TriMet provides public transportation by the MAX light rail and bus in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties. They are a quasi-governmental agency, so special rules regarding insurance and lawsuits apply to them.
While the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against TriMet is, in most cases, the same as other personal injury lawsuits, Oregon Revised Statutes require that since TriMet is a public body, a tort claim notice must be filed with TriMet within 180 days of the incident, under most circumstances. If that notice is not filed, you will lose your right to sue TriMet for the injury. Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations and failing to send the tort claim notice are two of the biggest reasons are sued by their own clients. Do not let this happen to you, and make sure you find an attorney versed in the rules regarding lawsuits against public bodies.
TriMet is self-insured, meaning they do not have to hire an independent company to determine fault, handle claims and pay for their negligence. Instead, TriMet employs their own insurance adjusters and attorneys to process, negotiate and litigate claims. The less money they pay on these claims, the better it is for their bottom line. These employees know the rules that apply to TriMet, because that is all they do; they’re not practicing any other types of cases or dealing with any other legal issues. If you hire an attorney with no experience handling a case against TriMet, you are at a disadvantage.
TriMet also contracts out some of their work to independent companies that are self-insured. The vehicles might say “TriMet” on the side and sport the logo, but in reality, the negligent party might actually be located in the Midwest and have their own liability insurance. Knowing who you’re negotiating with is a fundamental element of a successful personal injury case.
Most of TriMet’s vehicles come equipped with video cameras. It seems obvious, but bears mentioning nonetheless, video evidence can be the most persuasive evidence presented in a personal injury case. Cameras do not lie, nor do they forget. Often, these videos protect TriMet from false claims, but when someone is truly injured due to an operator’s negligence, their own video can be used against them. If you have been injured on TriMet and you have notified them, they might destroy this evidence. Therefore, it’s key to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve any evidence.
The problematic nature of bus and light rail incidents is the sheer size and speed of the vehicle, coupled with the number of occupants means that serious injuries, including spinal cord damage, brain injury, bone fractures, concussions, whiplash and similar injuries can occur. There are multiple elements that can cause a bus incident, such as negligent driving, a non-secure bus environment, damaged streets, improper bus maintenance, broken bus components, dangerous weather and driving conditions, drug and/or alcohol use, road rage and fatigue. Whatever the cause, as a TriMet passenger or a cyclist, pedestrian or driver, you have the right to safety.