Massachusetts Considering Cap on MBTA Accident Claims

Governor Deval Patrick and a blue-ribbon panel sought a $100,000 cap on damages paid for public transit accidents, but before the vote, the Massachusetts Senate’s Ways and Means Committee added loophole exempting cases that involve “serious bodily injury or death.”

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for the MBTA, said the transit authority has been seeking such a cap since 1985. He estimates that such caps could save the transit authority 20 to 25 percent in personal injury-related claims.

Right now the MBTA is appealing two judgments totaling $20 million. One case involves a woman who was hit by a bus while standing at a bus stop in Somerville. Another involves a woman who lost a leg following a bus accident in 2004.

However, Senator Steven Panagiotakos, a personal injury lawyer in Lowell, claims that mass transit agencies should not be exempt from paying high liability awards because of the dangerous nature of transportation.

“If they’re getting hit with punitive damages, it’s a sign it’s a pretty serious matter to begin with,” said Panagiotakos. “So maybe it will get them to fall in line better.”

Senate Weakens Reform In Transportation Bill, The Boston Channel, April 3, 2009
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