Broken after accident bus on its side.

Can I Sue the City if I Was Hurt on the Bus?

Law Office of Steven R. Smith May 24, 2024

Facing an injury due to someone else's negligence is a traumatic experience filled with many legal challenges. When an individual is injured while riding a city bus, questions about rights, responsibilities, and recourses immediately come to mind. One of the most pressing inquiries is whether it's possible to sue the city for injuries sustained in such an incident.  

The answer is generally yes, but there are specific steps and considerations to adhere to. Fortunately, at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith, I can compassionately fight for your deserved compensation. I proudly serve clients in New York, Long Island, and throughout Hempstead, Westbury, Mineola, and New Hyde Park.  

Uncovering Liability in New York After a Bus Incident 

In New York, liability in bus accidents becomes more complex due to the state's specific laws and regulations governing public transportation. The concept of negligence still applies, but New York's comparative negligence law means that liability can be shared among multiple parties, including the injured party.

If a New York City bus driver, for example, was operating the bus recklessly, they can be held liable. However, if the injured party was also behaving negligently at the time of the accident, their compensation could be reduced in proportion to their fault. 

Moreover, filing a claim against a city-run transportation system in New York requires adhering to strict timelines and procedural rules, such as filing a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident. This is crucial for initiating legal proceedings against a city entity.

The maintenance of the bus and training of city employees also play significant roles in determining liability. If the city failed to maintain the bus in a safe working condition or neglected proper training for their employees, it could significantly impact the outcome of a liability claim. 

Understanding these nuances is vital for anyone involved in a bus accident in New York, as it affects how liability is determined and what damages may be recoverable. 

Steps to Take Following an Accident 

Immediately following an accident, it's crucial to seek medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor. Documenting your injuries formally is an essential aspect of a legal claim. After attending to your health, consider these steps: 

  • Report the incident to the city transportation authority as soon as possible. 

  • Gather evidence, which might include photographs of the scene, your injuries, and any damage. 

  • Note down witness information who can corroborate your account of the incident. 

  • Keep a record of all medical treatments and related expenses incurred due to the accident. 

Statutes of Limitations in New York 

In New York, statutes of limitations vary depending on the type of lawsuit. For example, personal injury claims must generally be filed within three years, contract disputes within six years, and defamation cases within one year.

However, when suing a government entity in New York, the timeframe is significantly shorter, often requiring notice of a claim within just 90 days. Acting quickly is crucial to ensure your case is not barred by these limitations. 

Special Considerations for Government Claims 

Suing a city or any government entity involves a complex legal process distinct from other types of lawsuits. To successfully navigate this, one must understand and adhere to specific legal requirements and procedures: 

Pre-Lawsuit Notice 

Many jurisdictions mandate the filing of a "notice of claim" before initiating a lawsuit against a government entity. This step is important as it formally informs the city of your intention to sue and provides them an opportunity to settle the matter before it escalates to court.

Content Requirements 

This notice must be comprehensive, detailing the incident and the nature of your claim. It typically includes: 

  • The date, location, and circumstances of the incident

  • A clear description of the damages or injuries sustained

  • An explanation of why the city or government entity is believed to be at fault 

Filing Deadline 

There is often a strict deadline for filing the notice of claim, which can vary by jurisdiction. Missing this deadline can result in forfeiting your right to sue.

Waiting Period 

After submitting the notice, there's usually a mandatory waiting period before you can file a lawsuit. This period allows the city to investigate your claim and consider whether to resolve it out of court. 

Understanding these special considerations and preparing accordingly can significantly impact the success of a lawsuit against a government entity. 

Why Legal Representation Is Key 

Given the complexities involved in suing a city, consulting with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling cases against government entities is wise. An attorney can offer several benefits, including: 

  • Expertise in government claims, ensuring adherence to all special requirements and maximizing your chances of a successful outcome. 

  • Negotiating with the city on your behalf, allowing you to focus on recovery. 

  • Handling all legal documentation and procedures, ensuring that your claim is filed correctly and on time. 

Debunking Common Misconceptions 

Victims of city bus accidents often hesitate to pursue legal action due to misconceptions about the process. Here are some clarifications: 

  • Fear of retaliation: Many worry about the consequences of suing the city. Legal protections exist to prevent such retaliation. 

  • Believing the process is too complex: The legal process can seem daunting, but a skilled attorney can navigate it for you. 

  • Thinking it's not worth the effort: Some people underestimate the potential compensation for damages and injuries, which can be substantial. 

Take Legal Action Today  

If you've been injured on a city bus, the path toward compensation involves several critical steps. Understanding your rights and the importance of quick legal action cannot be overstressed. With the right approach and professional guidance, holding the responsible parties accountable and obtaining the compensation you deserve is possible.  

At the Law Office of Steven R. Smith, I have the resources, knowledge, and experience to guide clients through suing the city for damages. Contact my firm for a free meeting to determine your options for seeking compensation.