Trolleys are a great way to get around San Diego. When you’re traveling by trolley, you’re less likely to be injured than if you were traveling by car. Unfortunately, trolleys can pose a threat to those who aren’t on board. Trolley accidents don’t happen every day. When they do, they tend to be particularly tragic.
Last month, a San Diego pedestrian was struck and killed by a trolley. The fatal accident happened around 10 PM just steps away from the Encanto Trolley Station. Passengers aboard the trolley may have also been injured in the collision. An investigation into the trolley accident is ongoing.
A Trolley is a Common Carrier
A trolley is an electric-powered streetcar, also known as a light rail. In San Diego, the light rail system is operated by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. Nearly 120,000 people ride the San Diego Trolley every day. Choosing to travel by trolley can reduce the risk of an accident.
Why? Trolleys are classified as common carriers in the state of California. A common carrier is a business that transports people from one place to another in exchange for a fee. Since a trolley’s exclusive purpose is to take you to your intended destination, it falls into this category.
Common carriers are subject to special legal obligations. Specifically, common carriers owe a heightened duty of care to passengers. A common carrier must “use the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person.” The business and its drivers must “do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances” to keep you safe.
In other words, common carriers have to demonstrate extreme care and caution. Your safety can’t be guaranteed, but you can rest comfortably knowing that the trolley has to do everything it can to keep you safe.
A common carrier can breach its duty of care if it fails to:
- Hire skilled drivers or operators
- Provide everything that is necessary for safe transportation
- Construct, service, inspect, or maintain vehicles and equipment safely, or
- Fix known defects in its vehicles or equipment.
When a trolley breaches its duty of care, you may have a legitimate legal claim.
What Happens If I Contribute To My Trolley Accident Injury?
Accidents aren’t always cut and dry. In many cases, multiple factors can contribute to a serious crash.
What happens if more than one person is to blame for a trolley accident?
In California, anyone who contributes to an accident can be responsible for damages. This is known as a comparative negligence. Each person is liable to the degree they caused an accident.
Example: A car makes a sudden turn in front of a trolley. The impact of the crash causes the car to ricochet into Sally, a nearby pedestrian. Sally suffers significant injuries in the accident. An investigation finds that the driver of the vehicle the trolley operator were both distracted at the time of the accident. Both were negligent and contributed equally to Sally’s injuries. Sally will be able to recover compensation from both negligent parties.
What if you contribute to your own trolley accident injuries?
You always have an obligation to use cause and keep yourself safe, regardless of anyone else’s duty to you. This is true if you’re a pedestrian or a passenger on a trolley. There may be times when you contribute to an accident or fail to mitigate (or minimize) your injuries. In these situations, your ability to recover compensation can be limited. Specifically, damages will be reduced by the degree to which you are responsible for your own injuries.
Example: Sally is struck by a trolley while crossing the street. Sally had her headphones on and failed to see the trolley approaching. Sue, the trolley operator, was nearing the end of her shift and was extremely fatigued. Both women contributed to the accident. Sally is 30 percent at fault, while Sue is 70 percent to blame. When Sally files a lawsuit against Sue, she will only be able to recover 70 percent of her damages.
It’s important to speak with an attorney if you share the slightest bit of blame for your own injuries. Others involved in your accident will be very aggressive in trying to shift as much of the blame to you as possible. Your attorney can protect your rights and help to prevent these tactics from being successful. The less fault you share, the more money you’ll be able to get.
Have you been injured in a San Diego traffic accident? Contact our San Diego personal injury lawyers so that we can help you fight for the money you deserve. Your first consultation is free, so call for help today.