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Public Transportation Accidents

Without public transportation, Ontario’s bustling towns and cities would come to a standstill. City buses, streetcars, light rail, GO Trains and subways move significant numbers of people every hour of the day quickly and efficiently. This reduces the number of cars on the road, which helps reduce traffic congestion.

However, when there are accidents on public transportation, many people can get hurt at once. If these large vehicles hit pedestrians, cyclists or other cars or trucks on the road, it can often be very serious or even fatal.

If you or a loved one are injured in a public transportation accident in Ontario, you may be able to receive accident benefits and compensation for your losses. However, there are some important things to consider.

How do public transportation accidents happen?

Ontario law defines public transit vehicles as having two characteristics:

  1. They can be any vehicle providing transportation to members of the public on behalf of a municipality or local board.
  2. There must be a charge for the transportation.

Emergency vehicles such as ambulances, school buses, or dedicated transportation for persons with disabilities are excluded from this category of vehicles.

Types of accidents causing injuries.

There are many ways public transit vehicles are involved in accidents which injure either their own bus drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and/or people in other vehicles on the road.

Some common accidents include:

  • A single public transit vehicle accident:
    • A collision with an object.
    • Mechanical failure causing injuries. 
    • Sudden starts, stops, turns, derailments or rollovers causing passengers to become injured.
    • Slips and falls while entering, riding or exiting the vehicle.
    • Hazards on public transit platforms.
  • A collision involving non-motor vehicles:
    • Striking a pedestrian or cyclist.
    • A collision involving another public transit vehicle.
  • A multi-vehicle accident (MVA), where a public transit vehicle collides with one or more:
    • Cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, or other motorized vehicles. Pedestrians and/or cyclists may also be involved in such accidents.

While any of these accidents can cause serious injuries and losses, there are some distinctions in the law that affect what type of compensation may be available:

  • People who are injured in the first three categories of accidents referred to above are only able to file tort claims for damages.
  • People injured in the latter category may also be eligible to receive compensation under Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).

How does the law differ and what will it mean to you?

Ontario's no-fault statutory accident benefits system, also known as "SABS", allows people who are involved in an accident with a certain type of motor vehicle to apply for immediate medical and attendant care benefits as well as additional compensation, including income replacement. A brief breakdown of differing SABS benefits is as follows:

Even if the injured party does not have their own vehicle insurance or was responsible for the accident, they are still able to apply for SABS.

If the injured person is not responsible or only partially responsible for the accident, they may be able to file a tort claim for damages. This includes money that was lost (called "pecuniary damages") and pain and suffering (called "non-pecuniary damages").

If there is no other vehicle involved in the public transportation accident and the injured person does not have SABS benefits, Section 268(1.1) of the Insurance Act prevents them from getting these benefits.

It is very unfortunate that victims of these types of public transportation accidents do not have access to timely benefits. Section 267.5(6.1) of the Insurance Act does help these victims advance tort claims against the municipalities, local boards and public transit drivers.

In most tort claims against the at-fault owner or driver of a motor vehicle, in order to receive money for "pain and suffering" damages, you must have an injury that meets a certain threshold. This means that you must have a permanent, long term, or serious impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function or disfigurement.

Even if the injury threshold is met, the liable party may not have to pay as much compensation as you think. The statutory deductible can reduce how much they have to pay. This doesn't apply in certain types of accidents, like single vehicle accidents involving public transit or accidents involving public transit infrastructure.

If you or a loved one is involved in and seriously injured in a public transportation accident, these finer points of the law may not be on your mind.

A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury legal team can ensure you understand your rights and how your ability to make and advance a claim can affect your journey towards recovery. Our public transportation accident lawyers in Ontario are here to do just that. Contact a Gluckstein Lawyer as soon as possible for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your options.

Common causes of public transportation accidents.

Although many types of hazards and negligent actions can cause public transportation accident injuries, we often see injuries relating to:

  • Bus accidents.
  • Collisions with motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians or stationary hazards.
  • Dangerous or distracted driving.
  • Potholes.
  • Poor weather conditions.
  • Improperly maintained vehicles and mechanical errors.
  • Sudden starts and stops.
  • Icy or wet flooring, steps or platforms.
  • Passenger assaults.
  • Streetcar and Light Rail Accidents:
  • Collisions with motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians or stationary hazards.
  • Operator fatigue.
  • Derailments.
  • Poor maintenance.
  • Weather-related accidents.
  • Sudden starts and stops.
  • Icy or wet flooring, steps or platforms.
  • Passenger assaults.
  • Subway Accidents:
  • Derailment.
  • Sudden stops.
  • Operator error.
  • Slippery platforms.
  • Poor maintenance and mechanical failure.
  • Falls on escalators and stairs.
  • Passenger assaults.

Common public transportation accident injuries.

Public transportation accidents can lead to many different types of injuries. Some accident victims may escape with minor injuries, while others sustain life-changing injuries that cause significant impairment and long term disability. Frequent types of public transit injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage.
  • Fractures causing broken bones.
  • Dislocated limbs, slipped discs, torn ligaments, muscle strains or sprains, whiplash associated disorders.
  • Cuts, bruising or burns.

What can you do if injured?

After a serious injury on public transportation, you may be in shock and not able to think clearly. If you can, you should tell other people about your injury.

Call first responders for a medical evaluation, or go to a hospital or doctor's office as soon as possible.

The severity of some injuries don’t become apparent for hours or days after an accident. An initial examination and close monitoring of symptoms in the period following the accident is essential.

If possible, collect the information of other people involved in the accident or who witnessed the accident. This information could include:

  • Any identifying numbers of transit vehicles or operators.
  • The names and insurance information of any motor vehicle drivers involved.  
  • Licence plate numbers.

Some public transit vehicles or platforms have recording devices that may have captured the accident and/or injury as it happened. However, it is always a good idea to take photos or video of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries if you can.

Be mindful of what you say to people around you - particularly anyone who may have been responsible for the accident. Never admit fault. You may not want to speak to anyone about the accident and your injuries except for medical responders and the police. Contact a public transportation accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the incident and learn about your rights.

How can Gluckstein Lawyers help?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a public transportation accident, Gluckstein Lawyers can help you get the benefits and compensation you deserve for your losses. 

The location and circumstances of the accident can make a difference in how your case is pursued - for example, if the accident occurred on municipally-managed property. In such cases, there may be a limited time to give notice of the claim. 

When you contact the Gluckstein team, we will listen to your story. We want to hear what happened and how it has affected you. As we explain your options and rights, we will help you in any way we can.

If we believe our team can help you get money for your injuries, we will agree to be your legal representative. We only get paid if we are successful in getting you a settlement or court award.

Gluckstein Lawyers is a highly respected firm that is known for our dedication to providing full circle care to our clients. We treat our clients like family and cherish our client relationships.

Your journey to recovery doesn’t simply end when legal proceedings do. You deserve a trusted voice and law firm to be your advocate and supporter during these trying times.

Our public transportation accident lawyers in Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara, and Barrie serve clients across Ontario and are here to work with you, so make the call today for a free consultation.

Ontario Public Transportation Accident Lawyers.



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