Experienced Septa Injury & Bus Injury Attorney Serving all of NJ and PA
John Mattiacci has years of experience handling cases in many areas of law, but he has unique experience with personal injury cases involving bus and Septa accidents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This experience includes lawsuits brought against Septa (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) and Septa trolley accidents in and around Philadelphia.
There a number of different types of accidents that can involve buses. These include collisions with other vehicles, jerk and jolt accidents (in which passengers are thrown the ground because of an unexpected movement of the bus), and pedestrian accidents. The Mattiacci Law Firm has handled each type of bus accident case and is familiar with litigating cases against Septa and other commercial bus companies.
Septa and other transportation companies are often referred to as a common carriers.
What Is A Common Carrier?
A common carrier is a company that holds itself open to the public and charges to transport people or goods. Under the law, a common carrier is required to use a higher degree of care for the safety of its passengers than that ordinarily imposed on others. The carrier must exercise the highest standard of care that is reasonably practicable to protect its passengers.
Unfortunately, Septa and other transportation companies sometimes breach this duty of care. The duty to exercise this highest duty of care can be breached by colliding with another vehicle, striking a curb, unexpectedly moving the bus (commonly called a jerk and jolt), and not waiting until all passengers are safely off the bus before closing the doors and driving off.
As a Philadelphia bus accident lawyer, John Mattiacci handled one egregious case in which a Septa bus driver closed the doors to the bus while a passenger was still getting off of the rear stairs. The bus doors closed on the passenger and the bus started to move. The passenger was dragged by the Septa bus and suffered injuries. The bus did not stop until other pedestrians frantically flagged the bus driver down to make him stop the bus.
Jerk and Jolt Accidents
Serious injuries can occur to passengers on vehicles such as buses and trolleys when the vehicle comes to an abrupt or sudden stop. These types of accidents are frequently referred to as “jerk and jolt” cases and often do not involve a collision with another vehicle. In order to be compensated under Pennsylvania law, a person may need to go beyond proving that he or she fell because a moving bus or trolley car suddenly stopped. Additional evidence may be needed to show that the movement of the bus was so unusual and extraordinary that it was beyond the passenger’s reasonable anticipation.
Click here to read more about jerk and jolt accidents.
When I was involved in an automobile accident the only person I even considered calling was John Mattiacci. John is a tireless advocate for his clientele and I knew I was in good hands when he took my case. Thanks to John’s efforts he was able to resolve my case quickly and made sure I was satisfied. I can’t thank him enough for all he has done.
— Joe, February 24, 2016
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I do after a SEPTA accident?
Take the following steps, at a minimum:
- Complete a SEPTA Incident Form. This form should be given to you by the driver after the accident. If it isn’t, demand one from the driver.
- Seek medical care, even if you do not believe you were seriously injured.
- Refuse any request from SEPTA for a recorded statement.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer.
What is a SEPTA Incident Card?
A SEPTA Incident Card is a card that the driver is supposed to pass out to passengers after a SEPTA accident. You should fill out your name, address, birth date, description of the accident and a description of your injuries. You will out the form and the driver gets a carbon copy. A SEPTA Incident Card is critical evidence of your claim.
What happens to a personal injury claim if the victim dies in the accident?
The personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action on behalf of the victim’s close relatives and beneficiaries. Damages can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering by the deceased
- Lost earning power by the deceased
- Loss of services and care from the deceased
Should I sue or settle?
While our firm seeks to obtain a just settlement for our clients, we also prepare each case for trial and will file a lawsuit if the other party (SEPTA or a third party who caused the accident) refuses to offer a fair settlement. Once a lawsuit is filed, there is still a chance that the case may resolve through settlement prior to trial. The Courts generally will encourage the parties to a lawsuit to attend a settlement conference in an effort to get the case resolved. At other times, the parties agree to mediation, in which an impartial mediator will help facilitate a settlement between the parties. However, there are times when a client must be willing to go to trial to get the best possible result.
What special rules apply to a SEPTA lawsuit?
Filing a lawsuit against a government entity like SEPTA is different from filing an ordinary personal injury lawsuit. Special conditions apply because any damages will come from taxpayer-provided funds.
You must comply with the SEPTA notice requirement within six months of the accident. You must also retain your SEPTA Incident Card. Some grounds for a personal injury lawsuit are barred, and certain other limitations apply. Consult with your attorney for details.
What is the SEPTA notice requirement?
Before you can file a lawsuit against SEPTA , you must notify SEPTA in writing of:
- Your name and address
- Your intent to file a claim
- The date, time and location of the accident
- The name and contact details of your doctor.
The notice must be filed within six months of the accident.
Is there a damages cap applicable to lawsuits against SEPTA?
Yes. The maximum is $250,000 per injured victim and a grand total of $1,000,000 per accident. The $1,000,000 limit per accident could be problem if a single accident injures many people. In other words, if more than one person is injured in an accident caused by SEPTA, then the total amount of money available from SEPTA would be $1,000,000, which would then need to be divided to compensate each of the injured parties according the relative values of their claims.
Does SEPTA maintain insurance that might cover my injuries if the accident was caused by an uninsured third party?
Yes.If a SEPTA accident is caused by an uninsured motorist (not a SEPTA driver), SEPTA uninsured motorist insurance will pay up to $15,000 per person and up to $30,000 per accident. Keep in mind that $30,000 isn’t much to share if the accident involved many injured victims.
If the accident was caused by an uninsured drunk driver, can I sue the bar that sold him alcohol?
Yes, potentially. Under the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law, you can san sue the holder of the liquor license if the bar served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person whose intoxication later caused an accident.
About John Mattiaci
John Mattiacci has been practicing law for 15 years, and over the past five years he has helped recover nearly $50 million in personal injury damages for his clients. His other honors include:
- Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, together with fewer than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.
- Named a “Pennsylvania Rising Star” by Super Lawyers and Philadelphia Magazine (only about one in forty in-state lawyers qualify)
- Assigned a quality rating of 9.9/10 by the prestigious Avvo lawyer rating service.
The Clock is Ticking; Call on the Trusted Septa Accident Attorney Now
Hard deadlines apply to SEPTA accident claims, and if you miss one of them, your claim could become worthless.
If you or a family member have been injured in a bus accident, trolley accident, commercial vehicle, or any other Septa accident, contact the Septa & bus injury attorneys at Mattiacci Law Firm today for a free consultation.