Almost everyone has ridden on a bus at some point, right? A school bus. A city bus. That little shuttle bus that goes from the airport to the parking lot.
Buses are everywhere, especially in big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s almost impossible to avoid them! As a passenger, you just climb on board and cross your fingers that you have a good bus driver.
Buses are generally considered a safe form of transportation, but riding on a bus brings a risk of injury and death that’s often higher than riding in a car. Bus passengers are vulnerable to powerful crash forces that can fling their bodies from their seats, smashing them into hard surfaces and loose objects.
School buses, city buses, rental buses, and double-decker buses often have a higher risk of injury than ordinary vehicles depending on the type of accident. Here are some important things you should know about California bus accidents.
After an Accident, Talk to the Bus Driver and Bus Owner
A bus accident creates a confusing situation where you’ll have to get information from the bus driver, and you’ll need to track down who owns the bus and their insurance company.
Is it a city bus? A private bus? Did someone rent it for the day?
As an example, consider a privately-owned tour bus that’s taking you on a sightseeing drive to California landmarks. If an accident happens along the way and you’re injured, the bus driver should provide you with their information, plus contact information for their employer.
The same goes for most other types of privately-run bus companies, like the buses people rent for bachelorette parties and other celebrations. Get the driver’s info, but don’t stop there. Get their employer’s contact info too.
From there, the bus company can help you understand whether they own or lease the bus and which company provides their insurance. Their insurance company should cover an incident where you were injured, but you may have to put some pressure on them to pay up. You’ll need a good traffic accident attorney to show them you’re serious.
What if your accident happened on a school bus or a city bus? Maybe you were just taking your daily commute to work on a San Francisco Muni bus or a BART bus.
Start by contacting the government organization that’s responsible for the bus line, which could be a school system or municipal transport authority. This means you’ll be filing a claim against the government, which activates a shorter deadline and other special rules for your claim.
If they deny your claim, don’t lose hope. You still have another option, which is filing a lawsuit with the help of a personal injury attorney to demand that the government covers the costs of your damages.
Reasonable Care and California’s Common Carrier Rule
Here in California, we have a law that holds bus drivers to a high standard of care for the passengers they transport. This is one way a bus claim differs from a regular personal injury claim. Bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care than the average person.
A bus driver should drive safely, avoid accidents, and deliver their passengers to their destinations unharmed. If you’re questioning whether the bus driver exhibited enough care in your accident, talk to your lawyer and review this definition from the California Code:
“Common carriers must carry passengers safely. Common carriers must use the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person. They must do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers. While a common carrier does not guarantee the safety of its passengers, it must use reasonable skill to provide everything necessary for safe transportation, in view of the transportation used and the practical operation of the business.”
Take Action Before It’s Too Late
Here’s one of the most important things to keep in mind about a bus accident: The clock is ticking! You only have a limited time to file a claim that could cover your medical bills and other costs.
Government claims have a short statute of limitations — just six months — compared to other bus accident cases, which usually have a deadline of two years. Don’t miss this short window of time to start a bus accident claim, or you could lose your chance forever.
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim so You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including bus accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.