Gettting a Recovery for New York City Bus Accidents; The Importance of the Incident Report


If you have the misfortune of getting injured on a New York City Transit Authority bus, the first rule is get an incident report.

We have had to refuse many potential cases because the clients did not have accident reports.  As a general rule, an unreported accident will result in either no recovery or a very limited recovery.  Generally, NYCTA will refuse to settle a case where there has been no report.

Here is an example of a case that we had to decline due to the lack of a report:

A pedestrian was injured while waiting to board a bus.

She was waiting on the sidewalk for the automated handicapped ramp to be pulled back onto the bus.  A piece of the ramp came loose and struck the client. 

Although it appeared that the NYCTA operator was negligent, we could not take the case because the client did not insist on medical assistance.  No incident report was taken, and the client had no way of proving an accident.  We had to decline this case. 

NYCTA’s rationale for refusing settlement is that without a report evidencing an accident, there is no independent proof that an accident has happened.  In other words, NYCTA will question whether the accident occurred.  By its own internal rules NYCTA bus operators must stop and have accidents reported.  Therefore, a bus operator will deny the accident because his failure to follow the procedures of getting the incident report is a rule violation and can result in discipline.  

Here is the NYCTA procedure:

  • In an accident involving either bodily injury or property damage, the bus operator must stop the bus and call his dispatcher/supervisor for assistance.
  • The bus will be taken out of service to await the NYCTA supervisor and NYPD police and an ambulance.  The non-injured passengers will be allowed to leave unless they are witnesses.
  • An NYCTA supervisor will come to the scene and take a report as well as conduct some investigation, such as collect witness statements. 
  • The NYCTA incident report will consist of many pages and will be separate from the NYPD accident report.  The NYPD report is a public record and can be obtained shortly after the accident.  However, the NYCTA report is a private accident report available only during the course of the litigation. 
  • The injured person will be taken from the scene by ambulance.

One positive element of having the NYCTA and NYPD report to the scene is that the happening of an accident will not be an issue.  However, there may be issues as to how the accident occurred and whether NYCTA has ultimate responsibility.

If you have been injured by an NYCTA bus, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

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