SEPTA commuter train

Getting Compensation After a SEPTA Train or Trolley Accident

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)  train accidents in Philadelphia can result in severe injuries and significant disruptions to one’s life. Victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and other damages. The process of obtaining compensation involves navigating complex legal and regulatory frameworks, often requiring the assistance of an experienced attorney. Those affected by SEPTA train accidents must understand their rights and the procedures for filing claims to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Pennsylvania Laws for Public Transportation Accidents

Suppose you have been involved in a SEPTA train or trolley accident in Philadelphia. In that case, it  is necessary to be knowledgeable about the unique legal and procedural rules that apply to accidents involving public transportation systems and to take the following steps: 

  • Understanding Your Rights: It is essential to understand that as a passenger, pedestrian, or party injured due to a SEPTA vehicle, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, claims against public entities like SEPTA have specific requirements and limitations.
  • Reporting the Accident: Immediately following the accident, report the incident to SEPTA authorities and the police. Documenting the event accurately and promptly can be crucial for your claim. Get a copy of the accident report, as it will be an essential piece of evidence.
  • Seeking Medical Attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, it is crucial to get medical attention immediately. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and having a medical record right after the accident can significantly support your claim.
  • Documenting Your Case: Collect as much evidence as possible, including photographs of the scene, your injuries, witness contact information, and any personal accounts of the incident. Keep all receipts and records of expenses related to the incident, including medical bills and any other costs incurred due to the accident.
  • Understanding SEPTA’s Sovereign Immunity and Notice Requirements: SEPTA, as a state-affiliated entity, enjoys certain protections under Pennsylvania law, including sovereign immunity. There are strict limitations and procedures for filing a claim. Notably, you must file a notice of intent to sue the city of Philadelphia within six months of the accident. This notice must contain specific information, and failing to comply with these requirements can result in the dismissal of your claim.
  • Dealing with SEPTA’s Insurance: SEPTA’s insurance company may contact you after reporting the accident. Be cautious when dealing with insurance adjusters, as their primary goal is to minimize the company’s liability. It is usually advisable to consult with an attorney before signing anything or providing a recorded statement.
  • Hiring an Attorney: Navigating the complexities of a claim against SEPTA can be challenging. An attorney experienced in SEPTA accidents can provide invaluable assistance. They can help ensure that all procedural requirements are met, assist with collecting evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If you cannot reach a fair settlement through insurance negotiations, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years. However, due to the sovereign immunity and notice requirements for claims against SEPTA, the actual timeframe for action can be much shorter.
  • Compensation and Damages: If your claim is successful, you could be entitled to various forms of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. However, awards against government entities like SEPTA may be subject to caps under state law.


Compensation after a SEPTA train or trolley accident involves navigating a complex legal landscape with specific rules and limitations. Prompt action, thorough documentation, and legal representation are critical elements for a successful claim. Cooper Schall & Levy have experienced personal injury attorneys who can advise you based on the specifics of your situation. Contact our office for a complimentary initial consultation.