Are Light Rail and RTD Losing Their Luster?

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Expanded light rail and bus service in the Denver-Boulder region has made it easier for commuters, students, and tourists to get around the area. While enhanced public transit options have eased some issues, this expansion has come at a price. There have been multiple incidents in the past decade where the courts have found RTD at fault for causing injury and fatality accidents involving motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.

Causes of Public Transit Accidents

There are many causes of accidents involving RTD trains and buses. These include distractions while operating the vehicle, engineer/driver errors, equipment failures, as well as damaged rails. In some instances, track defects including faulty rail switches and malfunctioning crossing gates can cause or contribute to causing an accident.

Negligence Puts the Public at Risk

Many public transit accidents are the result of negligence on the part of the transportation provider. In 2015, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor determined that RTD needed to enhance enforcement of rules regarding the use of electronic devices while operating buses and trains.

The audit also determined that RTD was not sufficiently monitoring and conducting oversight over private carriers contracted by RTD to perform services. These violations included failing to ensure physical fitness, performing drug/alcohol testing, and restricting operators to hours of duty limits established by the federal government. It remains to be seen whether RTD has corrected these deficiencies and the next audit required by Colorado statutes is not scheduled to take place until 2020.

Short Timelines and Liability Limits for Public Transit Claims

If you are in an accident involving an RTD train or bus, Colorado statutes require you to file your notice of claim within six months of the incident. If you fail to file your notice, the court is likely to dismiss the claim. This is because RTD is considered a government entity and thus covered by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.

Additionally, it is important to know that liability is limited in claims filed against RTD. Under the statutes, RTD can only be held responsible for up to $150,000 per person, or $600,000 per accident.

Sloat & Nicholson, P.C. can help you pursue compensation following a public transit accident. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and the legal options available to you.