Boston travelers are taking a deep breath after several dangerous incidents on the MBTA.
If you have been injured on the MBTA or another common carrier, these injury claims are distinct from other negligence claims. Common carriers owe their passengers the “highest degree of care,” a higher duty than other drivers or private carriers.
MBTA accidents are highly traumatic for everyone on board. If you have been injured, promptly consult a lawyer experienced in investigating MBTA crashes, derailments and other transportation accidents. As police and safety agencies investigate, a MBTA accident lawyer can launch an independent investigation and help you obtain coverage for medical care while protecting your legal rights.
What is a Common Carrier?
A common carrier holds itself out as willing to provide transportation services to the public for a fee. Common carriers may include the MBTA, train companies, airlines, regional transportation agencies, privately-owned bus companies or limo services.
Common carriers owe passengers the “highest degree of care” because passengers have little control over the operation of their transport, the actions of the employees, the conduct of the business and their own safety. Holton v. Boston Elevated Ry., 303 Mass. 242, 244, 21 N.E.2d 251 (1939).
Common law recognizes both common carriers and private carriers. A private carrier offers transportation services by special arrangement or contract. When someone is injured on a private carrier, such as a friend’s car, the ordinary rules of negligence apply, not the heightened duty of care that applies to common carriers. Houle v. Lewonis, 245 Mass. 254, 255, 140 N.E. 427 (1923).
Passengers Suffer Injuries on Green Line Crash on July 30, 2021
In addition to local and state police, the National Transportation Safety Board has the authority to investigate accidents involving common carriers.
In Boston, authorities have been investigating the Green Line trolley crash which injured 27 people, including 4 train operators, along Commonwealth Avenue on July 30, 2021. A 50-year-old train operator is accused of driving 31 mph – three times the speed limit – and then running into another train (Source: NBC Boston). The MBTA has reportedly placed the operator on unpaid leave, as he faces charges.
On Oct. 6, 2021, the MBTA operator was arraigned in Brighton District Court on charges of gross negligence of a person in control of a train and gross negligence of a person having care of a common carrier.
Common carriers can be held liable when their employees act in an unsafe manner and put the public at risk for injury. The MBTA has a responsibility to hire employees who are qualified to operate large vehicles, and is also responsible for providing proper supervision.
There are questions about the driver’s experience prior to the July 30th crash. WCVB reports the driver had been suspended by the MBTA at least six times over seven years!
Troubling History of Green Line Crashes in Boston
Over the past 15 years, MBTA trolley operators have caused many serious crashes and injuries in Boston. Breakstone, White & Gluck represented a survivor of the May 28th, 2008 Green Line crash on the D branch in Newton. The Green Line operator died in this crash. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded the cause was both operator error and lack of automated systems, according to WBUR, “NTSB Faults T Safety Systems in Deadly Trolley Crash,” July 15, 2009.
Then on May 8, 2009, a Green Line operator was texting his girlfriend and crashed between Government Center and Park Street, injuring 50 passengers. The crash caused nearly $10 million in damage to three trolley cars, according to news reports.
While prosecutors sought jail time, the 24-year-old ultimately pleaded guilty to negligence and was sentenced to serve two years of probation and perform 100 hours of community service.
The Green Line derailments and crashes have continued. In 2019, The Boston Globe reported the MBTA had seen 43 train derailments over a five-year period, the second-worst safety record in the country.
The Globe reported this in the wake of June 8, 2019, when a Green Line derailed between the Kenmore and Fenway stops. The train went off the tracks around 11 a.m. on a busy Saturday. The Red Sox were just about to open a double-header against the Tampa Rays at Fenway Park. Eleven people were injured and 600 riders were displaced.
The MBTA placed the operator – who was among the injured – on leave pending an investigation. The MBTA initially cited operator error as the likely cause, according to the Boston Herald.
Consult a MBTA Accident Lawyer – Free Legal Consultation
Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing those injured by the MBTA and other common carriers. We have successfully recovered multi-million awards for clients injured in major transportation accidents, including Green Line subway crashes and bus accidents. Read more about our results for clients injured in MBTA crashes.
If you or a loved one has been injured by negligence, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation with our attorneys, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.