Can You Sue the Municipality for Driver Negligence or Failure to Maintain a Vehicle?
Though the pandemic has seen a marked decline in the number of people using public transportation, it remains an essential way for many to get to work and medical appointments or do necessary shopping. Though studies consistently show that traveling by bus, train or light rail is significantly safer than driving your own vehicle, there is still the risk you might be injured by a negligent driver or improperly maintained vehicle.
In the wake of most motor vehicle accidents, an injured person may file a lawsuit against any party with potential liability. The same generally holds true with respect to mass transit accidents, but there are some differences when one of the defendants is a municipality or other public entity.
Sovereign Immunity and the New Jersey Tort Claims Act
Until 1972, a governmental body could not be sued due to the legal concept of sovereign immunity. Officials rationalized this principle by arguing that without such immunity, the government would be continually defending itself in court and couldn’t dedicate its full efforts to serving citizens.
In 1972, however, the New Jersey legislature enacted the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, which set forth both the limited instances in which a governmental body can be sued, as well as the procedural requirements involved in such legal action:
- As a general rule, you can bring an action against a public entity if you would have had a claim, based on the circumstances of the accident, had the wrongdoer been a private individual.
- Damages for pain and suffering are limited, and you cannot recover from the government for losses covered by insurance
- Unlike other personal injury claims, where you have two years to file a claim, you must file a claim against a governmental body within 90 days of the accident
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after a mass transit accident injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton. Currently, all our client communications are by phone, text message or videoconference.
We handle all wrongful death claims on a contingent-fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.