Bus accidents are included in the category of common carrier service. As common carriers, bus operators are subject to a higher standard of care than is imposed on other types of businesses. This is especially true if there are injuries resulting from a bus accident.
Since bus drivers are entrusted of more lives while driving, they must get a special driving license called Commercial Driving License (CDL). This means that their driving is part of their business. These specifications reflect how important their driving is for people's safety and their high level of liability in case they breach their duty of care.
When Are Bus Drivers Liable for Injury?
While everyone has a duty to everyone else to exercise at least "reasonable care" to avoid causing injury, courts have raised this to a higher standard for bus drivers. Instead of reasonable care, bus drivers must exercise "heightened care," "utmost care," or "highest practical care."
If the bus driver’s actions fall below this standard, then they may be held liable for injuries.
There are different factors that the court consider in order to determine if a bus driver was negligent, if he did not exercise the required level of care, or if he was not responsibly at all for the accident. Causation of the accident is one of the factors to determine the bus driver responsibility. If the injuries of an individual were caused "but for" the negligence or breach of the duty of care of the bus driver, he is liable to pay damages and compensation to the victim. Proximity cause is another factor to consider. These elements are part of tort law.
When Should I Sue a Bus Driver or Common Carrier Service?
If the driver or owner of a bus fails to exercise the property level of care and injuries result, the person injured should be able to sue and receive significant compensation.
Compensation for injuries 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.
What If the Bus Was Run by a Government Agency?
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.
Who Is Liable If I’m Injured When Getting off the Bus?
If an individual get injured by a car after he or she descends from the bus, the bus driver might not be liable for this injury. The bus driver is liable only for situations under their scope of responsibility.
Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury attorney can assist you if you got injured in a bus accident. They can review your case to find out the bus driver’s responsibility of your injury. If the bus driver is liable, then your attorney will help you receive compensation for your injuries.