AWARDS: $2,350,000 award to automobile accident wrongful death plaintiffs • jury acquittal – double criminal homicide • $1,000,000 award to motorcycle accident wrongful death plaintiffs • jury acquittal – criminal homicide • $465,000 award to medical malpractice plaintiff • jury acquittal – criminal homicide, recklessly endangering another person, neglect of a care dependent person • $325,000 federal jury verdict, UIM and insurance bad faith award to automobile accident plaintiffs • jury acquittal – attempted criminal homicide • $300,000 award to medical malpractice plaintiff • jury acquittal- attempted criminal homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon • $300,000 award to automobile accident/ products liability plaintiffs • jury acquittal – homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle DUI, aggravate assault by vehicle • $115,000 award to truck accident plaintiff • jury acquittal – murder, rape • $100,000 non-jury trial verdict to facial laceration plaintiff • jury acquittal – 1st degree Murder (capital case) • $90,000 award to premises liability/slip-and-fall plaintiff • jury acquittal – DUI, terroristic threats, carrying firearms without a license • $440,000 award to civil rights violation plaintiff • jury acquittal – theft, receiving stolen property • $135,000 award to civil rights violation plaintiff • jury acquittal – possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (PWI) • $636,000 jury verdict in plaintiffs’ medical malpractice case • jury acquittal – indecent assault, indecent exposure • $550,000 award in plaintiffs’ personal injury case • juvenile case acquittal- solicitation to commit aggravated assault, aggravated assault of unborn child • $250,000 award to mass transit accident plaintiff • jury acquittal – theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy • $130,000 award to premises liability/slip-and-fall plaintiffs • court-appointed appellate counsel – Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversal of rape conviction • $465,000 award to automobile accident plaintiff • jury acquittal – aggravated assault • $125,000 award to automobile accident plaintiff • jury acquittal – DUI • non-jury acquittal – dismissal of armed robbery charges • $170,000 award to automobile accident plaintiffs • successful jury verdict in defense of attorney charged with legal malpractice in professional liability case • $140,000 award to injured bicyclist plaintiff • non-jury acquittal – dismissal of 2 counts of criminal homicide • $180,000 award to employment discrimination plaintiff • jury acquittal – indecent exposure • non-jury custody trial – award of primary physical and legal custody of minor to paternal grandparents over natural mother • juvenile decertification petition granted to criminal homicide charges – release at age 21 • non-jury custody trial – award of primary physical and legal custody of minor to father • jury acquittal – DUI • $90,000 award to automobile accident plaintiffs • non-jury custody trial – award of primary physical and legal custody of minor to mother • $50,000 jury verdict for plaintiff- passenger in automobile accident case • non-jury custody trial – award of primary physical and legal custody of minor to father • hung jury – Arson trial (no criminal punishment imposed) • $265,000 award to premises liability plaintiff • jury acquittal – delivery of a controlled substance • $125,000 award to premises liability plaintiff • jury acquittal – DUI • $190,000 award to products liability plaintiff • $150,000 award to premises liability/construction accident plaintiff • $750,000 award to prison medical malpractice and civil rights violation plaintiff • $90,000 award to automobile accident plaintiffs • $108,500 award to automobile accident plaintiff • $80,000 award to automobile accident plaintiff • $150,000 award to truck accident plaintiffs.
Charles Law is Endorsed by the Better Business Bureau
Charles Law is Rated AV Preeminent


Personal Injury

Mass Transit Accidents: Planes, Trains, Boats, Cabs and More

Pennsylvania Mass Transit Accident Attorneys

“Mass transit” refers to a system of transportation  — planes, trains, streetcars, subways, buses, boats, ferries, taxis and more — that is used to transport large numbers of people across municipal or regional areas. Mass transit systems offer many advantages when operated properly, such as enabling large numbers of people to travel in the same travel passageway with higher efficiency than private transportation, and with potential savings in fuel, money and time.  Unfortunately, when mass transit systems are improperly operated, maintained or supervised, the results can be catastrophic, causing large numbers of people to suffer death, serious and permanent physical, psychological and emotional injuries, severe financial loss, and property damage.

Statistics Concerning Mass Transit Accidents

The United States Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in 2013, there were:

1297 total air transportation accidents involving U.S. air carriers, commuter carriers, on-demand air taxis, and general aviation;

5,811,000 total highway crashes involving passenger cars, buses, motorcycles, light trucks, and large trucks;

10,031 total railroad accidents involving highway- rail grade crossings and transit, including Amtrak, accidents and incidents resulting from freight and passenger rail operations including commuter rail, and all reportable incidents for heavy rail, light rail, and automated guideway;

9,789 total waterborne accidents involving vessel-related and recreational boating activities;

610 total pipeline accidents involving hazardous liquid pipeline and gas pipeline.

Trust the trial attorneys with preeminent and distinguished legal reputations with your mass transit accident case.

