Although the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) is a great way to get around town, sometimes its operators are negligent. What can you do if injured by MUNI?
First off, MUNI includes buses, streetcars, underground LRVs, and the beloved cable cars.
MUNI also has responsibility for injuries occurring in its stations (such as slip and falls), including the ones it shares with BART.
The most common injury caused by MUNI is when a MUNI vehicle violates the right of way of another vehicle or pedestrian.
MUNI bus takes a right turn and runs over a pedestrian lawfully in the crosswalk. Or a MUNI bus clips a bicycle rider.
The injured person is entitled to claim tort damages for medical bills, wage loss and pain and suffering/emotional distress.
How Do You Make a Claim?
There is a required claim form entitled “CLAIM AGAINST THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO.”
This form is located on the web at https://www.sfcityattorney.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Claims-Form-02-14.pdf.
The claim form itself is fairly basic, but if your case is at all complicated or large, you should retain an attorney to prepare and file the form.
An injured person must file the claim form within six months of the injury date (see Government Code sec. 910 et seq.)
If you miss the six-month window, your claim may be barred. There is a procedure to petition to file a late claim within one year of the accident (see Govt Code sec. 911 and 945.4 et seq).
You would definitely want a lawyer to handle such a petition, as the law is complicated and the city attorney will likely oppose the motion.
If a minor (under age 18) misses the six-month deadline, the public entity (such as MUNI) must allow the filing of a late claim if it is filed within one year of the accident. [See Govt. Code 911.6(b)(2)]
CCSF has 45 days in which to accept or reject the claim– the claimant then is allowed only six months in which to file a lawsuit [See Gov.C. § 945.6(a)(1)].
Note that this deadline differs from the usual two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury suit (CCP sec. 335.1).
However, CCSF’s failure to respond to the claim within 45 days to do so waives the public entity’s defense based on untimeliness even if the claim is otherwise insufficient (unless it contained no address to which notice could be sent). [Gov.C. § 911.3(b); Phillips v. Desert Hosp. Dist. (1989) 49 C3d 699, 706, 263 CR 119, 123]
In smaller cases, or particularly egregious larger cases, CCSF will sometimes attempt to settle with the claimant.
But usually, CCSF denies the claim. Once that happens, the injured person can file a lawsuit against CCSF for damages.
Contact The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart Today
If you are presented with a serious injury case from the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI), contact The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart.
Please call us at (415) 577-4992 or use our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney Chuck Geerhart.