The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transportation services operating buses and trains to offer paratransit options to disabled riders. Smaller vehicles like mini-buses and travel vans operated by nursing homes, for example, are also generally equipped with paratransit devices. The most common device is a wheelchair lift that enables disabled riders to board or disembark from a bus, train, van, or other vehicle.
Providers of transportation with paratransit options are required by law to maintain their paratransit equipment properly and keep it safe for its riders. They should inspect their equipment regularly, replaced worn or defective parts, and be aware of paratransit equipment recalls. However, some operators are less conscientious than others about proper maintenance and safety standards, and paratransit accidents can result from operator negligence. Most paratransit accidents take place when wheelchair users are boarding or disembarking from a vehicle, and approximately half of these mishaps result in injury to the disabled passenger.
Common Paratransit Wheelchair Accidents and Injuries
Paratransit wheelchair accidents can occur because lift surfaces are slippery, wheelchairs are not stabilized on the lift, roll-stop latches malfunction, equipment has been improperly installed, or the driver of the vehicle operates the paratransit equipment negligently.
Potential Injuries From Maryland Paratransit Equipment
- Broken bones
- Sprained joints
- Strained muscles
- Lacerations and scarring
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a paratransit accident caused by negligent operation or defective equipment, you’re entitled to file a claim against the insurers of the responsible parties for your present and future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced future earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.
There May Be More Than One Defendant
Most vehicles with paratransit options are not privately owned. They’re likely to be operated by a commercial transportation company, a medical facility, or a public transit department. This means, multiple parties might be responsible for your accident and injuries.
- The owner of the vehicle
- The driver or operator of the vehicle
- The operator’s employer
- The manufacturer or installer of the paratransit equipment
- A replacement parts manufacturer
- A repair service that maintains the vehicle
Filing damage claims against these multiple parties, who might all have different insurance companies, can be a complex legal process best handled by an experienced paratransit accident lawyer while you recover from your injuries.
The Role of Your Lawyer in an MD Paratransit Accident
If you’re injured in a paratransit accident, it’s important to contact a paratransit accident attorney right away. They can help you to seek fair compensation for your damages.
How a Lawyer Can Help
- By thoroughly investigating your accidents, perhaps with the help of an accident reconstructionist
- By collecting and analyzing evidence to determine the percentage of liability of all responsible parties
- By interviewing witnesses to the accident
- By obtaining footage from any nearby video cameras and data from the vehicle’s on-board computers
- By bringing in expert witnesses to give testimony or statements about your case
- By consulting your doctors to determine your future medical needs, put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, and evaluate your case accurately
- By making sure you comply with the statute of limitations and other procedural requirements
- By handling all communication with adjusters and lawyers from the defendants’ insurance companies
- By demanding a reasonable settlement
- By negotiating with multiple insurance companies for fair compensation
- By filing multiple lawsuits and taking your case to trial if a fair settlement is not offered
- By filing a wrongful death or survival action if you’ve lost a loved one in the accident
Since most law firms will offer you a free first consultation, you have much to gain and nothing to lose by consulting a paratransit accident lawyer who can evaluate your case, tell you where you stand, and advise you on how to proceed with your claim.
Another reason to have an attorney when filing a paratransit accident claim is the contributory negligence standard the state of Maryland follows in personal injury cases. If you’re found to be even one percent responsible for your own accident, you can be denied all compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. The defendant(s) will have lawyers working to prove you were partially at fault even if you weren’t. Your attorney can work to gather all possible evidence showing the vehicle operator and other defendants were completely liable for your accident.
Have You Been Hurt in a Paratransit Wheelchair Accident in Maryland?
An experienced paratransit accident attorney can help you seek fair compensation for your damages. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 301-790-3600 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.