The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a jury award on Wednesday from a 2013 attack on an NJ Transit bus that could see more suits against the public transit authority. The justices determined travel on NJ Transit follows the same heightened duty of care demanded of private carriers, such as chartered bus companies.
The victim needed 22 stitches after a group of harassing teens on an NJ Transit bus in Newark threw a glass bottle at her. The victim attempted to move away from the group and alerted the bus driver of the behavior. The bus driver knew of the harassment but chose not to stop the bus and intervene, as he did not believe it was part of his responsibility. After the attack, it took 15 minutes for NJ Transit to get involved and contact authorities. The attackers were never found.
The victim’s suit, filed in 2014, accused NJ Transit of breaching their common-carrier duty of protecting her during the ride from her co-passengers. The Essex County jury agreed with her argument and found NJ Transit fully liable for the damages. The jury awarded the victim $1.8 million. NJ Transit attempted multiple appeals.
The ruling is seen as a victory for transit riders and showed the court’s commitment to protect citizens on modes of mass transit. With the ruling, NJ Transit now faces a new mandate to update policies, educate operators, and create new ways to keep passengers safe. They will have to do so with decreased revenue from ridership and a tightening state budget. Violence on public transit has increased nationwide, despite COVID-19 concerns. Oftentimes, carrying vehicles may have cameras to record activity but insufficient personnel to intervene and prevent incidents.
An accident or violent assault on mass transit is rare but it is a horrifying experience. The physical and emotional trauma can last a lifetime. The Freehold personal injury lawyers at Ellis Law will fight to obtain the compensation victims deserve. Call 732-308-0200 or fill out an online form for a free consultation. Located in Freehold, the firm serves clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York City.