SF Muni Accidents: How To Tell If You Have A Lawsuit
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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The San Francisco Municipal (Muni) Railway System is a common carrier operating light rail vehicles, an extensive bus system, trolleys and streetcars. Serving 200 million passengers every year, accidents are bound to happen. And they do – frequently. So, how do you know if you have a lawsuit against Muni and how can you beat the very short six month deadline to file? To find out, we asked J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice represents those injured by the Muni public transportation system.
Determining whether you have case
If you are a passenger on the railway system and there’s an accident involving your cable car or bus with any other vehicle and you’re injured, then you likely have a claim against the Municipal Railway system and possibly against a driver of another vehicle, according to Dorit. He explained:
I would say that anybody who’s either a passenger or a pedestrian, or another driver or a passenger in another car that’s involved in an accident where the Municipal Railway appears to have been at fault, has a legitimate claim against the Municipal Railway system. If the injury is serious enough, they’re better off talking to a private attorney rather than to the Municipal Railway investigators.
Dealing directly with Muni’s claim department not always advisable
Muni has it’s own claim department, but Dorit says that it’s not always advisable to use it after you’ve been injured. He explained:
I believe that somebody in the Municipal Railway system is assigned to risk management, although when the cases get to be litigated cases – that is, where there is an attorney involved because it’s a fairly serious injury – the city attorney’s office for the City of San Francisco defends the Municipal Railway system.
For anything involving a hospitalization, a serious injury, a fracture or worse, I think the prudent course of action would be not to deal directly with the Municipal Railway system, but rather to go through an attorney. There are a number of very strict deadlines that apply to those claims and there’s information that has to be generated to present the claim. Because this deadline is so short, going to the Municipal Railway system may involve delay that ultimately leaves the person without a remedy for their claim because the time has expired.
Strict six month statute of limitations to file a claim
The deadline for making a claim against Muni is only six months – and Dorit says that it’s a strict six-month deadline from the date of injury which applies to all public entities in California, the State of California and the County of San Francisco. The Municipal Railway, being part of the County and City of San Francisco, is covered by that deadline. Dorit told us why meeting that deadline is often difficult:
Let’s say that somebody is injured or hospitalized for some period of time. By the time they’re done with their hospitalization, they’re home, they get their bearings and they make arrangements for whatever they have to do for their work or with their family, oftentimes they’re coming well into that six-month period. They’re close to the deadline, so it would be important to speak with an attorney right away whenever there’s any Municipal Railway accident because of that deadline.
If you’ve been injured by a Muni vehicle, contact an experienced California train injury attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to damages for your injuries – but don’t forget the six month deadline to file.