Attorneys Fredrick E Charles and Dennis G Charles possess preeminent and distinguished legal reputations as highly skilled, experienced and accomplished trial attorneys. The attorneys at Charles Law Offices are thorough, meticulous, and masterful in their pretrial investigation, preparation, and strategy; pleading and motion practice; direct and cross-examination of expert and lay witnesses; oral argument; presentation and rebuttal of relevant scientific, medical, and other forensic evidence; review and application of relevant state and federal laws and regulations; preservation of the record for possible appellate review; and use of advanced legal skills and cutting edge persuasion techniques required to win your mass transit accident case and get you the financial compensation you deserve.

Common Carriers for Hire Owe Passengers the Highest Degree of Care and the “Strictest Vigilance” in Maintaining a Safe Premises and Safe Passage.

The modes of transportation used in our mass transit systems — planes, trains, streetcars, subways, buses, taxis, boats, ferries, etc.  —  are what is known as “common carriers.” Our federal and state courts have held that a common carrier owes its passengers the highest degree of care and diligence and the “strictest vigilance” (a) in carrying them to their destination; (b) in setting them down at the terminus of their journey; (c) in enabling them to alight safely; and (d) in maintaining a safe premises. Source: Lebanon Coach Co. v. Carolina Casualty Insurance Co.,  450 Pa. Super. 1 (1996); Cestaric v. Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc., 139 F.2d 566 (3d Cir. 1943).

In  Calhoon v. Pittsburgh Coal Co., 128 Pa. Super 582 (1937) the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that the common carrier’s duty of care extends to all of the common carrier’s premises from the time a passenger leaves the public highway and enters the premises occupied by a carrier, until he leaves the carrier’s premises for the public highway. The carrier is bound to provide safe means of passage between the public highway and the carrier’s means of transportation. This duty of care and rule of law applies to ferries, railroads, street railways, taxicabs, buses and airplanes. Toombs v. Manning, 835 F.2d. 453 (3d Cir. 1987). Under Pennsylvania law, a common carrier’s duty of exercising the highest degree of care is violated by negligence per se arising from violation of a government safety regulation.

Proving that a common carrier is legally responsible for the injured party’s harm may be complicated.

Common Carriers are NOT Insurers of their Passengers’ Safety.

Despite this duty of care owed to passengers by  mass transit common carriers, our courts have held that common carriers are not insurers of their passengers’ safety. In order to recover money damages for injuries arising from the relationship with a defendant common carrier,  passengers-plaintiffs still must demonstrate that the injuries are attributable to the common carrier’s negligence. Allen v. American Airlines, Inc., 301 F.Supp.2d 370 (E.D. Pa. 2003).

What is the standard of care which a possessor of land owes to an entrant?

The standard of care which a possessor of land (i.e., the common carrier)  owes to an entrant upon the land depends upon whether the entrant is a trespasser, licensee or business invitee. When no contract for carriage exists between the common carrier and the injured party, the duty of care owed by the common carrier is the same as that owed to a business visitor — namely, the duty of the common carrier rises no higher than to correct any natural or artificial unsafe condition involving an unreasonable risk of harm discoverable by the exercise of reasonable care and diligence. Lanni v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 88 A.2d 887 (Pa. 1952). Further, the legal duty of a common carrier to a “trespasser” is even less than that owed to a business visitor or invitee — the common carrier’s legal obligation to trespassers is the avoidance of willful or wanton misconduct, Geelen v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., 161 A.2d 595 (Pa. 1960).

Federal Statutes and Treaties May Preempt State Law

Federal statutes and treaties for air, maritime and rail transport may alter the standard of care,  the damages recoverable, and the statute of limitations involved in mass transit accidents. These federal statutes and treaties preempt state law when applicable.


The Federal Aviation Act  of 1958 (“FAA”) “establishes the applicable standards of care in the field of air safety, generally, thus preempting the entire field from state and territorial regulation.” Abdullah v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 181 F.3d 363, 367 (3d Cir.1999). A Plaintiff must base his negligence claim upon a federal standard of care, as prescribed within the FAA.   14 C.F.R. § 91.13(a) provides, “No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”  [I]n determining the standards of care in an aviation negligence action, a court must refer not only to specific regulations but also to the overall concept that aircraft may not be operated in a careless or reckless manner.  In addition to FAA regulations,  specific federal legislation and treaties may be applicable and affect an injured party’s right of recourse and/or damages recoverable against the defendant in an aviation accident.  Some examples of such federal legislation and treaties are the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 (GARA),  49 U.S.C. §40101; the Warsaw Convention, 49 U.S.C. §40105; the Montreal Convention of 1999 (effective 2003); the Death On The High Seas Act (DOHSA), 46 U.S.C. §761-767; the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Chapter 171 (FTCA/governmental liability issues); and  the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C.§§1602-1611.

Did you know? Attorney Dennis G. Charles of Charles Law Offices is a licensed private pilot and instrument-trained aviator. Attorney Charles is knowledgeable and proficient in  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, rules  and procedures for General Aviation, sport pilots and instructors appearing in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). He is an aircraft owner and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association (MAPA).


