Bus drivers, like all drivers on the road, are legally required to drive safely and look out for other motorists. However, drivers of public transportation are held to higher standards, and personal injury cases that involve public transportation must follow a different path. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are injured on a bus:
- ‘Common Carrier’ Law: People or businesses that provide public transportation are generally subject to “common carrier” laws. Common carriers may include public buses, trains, subways, trolleys, and taxis—typically any person or business who provides transportation for a fee. Under common carrier law, drivers of these public transportation vehicles are held to a higher standard than the average driver. However, it is important to remember that these higher standards do not negate the concept of negligence; you still must prove that the driver was negligent in some way to recover for your injuries.
- Public vs. Private Buses: Figuring out how to file your lawsuit will depend on if the bus is privately or publicly owned. A privately owned bus, such as a school bus, would result in a lawsuit against the private entity itself (in this case, the school district). A public bus, such as a city bus, would result in a lawsuit against the city or municipality involved.
- Claims Against the Government: Lawsuits against the government involve special time limits and rules. You must give formal notice of your personal injury claim within 90 days of the accident. After giving your initial notice, you must wait six months to file a lawsuit against the government agency. During this waiting period, the government agency will most likely reach out to you and try to resolve your claim.
- Liability Beyond the Driver: The bus driver may not be the only one liable for your injuries. The owner of the bus company, the agency responsible for maintaining and operating the bus, or the bus manufacturer could all be liable, depending on the cause of the injuries. If your injuries were caused by some sort of mechanical failure, such as faulty brakes, the bus manufacturer could be liable for defective manufacturing. Rather, if your injuries were caused by some sort of maintenance problem, such as rust buildup within the bus mechanisms, liability could rest with the party responsible for maintaining the bus.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you could be entitled to compensation for:
- Current and future medical treatment, including hospitalization costs, ongoing treatment expenses, rehabilitation costs, and any expected future medical expenses
- Lost wages, including compensation for wages lost while out of work due to the accident, as well as decreased earning capacity in the future
- Property damage, including compensation for damage to your clothing or personal effects as a result of the accident
- Loss of enjoyment of life, including loss of enjoyment of day-to-day activities, recreations, hobbies, and exercise
- Pain and suffering, which is the physical and emotional pain caused by the accident, including the pain of the physical injuries and ongoing emotional trauma
- Emotional distress, i.e. the psychological effects of the injury, including anxiety, sleep loss, and fear (typically awarded in severe accidents)