Public buses operated by the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (“TriMet”) provide a much-needed means of transportation for city residents while also helping to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint. Unfortunately, TriMet buses are involved in a significant number of accidents as well, and individuals who are injured in these accidents face some unique hurdles when it comes to recovering just compensation for their injury-related losses.
That said, if you have been injured in a TriMet accident, it is critically important that you not give up on asserting your legal rights. You need to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses, and holding TriMet accountable is essential to reducing the risk of similar accidents in the future. Continue reading to learn more about what you need to know as the victim of a TriMet accident, then contact us to speak with one of our Portland personal injury lawyers about your case for free.
When Can You File a Claim against TriMet?
While there are unique aspects involved in filing a claim against TriMet after a bus accident, the fundamental underlying legal concepts are the same: If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to just compensation under Oregon law. In most TriMet bus accident cases, this involves negligence on the part of the bus driver. Under the legal concept of “vicarious liability,” TriMet is legally responsible for the negligence of its bus drivers in most cases, and this means that accident victims can seek compensation from TriMet directly.
The same basic legal principles apply regardless of whether you were injured while riding on a TriMet bus, while driving or riding in a passenger vehicle, or while walking or riding your bicycle. In addition to bus driver negligence, accident victims can also seek financial compensation for negligent acts and omissions such as failure to perform routine maintenance on TriMet buses and failure to promptly perform necessary repairs.
Of course, after being involved in an accident involving a TriMet bus, you are unlikely to know precisely what caused the collision. Was the bus driver distracted? Did the bus’s brakes fail? Did the driver lack the training and experience necessary to operate the bus safely? In order to determine the specific cause of the accident – and to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation – it will be necessary for you to hire a law firm to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
What Do You Need to Do in Order to File a Claim?
The unique aspects of seeking financial compensation after a TriMet accident have to do with the process of filing your claim. Under Section 30.275 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, there are special timelines and procedures for filing negligence-based claims against state agencies such as TriMet.
In order to file a claim for compensation following a TriMet bus accident, you must first submit a “notice of claim.” The statute states:
“Notice of claim shall be given within the following applicable period of time, not including the period, not exceeding 90 days, during which the person injured is unable to give the notice because of the injury or because of minority, incompetency or other incapacity: (a)For wrongful death, within one year after the alleged loss or injury[; or,] (b)For all other claims, within 180 days after the alleged loss or injury.”
In other words, unless you can show that you were unable to file a claim due to the effects of your injuries, you have 180 days to submit your notice of claim. If you are incapacitated for any period of time, you have up to an additional 90 days, depending on the duration of your incapacity. If you lost a loved one in a TriMet bus accident, you have up to a year to submit your notice of claim to the Director of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
Provided that you file your notice of claim on time (and in accordance with the other procedural and substantive requirements established in Section 30.275), then you can pursue a claim for compensation against TriMet. Similar to bus accident claims filed against private transportation companies, in order to prove that you are entitled to compensation, you will need evidence that establishes both (i) the cause of the accident, and (ii) the extent of your economic and non-economic losses.
Does TriMet Settle Bus Accident Claims?
Another unique aspect of TriMet bus accident claims is that TriMet is self-insured. Essentially, this means that TriMet maintains funds on hand to pay personal injury claims out of pocket rather than contracting with a private insurer. As a result, rather than dealing with insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers, you will be dealing with TriMet’s own investigators, adjusters, and attorneys. These individuals are often highly experienced in dealing with TriMet accident claims, and as a result, they tend to have extensive knowledge of the types of issues raised by accident victims and their families.
When responding to bus accident claims, TriMet personnel have the authority to negotiate settlements or take accident victims’ claims to trial. If the evidence suggests that it is in the agency’s best interests to settle, then TriMet’s attorneys will attempt to negotiate a resolution in good faith. However, if they believe for any reason that an accident victim’s claim is unsubstantiated or unjustified, then they will vigorously defend against the claim at trial.
Have you been injured in a TriMet bus accident as a passenger, vehicle driver, cyclist, or pedestrian? Have you lost a loved one in a TriMet bus accident? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation about your claim.
Speak with a Bus Accident Lawyer at D’Amore Law Group
Our bus accident lawyers handle claims against TriMet. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed, call or text us 24/7 or contact us online for a free consultation.