Bus Accident Lawsuits

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As common carriers, private bus operators are subject to a higher standard of care than is imposed on other types of businesses.  This is especially true if there is a bus accident resulting in injuries.

While everyone has a duty to everyone else to exercise at least “reasonable care” to avoid causing injury, courts have described the duty of bus operators as “heightened care,” “utmost care,” and “highest practical care.” While all of these concepts defy strict definition, the different language used for bus drivers shows that they have to exercise extraordinary care to avoid causing injuries to their passengers and others.

So, if the driver or owner of a bus fails to exercise that high standard of care, gets into a bus accident and causes an injury, the person injured should be able to sue and receive significant compensation. Such compensation will usually include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the conduct of the bus driver was particularly reckless, anyone who is injured may also be able to recover what is known as “punitive damages.” These damages are not connected with a particular injury, but are meant to set an example and discourage similar conduct in the future, and depending on the type of injury, and the level of recklessness, can be quite high.

If the bus is owned and run by a government agency, the issue is a bit more complicated. Governments are protected from civil lawsuits by an old legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity.” This basically means that a government entity cannot be sued without the consent of the government itself. Most state governments have passed laws which allow their agencies to be sued for bus accidents caused by the driver’s negligence. However, those laws usually put a cap on the damages that an injured party can recover.

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Last Modified: 02-22-2012 03:53 PM PST

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