According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), approximately 241 million people traveled on buses during 2011. A 2010 report found that over a six year period, from 1999 to 2005, there were 63,000 bus accidents in the United States, resulting in more than 14,000 injuries and 325 deaths.
What many people do not know is that when is comes to mass transit accidents the law looks at bus accidents differently depending on what type of bus is involved in the accident, which is why it is critical to speak to our Pennsylvania Bus Accident Attorneys after being injured or losing a loved one in a bus accident.
When someone riding a city or public transit bus is injured or killed due to the negligence of the bus driver or because the bus company fails to properly maintain the bus, the victim may be able to receive compensation from the city, the government or the driver themselves. However, there are complicated laws that come into play when a bus is owned by a city, state or federal government.
In some cases, sovereign immunity protects the government from filing claims for personal injury. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth is immune from suit, but there are exceptions to the rule. In the state, if the injury occurs during the operation of a motor vehicle that is in the possession or control of the state government, the victim may be able to sue the state for those injuries.
In New Jersey, a person may sue the state if they can prove that the injury or death occurred because property owned by the state was in dangerous condition, if an employee was negligent or if it can be proven that the state knew that the property, such as a state-owned bus, was unsafe.
Delaware’s law allows for suits against the state in cases where a motor vehicle is involved in the injury and it can be proven that there was negligence on the part of an employee or the state that led to the injury.
Buses operated by large companies such as Trailways or Greyhound are considered common carriers, very similar to how taxi cabs are regulated. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial buses and large trucks were involved in 3,802 crashes in 2012. There are no statistics regarding how many of those were only commercial bus accidents, as they are not separated by the agency for reporting purposes.
Often, when commercial buses are involved in crashes, it is due to the negligence of the driver or lack of maintenance on the bus itself.
In all states, a common carrier must use the highest level of care when transporting passengers. This means that the drivers of commercial buses are held to a higher standard than drivers of other types of vehicles on the road.
Approximately 17,000 school children are injured in school bus accidents each year. These injuries occur when a bus is involved in an accident with another vehicle, but they also occur when children are boarding or exiting the school bus at a bus stop. There have been incidences of severe injury when a driver brakes suddenly and a child falls from the seat or is thrown against the side of the bus during a sharp turn.
In addition, a negligent bus driver could be responsible for injuries to the passengers on their bus as well as others on the road.
In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, school buses are often not owned by the district where the child attends school, but by private companies who are contracted with the district to transport children. This eliminates the sovereign immunity statues in those states because the private company can be sued for injuries and deaths, especially if the bus driver is proven negligent. However, there are districts that own their own bus fleet, and they may enjoy some protection from lawsuits in the case of an injury.
Who is responsible in a bus accident varies based on what type of bus is involved, who owns the bus and the circumstances of the accident.
For example, if a child is injured in a school bus accident and the bus is owned by a private company, the company can be held responsible for the actions of their driver. Even if a bus is owned by a city or state government, they may not be protected by sovereign immunity if negligence can be proven on the part of the driver or the governmental agency who may not have maintained their buses properly. The only way to know for sure who can be held responsible for bus accident injuries is to contact our Bus Accident Attorneys to learn what your next steps should be.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, or if a loved one has died of injuries sustained after a bus accident, contact Lundy Law today to learn what rights you may have. Complete the simple query form to arrange for your initial consultation to learn if you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim.