Working with Victims Injured While Riding the Miami-Dade Transit System
Even people who don’t use Miami-Dade Transit are probably familiar with the service. It’s everywhere in the Miami area. MDT is the largest public transit system in the state of Florida. It’s Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metromover services are ubiquitous, with more than 9,000 stations or bus stops serving 100 different routes. Nearly 4,000 employees work for MDT to provide these transportation services.
A few years ago, Miami merged two city departments, one including MDT, into the Department of Transportation and Public Works, which now operates MDT. Although the name changed, many things stayed the same. MDT is a government-operated transit service. Many MDT employees work directly or indirectly for the government. It is the city of Miami’s government that is liable for accidents that occur as a result of negligence by the MDT.
MDT is a Common Carrier Held to a Higher Standard of Care
MDT is what is known under the law as a “common carrier.” This means that the MDT is a business that provides public transportation for property and people. In the case of MDT, it is a government-operated common carrier. Whether government or private, a common carrier is liable for any injuries suffered by its passengers as a result of the carrier’s negligence. That duty of care lasts for as long as the passenger is on MDT’s premises prior to completing their journey and leaving their final stop or station. The duty of care of a common carrier applies to train and bus accidents, slip and falls due to hazardous conditions, and any number of accidents resulting in an injury that are a result of the carrier’s negligence.
The duty of care placed upon a common carrier goes beyond the “reasonable person” standard that applies to most negligence actions. According to jury instructions from the Florida Supreme Court:
Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care. (Defendant) is a common carrier.
The reasonable care required of a common carrier for the safety of a passenger is the highest degree of care that is consistent with the type of transportation used and the practical operation of the business of a common carrier of passengers. Negligence of a common carrier is doing something that a very careful person would not do under like circumstances or failing to do something that a very careful person would do under like circumstances.
- Deliver passengers safely to their destination without accidents resulting from MDT’s negligence
- Take all necessary actions to ensure passenger safety during their trip, going beyond the routine maintenance and operation of a safe transit system and station and stop infrastructure
- Provide passengers with safe places to get enter and leave the transit system premises, as well as safe places to board and exit the system’s vehicles, and
- Hire qualified employees who exercise proper safety precautions.
If MDT fails to live up to these standards, the result could be legal liability for MDT if passengers are injured as a result of MDT’s negligence. As a multi-mode common carrier, operating several different kinds of transit services, MDT has many opportunities for accidents. For common carriers, accidents can arise from a wide variety of causes, but for MDT, operating rail, buses, and automated light rail, that variety of causes might be even greater, including:
- Setting work schedules that give too little time off to employees, opening the way to accidents caused by operator fatigue or poor maintenance as a result of worker fatigue
- Insufficient or improper training for drivers or maintenance employees
- Inadequately or insufficiently maintained transit equipment, including trains, buses, rails, or the automated light rail Metromover trains
- Inadequate or lackadaisical supervision of employees
- Failure to discipline vehicle operators or maintenance personnel for poor performance, including reckless vehicle operation or poor or nonexistent performance of maintenance assignments, allowing work and safety deficiencies to continue uninterrupted
- Failure of automated systems, such as Metromover, because of poor maintenance that results in accidents
Maintaining a safe transit system is a daunting task, and failure to do so puts liability squarely on the transit service operator if some failure of care results in an accident causing injuries. Such liability obviously would include accidents that injure passengers using the transit system, and there is ample evidence that MDT suffers from that problem. Bus-related injuries, in particular, are reported to be frequent. But liability would not be limited to accidents that injure passengers on the system. MDT vehicles, especially buses, have a history of injuring people not even using the transit system, including pedestrians and bicyclists. And, of course, MDT likewise would be liable to passengers who are injured in non-vehicular accidents, such as pedestrians, transit users who trip over broken floor tiles in an MDT station, or similar accidents while on MDT premises.
If an accidental injury on MDT is found to be the result of MDT’s negligence, liability for that accident can extend to all the usual measures of damages in an accident liability case. These measures include not just medical expenses, but lost wages, pain, and suffering, long-term care expenses where appropriate, and other damages that might apply.
If You Have Been Injured in an Accident Involving MDT, Contact a Miami MDT Accident Attorney
Accidents involving MDT happen every day, and many of them are a result of MDT violating its duty of care toward its passengers. When you’re hurt, it can be confusing when deciding what steps to take. Whether on a train, a bus, a people mover or simply in an MDT station or bus stop, if you have suffered an injury on MDT premises, you should talk to a Miami MDT accident attorney to examine your options are for recovering damages. Contact Flagler Personal Injury Group at (305) 424-8445 or through our online contact form. Flagler Personal Injury Group services the greater Miami area.