Texting while driving automobiles has been the focus of a lot of conversation in the recent past, in several states. In Massachusetts alone, a new law against texting while driving became effective in 2010. Most people, though, wouldn’t expect that the problem of texting while driving would be witnessed on a subway car.
Yet in 2009, that’s exactly what happened on a Green Line subway car operated by a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) driver. The subway car driver had been sending a text message to his girlfriend while accelerating the trolley from zero to 25 miles per hour along 586 feet of subway track. The driver went through a yellow subway light and ran two red subway lights before colliding with a stationery trolley with its brake lights on, in the Government Center MBTA stop. The crash injured 68 people and caused nearly $10 million in MBTA property damage. Samantha Mattei, 21, was one of those 68 injured. As a result of the crash, she suffered a broken back, a serious concussion, nerve damage, and lacerations to her face. She also suffered other injuries causing vertigo, nausea, and constant headaches. Two years after the accident, she still walks with a cane. Because she cannot drive a car due to her injuries, her parents must drive her everywhere. Because she has difficulty concentrating on her academic studies, she says she is on the verge of losing her scholarships.
So it came as no surprise that Ms. Mattei last week filed a lawsuit against the MBTA and Aiden Quinn, the subway car operator, in Salem Superior Court. In filing her suit, Ms. Mattei told the Boston Globe that “I was injured as a result of something that was perfectly preventable. As a result of negligence, I was personally affected in a way that has cost me money, time, and many parts of my life. I would like to see things change for the better.” The Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit seeks $51,425 as compensation for medical bills and lost wages, as well as damages for pain and suffering. If the case is not settled prior to trial, a jury would decide how much, if any, to award for pain and suffering. MBTA officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing its policy not to comment on pending litigation. A spokesman did note, however, that the trolley operator, that Aiden Quinn, was fired by the MBTA, and pleaded guilty last December to negligent operation of the trolley, a misdemeanor.
As a Boston bus accident lawyer, I can assure readers that accidents involving public (as well as private) trains and buses happen far more than most people would think. Most people like to think that when they get on a bus or train, they’re safe. Not so. Bus accidents cause thousands of personal injuries in the United States each year. In Massachusetts, cases involving personal injury and wrongful death are not at all uncommon. Massachusetts bus accidents can be caused by the same factors that cause private passenger accidents, including speeding, driver errors or fatigue, weather conditions, and even intoxication. Added to this list is the potential for maintenance violations. Subway cars and trains, like buses, are classified as common carriers. What this means is that, legally, they are held to a higher standard of liability. If you have been injured due to the negligence of a train operator, the owner and/or operator of that bus or train may be liable for your injuries.
The personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of William D. Kickham and Associates of Westwood and Boston have many years of experience representing individuals who have been injured in MBTA accidents, as well as in accidents involving private-held bus companies. If you have been involved in train or bus accident, we know how to represent your case to maximize the financial recovery you may receive. Contact us for a free consultation. We can advise you if you have an actionable case, and what your legal options are.