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Can personal liability law deter negligence and reduce accidents?

In the wake of the Amtrak tragedy, Maryland transit commuters might be questioning whether their local route is being safely maintained. Those concerns might be aggravated by a recent news report involving the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. According to sources, WMATA might be facing a financial hardship, including a potential default on its loans due in June. 

Proper maintenance of train infrastructure is essential for safety. Indeed, our personal injury attorneys know that routine maintenance is often considered part of a mass transit company’s duty of care to its passengers. Other duties might include the proper training of train operators and other employees involved in train operations and maintenance. 

Individuals in many areas of Maryland depend on WMATA for their commute. Yet is that dependence misplaced? For some, confidence is already shaky after the crash in 2009, where track circuits in need of repairs may have contributed to the crash. However, many commuters also don’t want to fight with Beltway traffic, where aggressive drivers and frequent congestion may increase the chance of an auto accident.

At a minimum, commuters deserve to be informed if mass transit resources are no longer safe. If funds are tight, cutting corners on employee training or infrastructure is not the answer. Indeed, if those deficits cause an accident, companies may face even greater potential debts from the personal injury or wrongful death claims of passengers.

No one wants to be involved in an accident, and personal injury law can go a long way toward encouraging responsible, safe behavior. It is well established that negligent behaviors might subject an individual or company to financial liability, assuming the other elements of causation and injury are proven. Our office focuses on personal injury litigation. We have seen serious injuries from accidents up close. Let’s hope our officials take a more proactive approach.

Source: Greater Greater Washington, “Our transit systems are falling apart. What can we do?” David Alpert, May 13, 2015

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