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“I was hurt while riding on a commuter train when the door closed on me, can I sue?”

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who says the were hurt while riding on a train when the door closed on them, would like to know if they can sue as a result of an injury suffered on a commuter train?

The short answer is mostly yes, but sometimes no. I know this probably seems like an unclear answer, but let me explain.

In Indiana, trains and buses are operated as quasi-governmental agencies. This is important since most people don’t see buses and trains as government agencies. This is especially true if the name on the vehicle suggests that a private company is operating the commuter service. Even if the operator is technically a private company, a statute gives them protections under the law in many cases as if they actually were the government.

This means that they qualify for governmental immunity. In general, in Indiana, like in many states, governmental agencies are immune from being sued unless you provide timely notice of the intent to sue.

Timely notice given to the government, in this case of a train or bus operator, allows for the opportunity to investigate the circumstances of the claim. Typically, notice needs to be given within 180 days of an incident. But, there are exceptions.

Another component of governmental immunity is that many acts or omissions that typically would count as negligence, or a lack of reasonable

care, simply do not qualify as wrongdoing when a government employee is involved.

For example, there is immunity for failure to make a safety inspection. For example, the train operator fails to inspect crossing gates when they should have been inspected.

Also, there is immunity for mistakes made in issuing a license. Say for example the government gives a license to practice medicine, when in fact the candidate does not qualify for a license.

So yes, if you provide timely notice to the operation of the commuter train when you fall or are otherwise injured, you can sue for your injuries caused by the negligence of the employees and agents of the train operator. If you fail to provide timely notice, you may be out of luck, and if you make it past the notice hurdle there are other landmines just waiting to blow up your case.

The best answer is always consult with an attorney after you are injured on a train or bus to learn in detail about your legal rights and to make sure you don’t lose what rights you have.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.