Factors to Consider When Determining Liability in Bus Accidents

Bus accidents can be devastating and are typically more complicated than accidents involving private cars. Factors such as whether the bus was privately or publicly owned, or whether the plaintiff was a passenger will impact how a claim is handled. The attorneys at San Diego Injury Lawyer can protect your best interests in a bus accident claim. They can help in determining liability in bus accidents, and make the strongest case possible to maximize your compensation. For more than 30 years, accident victims have been trusting our San Diego, CA, practice to successfully represent their bus accident claims.

Bus Driver Standards of Care

The laws determining liability in an accident involving a bus differ from those governing car accidents. Bus operators fall into the category of common carriers. They are required by law to adhere to the “utmost duty of care” in protecting the safety of their passengers. This duty represents a higher standard than drivers of other vehicles. If a bus driver fails to meet this standard, they are deemed negligent, and thus liable for the accident.

The bus company that employs a driver is responsible for ensuring that the their driver is compliant with all safety protocols and operates the vehicle in keeping with the standards of care. As such, an injured victim can hold the driver and the company employing the driver liable for damages after an accident has occurred.

Maintenance & Equipment

While most bus accidents are the due to driver error, either on the part of the bus driver or the driver of another vehicle, inadequate maintenance and faulty equipment can also play a role in accidents. Bus operators are expected to keep their vehicles in good working order, and log routine maintenance and service for equipment problems. As such, the injured party may hold the bus company accountable for insufficient maintenance and service, if it contributed to the accident. Victims can also hold bus manufacturers liable in cases of equipment failures related to manufacturing.

Two Key Factors Affecting Liability

How a case is handled, and how liability is determined in a bus accident will depend on a couple of key factors:

If the Plaintiff Is a Passenger on the Bus

Since the bus driver and company have a greater responsibility to their passengers, it is easier to prove driver and company liability if you are a bus passenger than if you are involved in the accident as a pedestrian or passenger of another vehicle.

Given that bus accident cases are more complex than car accidents, it is essential that you have strong legal counsel on your side.

If the Bus Is Owned by a Public Entity or Private Company

A bus owned and operated by a public entity will be subject to government liability limitations. The most significant of these limitations is that the statute of limitations is shorter than in private entity cases. A claim must be filed against the bus company or public entity within six months of the date of the accident.

Additionally, a settlement or verdict in excess of $500,000 may be paid out over time, rather than in a lump sum, as in private entity cases. Finally, the plaintiff is not entitled to punitive damages, or damages intended to punish the defendant.

Examples of public buses would include school buses, which are the school district’s responsibility, and city buses, which fall under the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) or the North County Transit District (NCTD).

Receiving Legal Assistance

Given that bus accident cases are more complex than car accidents, it is essential that you have strong legal counsel on your side. Contact our offices today for your no-obligation case review. You can call us at (619) 272-4028, or leave us a message using our online form.