With nearly 350,000 people riding a Metro subway or light rail train every day in Los Angeles, accidents, while infrequent, do occur. These trains travel at high speeds, so if there is a crash, the force of impact can cause serious injuries to riders.
If negligence is behind the accident, whether by the train operator/engineer, improper maintenance, faulty equipment, or improper employee training, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LACMTA) may be liable for medical expenses, loss of income and other compensation for your injuries.
However, train crashes are not the only ways that you can get hurt. Trains can strike pedestrians, as occurred in East Hollywood — with fatal results — and in downtownLA in 2021. If negligence on the part of the MTA plays a role, compensation may also be awarded.
But first, the injured party must file a claim against the LACMTA. And because LACMTA is a government agency, it’s subject to theCalifornia Tort Claims Act, which protects the state government from liability in certain personal injury cases.
Therefore, receiving compensation for injuries is more difficult than in cases where a private transit company, like Uber, Lyft, or a city taxi service, is at fault. This is because the steps and restrictions in filing a claim against LACMTA or a lawsuit in court are stricter than for private companies.
Unlike the two years state law allows for filing personal injury claims against another driver or insurance company, you have six months to file a claim against a government agency like LACMTA (or the Southern California Regional Rail Authority). And, if you fail to file in that six-month window or with the right jurisdiction, it’s much harder, if not impossible, to pursue compensation for damages.
There are specific steps and rules to follow when filing a personal injury claim against the LACMTA:
- File a written claim directly with LACMTA within six months from the date of the injury-causing accident. The claim must include:
- Your contact information.
- The date and location of the accident.
- That LACMTA is the party that caused your injuries.
- A detailed description of the accident.
- Your injuries and other financial and emotional losses that resulted from the accident.
- LACMTA will accept or deny your claim. But because most claims are denied, it’s highly likely that you will need to take additional steps to receive fair compensation. However, if your claim is accepted, you must show evidence for the amount of compensation you seek, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering.
LACMTA will make you an offer, which you can accept or make a counter offer. If that is also rejected, then the next step is to file a lawsuit.
- If your claim is denied or you reject LACMTA’s offer, file a lawsuit within one year of your claim being denied.
- Apply the best legal strategies for suing a governmental body in California.
This is where having an expert personal injury attorney on your side can make a huge difference in court. When suing a governmental body, comparative negligence may come into play. Comparative negligence allows for your compensation to be reduced if any of your own actions contributed to the accident. This is calculated by percentages, so if the court rules you were 25% at fault, the amount of your claim is reduced by 25%.
Additionally, because there usually is more than one factor behind a MTA train accident, parties besides LACMTA may also be liable for your injuries. These could include:
- Another vehicle driver, if they were on or near the tracks and contributed to the accident.
- A private company or government body apart from LACMTA that owned the section of track the accident occurred on, if that section of track was not maintained in a safe manner.
- The manufacturers of a train, track or railway crossing barrier component that contributed to the crash because of defective parts.
You may claim both financial and non-financial damages in a LACMTA claim or lawsuit.
Financial damages include medical treatment, emergency transportation, and related expenses, in addition to lost wages, if you are unable to work because of your injuries.
Non-financial damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring or other physical disfigurement, a diminished quality of life or well-being, and losses in personal relationships.
Suing a government entity for personal injury damages can be complex. In addition, the LACMTA has excellent defense firms and deep resources to fight personal injury claims in court. LawPLA is here to guide you through every step of the process. For a free consultation, contact one of our Los Angeles offices or schedule a convenient time online. We are here for you.