One of the advantages of living in a city is the plethora of transportation options available, a stark contrast to many rural or suburban areas where driving is often the only realistic option. Many visitors and residents of the Bay Area rely on San Francisco’s Municipal Railway (“Muni”). Unfortunately, Muni accidents involving bicyclists and other non-passengers are an under-recognized danger. As a San Francisco Muni Lawyer, Attorney Greg Brod fights for people injured by Muni vehicles, bringing an understanding of the unique factual and legal contours of these cases to each representation.
Fatal Muni Bicycle Accident in San Francisco on Sunday
A Muni accident left a bicyclist dead on Sunday afternoon. CBS’s San Francisco affiliate reports that a 48-year-old cyclist fell between two Muni buses travelling on the 500 block of Market Street shortly before 3:30 PM. The rider ended up pinned underneath a tire of one of the buses and died as a result of his injuries. A police spokeswoman indicated that officers will review surveillance videos and speak to witnesses in order to determine what happened and who was at fault. Muni officials said the bus driver involved in the crash will be tested for drugs and alcohol and Muni will cooperate in the police investigation. In a separate event, a female rider suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries when she was struck by a truck at 4:01 PM near the intersection of The Embarcadero and Chestnut.
Other Non-Passenger Muni Accidents
Sadly, the Market Street incident was not the first Muni-related death this year. On May 12, a 12-year-old boy was hit by a Muni light rail vehicle as he darted across a crosswalk at the corner of Lakeview and San Jose Avenues. Neighbors told ABC7 that the intersection has seen many close calls, calling it dangerous and asking for traffic control devices to regulate both private and Muni vehicles.
There has also been a history of fatal accidents involving Muni vehicles and bicycle riders. Next week marks the two-year anniversary of the death of a bicyclist in the SoMa neighborhood on October 18, 2013. According to CBS, a Muni bus turning onto Bryant Street struck and killed a male rider. In 2011, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, paid $5.4 million to the representatives of a man who suffered extensive injuries after being struck by a Muni bus on the Great Highway in November 2008. The suit alleged that the bus made a left turn without signaling and without stopping at a stop sign.
Muni Lawsuits Involving Non-Passengers
Muni is a government agency and a common carrier, a legal category that includes any entity that transports people or property for a fee, two factors that make lawsuits against Muni a bit different from typical injury and/or wrongful death claims. As noted on the California Courts website, claims against any government agency must be filed directly with the agency within six months of the incident. If the claim is denied, the prospective plaintiff then has another six months to file a lawsuit. As a common carrier, Muni has an elevated duty to protect its passengers, described in Civil Jury Instruction 902 as an obligation to “use the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person…[and] do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers [or property].” Importantly, this duty only applies to passengers and does not extend to pedestrians, cyclists, or others who might be injured by a Muni vehicle.
A Muni Injury Law Firm
If you were injured or lost a family member and believe Muni is to blame, call our office or use our online contact form to reach our San Francisco Muni accident attorney. A consultation is always free and most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so you only pay us if you recover money.
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(Image by Sebastien Paquet of memorial for bicyclist; memorial unrelated to cases discussed)