In any mass transit accident involving a bus, investigation is critical. Although a bus accident may appear to be simple on its face, in reality it may raise multiple components or issues which need investigation including, without limitation:

Products Liability ( issues of Crash Worthiness; brakes, axle, lighting, seatbelts)

Premises Liability (roadway conditions, road obstruction from trees, traffic control design)

Driver Impairment or Fatigue

Inadequate Training or Supervision

CDL Licensing Issues

Connected vehicle technology

State or Municipality Liability (governmental immunity)

Bus Maintenance Issues

Medical conditions

Commercial driver’s license medical examinations

Bus Driver Speed

Alcohol or controlled substance usage

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – an independent federal agency dedicated to promoting aviation, railroad, highway, marine and pipeline safety – investigates school bus cases and other bus cases involving catastrophic injuries. The NTSB report, however, is NOT admissible evidence in a civil action for damages as a result of the Independent Safety Board Act, 49 U.S.C. §1154(b).


Federal preemption of state laws is a prominent issue in railroad litigation. Often times, the courts find that state law claims applying federal standards are not preempted.  For example, the Locomotive Inspect Act (LIA), 49 U.S.C. §20701, mandates that locomotives and their parts to be kept “in proper condition and safe to operate without unnecessary danger of personal injury.”  The Third Circuit has recently ruled that the Locomotive Inspect Act (LIA) does not preempt a railroad’s state law claims where federal standards of care apply.  In contrast, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Locomotive Inspect Act (LIA) occupies the field of locomotive design and construction and therefore preempts state law. Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp.132 S.Ct.  1261 (2012).  Another federal statute that is a source of preemption issues — particularly in the areas of accident litigation, safety regulation cases,  and water damage litigation —  is the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. §20101, which was enacted “to promote safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents.”

Did you know? In 2005, in a case argued before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals involving a mass transit train crash fatality, Charles Law Offices successfully persuaded the Court that crashes caused by obstructed site lines should be exempted from the Federal preemption mandates and, in so doing, established legal precedent in the Third Circuit that subsequently was followed in other circuits of the federal court system throughout the United States.

Some issues arising in railroad litigation

Some issues involving the defendant railroad’s duties  arise in the context of:

Known dangerous conditions on the land

Suppliers of electricity

Public railroad crossings

Permissive crossings (i.e., a defined foot path which is habitually used, leading to and crossing over railroad tracks)

Longitudinal permissive ways

Traveler’s obligations to “stop, look and listen” before and while crossing a railroad track

Artificial conditions on the land(eg., high voltage electrical transmission lines)


Signage and duty to warn

Fencing of railroad right-of-way

Patrol of stationary cars

Timing of application of brakes

Timing of sounding of train’s horn when person on tracks, near tracks or approaching tracks

Expert Testimony Usually is Needed to Prove Negligence in Mass Transit Accidents

Mass transit accident cases typically involve scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge beyond that possessed by a layperson. Therefore, the court usually requires expert testimony to establish the duty and standard of care required of the common carrier, and how the common carrier’s departure from that duty and standard of care caused the victim’s injuries and damages.

Rule 702 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence defines an “expert” as “a witness qualified… by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education” and permits such individual to testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise. The attorneys at Charles Law Offices use some of the nation’s finest experts in the fields of aviation and aeronautics, science and engineering, accident reconstruction, medicine, physics, bio-mechanics, pharmacology, toxicology, psychiatry, psychology, and other forensic disciplines in successfully representing injured plaintiffs in personal injury and mass transit accident  litigation.

Trying to face a multi-million dollar common carrier’s team of lawyers, investigators and experts without your own lawyer is a mistake. That’s why it’s crucial that you retain experienced, skillful trial attorneys to help you . . . like the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.

With nearly  40 years of trial experience, legal training and success in handling all types of personal injury lawsuits, Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles are second to none when it comes to guarding your legal rights and winning the money damages you deserve. Our record of big trial victories, large verdicts,  and out-of-court settlements  speaks for itself.  We know how to stand up to large  common carriers and large  corporations  to get you the  compensation that you are legally entitled to for the harm you have suffered.

Contact us for a free legal consultation at 1-610-437-7064  or simply fill out  the form appearing in the top right corner of this page. There’s no fee when you call and no obligation to use our services. We’re here 24/7 to get you the legal help you require!


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.

Involved in a mass transit accident?

An Impressive Track Record

Of big wins
  • Personal Injury Lawyers
  • Allentown Lawyers

What Our Clients Are Saying

About us

After being turned away and told by two other medical malpractice law firms that my case was “unwinnable,” I contacted Charles Law Offices. Both Attorneys are excellent, hard-working trial attorneys who are extremely knowledgeable and highly ethical. They produced an outstanding and favorable outcome for me.

Catherine R. Van Langen | Retired Radiological (ASRT) and Nuclear Medical Technologist

Contact us now

For a free consultation

    I am:

    I am looking for information regarding*:

    If other, please specify:

    How did you hear about us?

    A Family History of Devotion to
    Law and Public Service

    The Charles Brothers’ devotion to the law is derived from a family history in the legal system and of service to others. Their father, Charles “Chink” Charles (depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph) held a 35 year career in law enforcement, and was selected to serve as the personal bodyguard for former United States Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson during their campaign visits to Allentown.

    Learn More