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.

Woman boarding a SEPTA bus

Common Reasons for SEPTA Accidents

Making use of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) can be a great way to get around. SEPTA offers commuters bus, trolley, train, and subway routes for their travels. It is usually safe, but accidents do happen. SEPTA accidents most commonly involve buses, but all of the different transportation methods can be involved in accident cases as well. Taking into account that SEPTA is such a commonly utilized mode of transportation used by people throughout Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania, SEPTA accidents put residents at risk of what can potentially be devastating injuries.

Causes of SEPTA Accidents

Negligence is generally the root cause of all accidents. The type of negligence and the person responsible for the negligent action or inaction will dictate who will be responsible for compensating the parties injured due to the negligence. With SEPTA accidents, the causes are most commonly:

  • Driver and Operator Negligence. The operators of SEPTA vehicles and modes of transportation have a duty to exercise due care in an effort to keep passengers and others safe. Unfortunately, when drivers fail to uphold this duty, accidents happen and people are injured as a result. Some telltale signs of driver or operator negligence include a driver operating the vehicle while distracted by things such as a phone or other mobile device. Drivers that eat while working also put people at risk. Some drivers proceed to drive despite being exhausted and over-tired. Drowsy driving is particularly dangerous as it leads to slowed reaction time and the ability to effectively judge vehicle operating conditions.
  • Non-SEPTA Driver Negligence. Sometimes, it is not the SEPTA driver whose negligence caused an accident. Oftentimes, it is other drivers of cars, trucks, and other vehicles that let to an accident that involved a SEPTA vehicle. Other drivers on the road can cause accidents by failing to observe the rules and laws of the road. Like SEPTA operators, these people can engage in dangerous behavior such as driving while drunk, drowsy, or distracted.
  • Negligent vehicle maintenance. The buses, trolleys, subways, and trains operated by SEPTA must be properly maintained in order to remain safe for passengers and others. Failure to conduct the necessary, regular maintenance can be dangerous and lead to accidents resulting in injuries.
  • Negligent property maintenance. In addition to vehicles needing regular maintenance, SEPTA property need to be properly maintained as well. Lack of property maintenance can cause dangerous conditions on SEPTA property such as train platforms. In the past, there has been evidence that SEPTA has taken shortcuts regarding property maintenance and accidents have occurred as a result.

What these frequent causes of SEPTA accidents all have in common is their potential for causing serious injury. Victims of SEPTA accidents have been left with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI, broken bones, and other devastating injuries.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in a SEPTA accident, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are here for you. We fight for our clients’ rights to full and fair compensation for their injuries. Contact us today.