acting within the scope of their job duties. However, the MBTA is a public entity, so a few different rules would apply to your case.

The MBTA is responsible for the safety of its patrons when they are on transportation or using MBTA facilities. When the MBTA fails to fulfill its duty, people get hurt. Our Boston bus accident lawyers have handled many cases related to MBTA negligence. We are ready to discuss your case in a free legal consultation at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan. Call us at (617) 925-6407.

Malfunctioning Escalator Accident at Back Bay Station

On September 26, 2021, at approximately 6:00 PM, an escalator at Back Bay Station in Boston malfunctioned and injured 9 people. According to reports, the escalator was moving upward from the station platform to the street level. The escalator then suddenly reversed direction and appeared to flatten out into a slide rather than a staircase. The reason for the malfunction remains unclear at this time.

According to Boston Emergency Medical Services, multiple ambulances were sent to the scene of the strange escalator accident and the 9 victims were transported to area hospitals. Injuries were reportedly mostly minor. The MBTA, which is responsible for maintaining the station, including the escalators, is investigating the incident.

Green Line MBTA Trolley Crash

Last July, a Green Line Trolley rear-ended another train, causing an accident. Reportedly, 27 people were injured in the accident. The driver of the trolley had been speeding at the time of the accidents. Reports indicate that the driver was going 30mph, nearly triple the speed limit of this particular track area.

It has come to light that the trolley driver has been suspended from his job as a driver for MBTA at least 6 times prior. The driver has been working for the MBTA for 7 years. The driver has a history of speeding and has been issued multiple warnings before. The driver was also terminated with pay in 2017 before being put back to work only a few months later. The driver had 3 more speeding violations by 2020.

Why the MBTA has continued to employ a driver who repeatedly demonstrates their inability to drive safely remains unclear. Many argue that the MBTA has a duty to fire incompetent or dangerous employees in the interest of its patrons’ safety.

Death from Rusty Staircase Accident at JFK MBTA Station

On Saturday, September 11, 2021, a Boston University professor fell to his death through a rusted-out staircase near the JFK MBTA Station. The 40-year-old victim fell about 20 feet to his death and was shortly after discovered by a passerby.

An investigation revealed that the stairs through which the victim fell had been closed for about 20 months for being unsafe. The bottom and top of the stairs had reportedly been blocked off, but the victim was still able to access them. Why the MBTA allowed an unsafe staircase to stand for so long is still unknown.

Who Is Liable for Accidents Involving Public Facilities and Transportation in Boston?

The accidents described above are only the tip of the iceberg. The MBTA operates and maintains services and facilities across Boston and many other parts of the state. When accidents happen on MBTA property, the transportation authority can be held liable.

Employers, like the MBTA, can be held liable for the negligence of their employees if that negligence occurred within the scope of the employee’s work. The MBTA can be held liable for the actions of reckless or negligent drivers. It can also be held liable for the inaction of employees who fail to make necessary repairs or adequately close off dangerous areas to the public.

In cases like the trolley driver discussed previously, the MBTA could be held liable on a theory of negligent hiring. The MBTA was well aware of the driver’s history of dangerous driving yet continued to employ him as a trolley driver. Our Boston personal injury attorneys can help you hold the MBTA liable for your accident and injuries.

Legal Options for Victims of MBTA Accidents in Boston

If you were a victim in an accident with the MBTA, you may be able to file a lawsuit and claim damages and compensation. However, the road to compensation comes with a few extra hurdles because the MBTA is a public entity. Our Boston MBTA accident lawyers have experience suing public entities and organizations, and we can advise you on your case.

First, you must file a letter of presentment with the necessary executive officer of the MBTA. This letter is like a notice to the MBTA that you will file a lawsuit if your damages are not covered. The MBTA could potentially choose to pursue your claim and resolve the issue out of court. If your letter is instead denied, you can file a lawsuit. The letter must be served within 2 years of your accident.

Second, your damages will be more limited in an accident case with the MBTA than in a case against a private entity. Under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 258, § 2, damages in a case for injury against a public entity or municipality are capped at $100,000. However, the law leaves room for additional damages in cases where injuries are severe.

Contact Our Boston MBTA Accident Lawyers

Public entities like the MBTA that serve thousands of citizens across Boston, should be held liable for their dangerous negligence. Our Cambridge personal injury lawyers have handled cases like this before and can help you. Contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan for a free legal consultation. Call us today at (617) 925-6407.