Can You Sue BART in San Francisco?
Bay Area Rapid Transit, also known simply as “BART,” is relied upon by numerous commuters across the San Francisco area. But is it really safe? Ask people who use this service regularly, and they’ll probably raise a few concerns. This should come as no surprise, as the train system has been shrouded in controversy over the past few weeks, months, and years. Whether it is a malfunction that drags pedestrians, a shooting, or an assault, there are plenty of safety concerns associated with BART.
But can you really sue the organization for injuries sustained while riding one of their trains? How easy is it to sue a government organization? What are your chances of winning a settlement? How much can you get for your injuries? Is it even worth the trouble? These are just a few questions injured victims might have as they approach a potential personal injury lawsuit after an accident associated with BART.
Record Settlement Reached for BART Victim
Back in February of 2023, a BART rider reached a settlement of more than $9 million with the organization. The settlement stemmed from an incident in 2021 that saw the man being dragged along the track. The incident caused him to have his leg amputated. According to court documents, the man was dragged after having his coat caught in the closing door of a train. This resulted in him being dragged in a manner that caused catastrophic leg injuries. Court documents also revealed that the train operator may have “ignored” the obstruction warning light as he/she left the platform. BART notably assumed zero liability for the injury by agreeing to the settlement, which is the largest the organization has ever paid to an injured plaintiff.
Woman Dragged and Killed by BART Train: The NTSB Report
Accounts of people being dragged by BART trains are all too familiar in San Francisco. On March 26, the National Transportation Safety Board finally released its report on a woman’s dragging death on a BART train back in 2021. The only thing we knew prior to this report was the fact that the woman boarded the train, attempted to disembark, and was dragged by the train when her dog’s leash became caught in the doors. She impacted a gate at high speed and died of multiple blunt force traumas.
The official NTSB report gives us more details. The train operator apparently followed the appropriate safety protocols, and the doors’ sensors did not alert the operator to the obstruction. This was because the dog’s leash was too thin to trigger the sensors. The report also detailed the intoxication levels of the people involved. While the train operator was sober during the incident, the deceased victim apparently had cocaine, meth, and fentanyl in her system. That being said, investigators concluded that her inebriation probably did not play a role in her death.
The report did point out a few things that BART can improve on, however. It pointed to dim lighting that made it difficult for the operator to see what passengers were doing on the platform. However, BART has apparently already made improvements in this regard, installing LED lighting and painting the walls a lighter color. The official conclusion was that the death was accidental.
BART Passenger Grazed by Bullet
But mechanical issues are not the only factors that pose risks to BART passengers. People are also suffering injuries due to violence and criminal behavior on the trains. On March 17, 2023 it was reported that a BART passenger had been grazed by a bullet after getting into an argument with another individual. The bullet grazed his skull, causing non-life-threatening injuries. The police were not able to locate the individual who fired the weapon, and surveillance footage showed the attacker striking the victim with the handgun as well. In response, BART announced that it would increase its security presence on the trains, including an additional “8 to 18” officers who will join the ten officers already patrolling the system.
BART President Blames San Francisco for Safety Issues
If you want to sue BART, you have to realize that this organization has a tendency to shift the blame onto others. On March 15th, the BART board president claimed that the city and the county governments of San Francisco were to blame for increasing safety issues. This comes at a time when crowds are at their worst, and violence has become commonplace. Violent altercations are so common, in fact, that a number of businesses have started offering self-defense classes specifically geared toward public transit riders. Riders are all saying the same thing: that security is a major concern today. BART, on the other hand, claims that issues in the city are “bleeding over” into the transit system. The president made the following statement:
“Our effectiveness of these programs is really, really limited by honestly the City and County of San Francisco’s inability to have real solutions and real exits from homelessness and to really deal with the addiction crisis that we have here and until the City and County of San Francisco can get it together in finding those solutions we will inevitably see those things happen on BART.”
There is at least some truth to these statements. After all, riders regularly complain of the unhoused taking up rows of seats during rush hour. Some even take drugs while on board the trains, making the situation completely untenable. But the end result is clear: Someone must shoulder the liability for the lack of safety associated with BART in the modern era.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney in San Francisco?
If you have been searching for a qualified personal injury attorney in San Francisco, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. We know that BART is becoming increasingly dangerous, and we are ready to assist anyone who has been injured while riding this service. A number of transit-related incidents and accidents can lead to personal injury lawsuits, and the only way to truly explore your legal options is to book a consultation with a legal professional. During this consultation, we can discuss your unique situation and determine the best route forward. Reach out today to get started.