Unfortunately, bus accidents are a fairly common occurrence, and they often involve serious injuries. Because of the difficulty maneuvering such a large, heavy vehicle and sometimes because of the inexperience of the driver, bus accidents happen with some frequency. The seating arrangements and lack of seatbelts can also contribute to severe injuries being suffered by bus passengers.
Bus companies and public entities operating bus lines are known in the law as “common carriers”. When they assume the business of transporting the general public, they vow to carry them with vigilance and safety. Such carriers are responsible for any, even the slightest, negligence and are required to do all that is humanly possible to keep their passengers protected under all circumstances.
Moreover, if a carrier voluntarily accepts an ill or disabled person as a passenger, it must exercise as much care as is reasonably necessary to ensure their safety, in view of his mental and physical condition. “Full and equal access” is defined as access that complies with the regulations developed under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. When there is a violation of these rules and an accident results, the injured passengers have the right to be compensated for their injuries and damages.
Even when an emergency situation arises, through no fault of the driver, the bus operator’s failure to safely deal with that emergency will give rise to liability. For example, if a bus traveling at freeway speeds encounters an object in the roadway causing a tire to blow, the bus driver’s failure to maneuver the vehicle to a safe stop is negligence. In that situation the driver has an obligation to brake and pull the vehicle safely out of the travel lanes. If the driver instead continues to depress the accelerator, in an effort to reach the next off ramp, causing the bus to strike a retaining wall or some other stationary object, the injuries to the unrestrained passengers will be the responsibility of the bus company.
The duties and responsibility owed to passengers aboard a bus equally apply to those attempting to board the bus. By way of example, a nearly 50 year-old woman living in the greater Los Angeles area used the Metro Line bus system for her daily travel to and from work. After work, she walked to the bus stop located just a short distance from her place of employment. As she attempted to board the bus, the bus driver suddenly closed the door, knocking the victim to the ground and pulling her into harms way. The would-be bus passenger ended up being crushed by the rear wheels.
Every bus accident case is unique and the potential causes of harm almost endless. An experienced trial attorney can help you find your way through the facts and the law to reach a fair result.
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