Although there’s no such thing as a straightforward or “easy” motor vehicle accident, bus crashes are often far more complicated than the typical road collision. This is because most buses and their drivers are under contract with a major commercial or public entity, and because of their sheer size and seating capacity, they are also regulated through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Because of this complexity, it’s crucial that you secure the right lawyer when you’ve been involved in a bus accident case. From understanding how liability falls to representing your interests against powerful organizations, our Toledo accident lawyers at Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A. can help you seek the maximum compensation appropriate for your injuries. We can also help you understand why these cases are so complex, and guide you through the legal process.
What Makes Bus Accidents So Complex?
Unlike other motor vehicles, buses must meet dozens of unique traffic regulations, safety standards, and training requirements in order to safely transport many people at once. This can make it harder to determine who exactly was responsible for an accident, and whether or not they were negligent in their duties to the bus passengers. Depending on the bus carrier type, the “duty of care” owed to you by the bus service can also vary dramatically. If you were riding a municipal or interstate bus at the time of your accident, they will be held to a much higher care standard, because they are considered a “common carrier” that admits everyone. Contracted transportation methods, such as a privately chartered tour bus, are only held to the legal standard of “ordinary, reasonable care under the circumstances.” Here are the main carrier types and the challenges they can pose for your claim:
- Private interstate carriers: Interstate bus companies like Greyhound are required to provide higher levels of insurance coverage, to account for both the size of their vehicles and the higher “duty of care” standard. Unfortunately, because some of these companies can operate in multiple states at once, there could be third parties or even shell corporations involved, making it hard to track down the liable party.
- Private charter and tour bus carriers: Whether you’re on the infamous “duck boat” or taking a specially chartered limousine in Las Vegas, these private intrastate carriers will most likely be held to the lower duty of care standard, or “reasonable care under the circumstances.” Depending on how many people can be seated, however, the carrier’s insurance coverage may not be enough to adequately cover everyone present, posing unique legal challenges.
- Government or public carriers: Public bus carriers are all treated differently under the law. School buses are often considered to be “private” carriers, and must only observe the reasonable care standard. On the other end of the spectrum, a city bus is considered a common carrier. This additional layer of complexity makes it imperative to hire an experienced lawyer.
Who Is Liable for a Bus Accident?
Due to the extraordinary variety of buses and public transportation vehicles, identifying the right defendant can be no small feat in and of itself. Whether negligence began with the individual driver, a tour company, a private contractor, or even a municipal agency, your attorney will have to dig deep into all the details of the case, and thoroughly understand how the carrier company operates. On top of that, there may be federal agency involvement, particularly if the bus accident attracts significant news attention. At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we can help you seek the maximum compensation for your bus crash injuries. Nationally recognized and selected to Best Lawyers® and Super Lawyers® many times over, our team has become known for handling even the most difficult accident cases with skill, compassion, and clarity. If you’re interested in learning more about our legal services, call (419) 318-0772 today.