Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

Can gas and fumes on public transit cause personal injury?

When taking public transit, you have an expectation of reasonable safety assured to you by California public transit laws. You expect that the vehicle's operator will drive in a safe manner, that the vehicle itself is in sound condition and that all due action has been taken to ensure the safety of all passengers. Yet while riding a public transit bus, you find yourself inhaling odorous fumes that seem to be coming from the bus itself. Those fumes leave you dizzy, and worried about the effect on your brain from oxygen deprivation. Do you have a case for personal injury?

You may. A bill introduced in California legislature details, among other things, that it was already legally required for the cab of a vehicle to be reasonably sealed against any fumes, oils or other noxious substances. The bill also made it clear that the floors of vehicles must also be free of holes and sealed against intrusion of fumes and other substances. This provides greater coverage under the law for vehicles such as buses, shuttles, and trains, which may not have a separate cab area.

Considering that it is the local government's mandate to maintain all public transit vehicles in safe operating order, the intrusion of fumes may qualify as a personal injury. Many fumes leaked from vehicles, particularly malfunctioning ones, can cause adverse physical reactions ranging from headaches to nausea, sometimes with long-lasting effects. Failure to prevent this can be considered negligence.

This has been an informational blog post and should not be used as a substitute for valid legal advice.

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