Simply because a passenger on a bus, train or trolley is injured by a sudden stop does not mean the operator of the vehicle is legally responsible. In Staller v. Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co., 339 Pa. 100, 103 (1940), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated that for an injured passenger to recover in a jerk and jolt case, the movement of the vehicle has to be so unusual and extraordinary as to be beyond the reasonable anticipation of the passengers.
What evidence constitutes movement that is unusual or extraordinary? This generally involves showing that the sudden stop or movement had a disturbing effect upon other passengers. See Smith v. Pittsburgh R. Co., 405 Pa. 340 (1961). The greater the number of passengers that fall or are injured, the more likely the sudden movement was extraordinary and unexpected.
Helpful evidence in jerk and jolt cases
SEPTA has installed cameras on many of its buses and trolleys. This may provide video evidence of a jerk and jolt accident and footage of how many people were affected by a sudden stop or movement. In the absence of video footage, it is important to report any accident while you are still on a bus or trolley, get names of any witnesses or other people affected by the sudden stop, and contact an attorney immediately to see whether you have a potential jerk and jolt case.
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