If you’re injured in an accident involving a municipal owned and operated bus, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the municipality. However, claims involving government agencies are handled somewhat differently than ordinary auto accidents. Some of those differences can be pivotal in whether or not a claimant is successful at recovering their accident costs.
The Standard of Care
Nearly all personal injury cases against municipally owned bus companies are based on the law of negligence. Along with other elements, it must be shown that the government entity, bus driver, third-party maintenance company, or another party failed to use proper care to avoid a foreseeable risk of harm to the injured claimant. It’s not unusual for bus accident cases to involve more than one defendant or accused parties. This is one of several reasons why bus accident victims can benefit from working with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with complex cases.
Common Carrier Law
A common carrier is a person or entity such as a municipal bus company that provides transportation services to the public.
- In some states, a common carrier owes a higher duty of care to its passengers than an ordinary person would owe to a passenger in their car.
- In other states, a duty of ordinary care exists. In either case, negligence must be proven.
- It’s unlikely that a municipal bus company or authority would be held liable for injuries suffered in a passenger’s fall if the driver swerved to avoid a child darting out into traffic.
- In a high duty of care state, it’s possible that the transit company would be held liable for a passenger’s injuries if its driver crashed into the rear of a stopped car while conversing with a passenger. The supposition would be that the driver didn’t give the roadway 100 percent of his attention.
Tort Claims Acts
Since municipal transportation companies are owned by government entities or agencies, special state laws usually apply to them. These laws are sometimes referred to as sovereign immunity, or state tort claims acts. Expect short deadlines for claims and lawsuits against municipal bus companies, though they differ from state to state. They usually include claim notice deadlines for notifying the municipal transportation company of the facts and circumstances surrounding an accident. A personal injury lawyer can assist you with this process. Failure to properly complete or file the claim notice can result in dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit against a municipal bus company.
If a person files a proper and timely claim notice and lawsuit, he or she is still likely to face a damages cap, no matter how serious his or her injuries might be. Damages caps are set by statute, and they can be as low as $100,000. What a cap might be depends on the state in which the accident occurred.
Passengers injured in bus accidents, and the families of those who perished in them, might be eligible for damages to compensate them for their accident-related losses. Remember that the applicable time periods for seeking compensation are usually short. Contact a personal injury lawyer such as the Truck Accident Lawyer MD locals trust, as quickly as possible after suffering an injury or losing a family member in a bus accident.
A special thanks to our Author at Fred Brynn Law for their insight into Personal Injury.