Who is Liable for a Public Bus Accident?
Public buses are used by thousands of people every day to commute for work, travel to meet friends, and get around their city. With so many buses in use, it isn’t surprising when accidents occur. If you’ve been injured on a public bus, however, you may be surprised at the challenges you’ll face to get the compensation you deserve. The first step in an accident claim is to determine who may be liable for your injuries. Here are some factors that may affect the liability in your claim.
A Third Party Caused the Accident
A bus driver slows for the yellow light, coming to a stop, when suddenly, the car behind the bus fails to stop and rear-ends the bus. Because the bus driver was appropriately following traffic signals and the car driver was not, the auto driver is found to be at fault. The passengers who sustained injuries in the accident can file a third-party claim against the liable driver’s insurance policy to recover damages for their accident.
The Bus Driver is Responsible for the Accident
This is a complex situation. Buses and other forms of public transportation are generally handled under a “common carrier” law, which holds operators of public transportation to a higher standard of care to provide safe transportation for their passengers. It is the duty of the bus driver to do everything reasonably in their power to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring.
In most states, this law is only in effect while the carrier is in operation, or while the bus is in motion. While on the road, your driver should be working to protect their passengers from harm. Though they are held to a higher standard than regular drivers, there can be circumstances where they would not be held liable for your injury, since they were not negligent in their actions.
As an injured person, it is on you to prove that your bus driver was negligent. This means that you will need to show how the bus driver could have otherwise prevented your injury. If they were driving at a reasonable speed and needed to stop short to avoid a car that pulled out in front of them, it is unlikely that your driver would be found to be negligent for any injuries caused by the shirt stop. Why is this? Because the driver was operating the bus in a reasonable and safe manner beforehand and was acting to protect passengers from a collision, they were adhering to their duty of care.
Some situations that may be considered negligent can include:
- Driving while drowsy or under the influence of a substance
- Using a mobile device while driving
- Talking with passengers while driving
- Eating while driving
If you were injured, it is important to speak with an experienced transportation accident attorney. They can help you investigate whether your driver was negligent and determine if you have a course of action available to you.
Filing a Claim Involving a Public Bus
If you were injured in an accident involving a public bus, there can be some extra challenges associated with your claim. Public transportation can be run by multiple governmental agencies, you may find yourself facing state laws called State Tort Claims Acts, which outline special regulations to file injury claims against the liable agencies. The deadlines differ between states, but generally, you can count on shorter deadlines to take action. These can include:
- A short deadline to notify the public transportation entity of the circumstances of your accident. This should be done in writing, and generally will be required within six months or less from the date of your accident.
- A short deadline for filing your lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, against the public transportation entity.
Because of the strict rules involved in these types of claims, it is critical to talk with an attorney who has experience with these types of accidents. Even small mistakes can result in your claim being barred, leaving you with no way to recover damages after your accident. If you’ve been injured on a public bus, don’t wait to get legal counsel.
At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., our team is backed by more than a century of collective experience in handling injury claims, including transportation accidents. Our compassionate and skilled Toledo personal injury attorneys are ready to fight for your rights as an injured victim. Let’s discuss your case with a free consultation.
Contact our firm by calling (419) 318-0772.