Am I liable if someone tripped on my baggage in a public subway?

by Anonymous
(Boston, MA)

A while ago I was riding the subway. After boarding the subway, I found a seat and sat there. Then I settled my baggage to the left side of my seat, jutting a little into the aisle. There are no baggage storage areas on the subway, nor is there any space under the seats to slide a bag under. The subway did not make any announcements such as "clear the aisle' or anything of such sort.

After me there were other passengers boarding the subway as well, it was moderately crowded, and one of then was an upper middle aged woman of around 65. While walking down the aisle she tripped and fell. Although I am not entirely sure, I believe that she mostly likely tripped over my baggage.

Immediately, there were other passengers making sure that she was fine, and she was eventually given a seat. I did not play an active role in making sure that she was fine because I was unsure of what happened, however I did monitor her condition and concluded that she was probably not badly injured as she soon started speaking with her companion.

In this circumstance, am I or my parents (I'm under 18 years old) liable legally for her injuries, if any? If I am not legally liable, are there any other ways this incident will have a negative impact on me? Also, if I am not liable, then is it possible for the woman to sue the public transit system? I'm curious about the liability in this scenario. Thank you for any information you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Am I liable if someone tripped on my baggage in a public subway?":

Anonymous (Boston, MA):

In many cases, parents may be held responsible for the acts and omissions of their children when those acts result in injuries to others. In this case, without proof your baggage caused the accident, and with the absence of apparent injuries, you and your parents likely have no liability.

For the woman to succeed in a personal injury claim against you would require her to meet a burden of proof. The woman would have to show:

- You acted negligently
- Your negligence was the direct and proximate cause of her fall
- As a result of that fall, the woman sustained injuries

It doesn't appear anyone questioned you about the incident, nor did anyone accuse you of being responsible for the woman’s fall. No one knows who you are, or where you live or work, nor does anyone related to the incident know your parents’ names or addresses.

In the event the woman was injured, she may have an injury claim against the transit system. However, to be liable, the woman would have to show the transit system was negligent.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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