I’ve Been in a Bus Accident in California. Now What?
Bus accidents involve a unique set of circumstances and considerations, especially when pursuing personal injury damages as an injured party.
In California, both private and public busses are classified as “common carriers.” This means that bus drivers and bussing companies are held to a higher standard of care than the average driver, as they “must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.” (California Civil Code 2100)
Who do I sue for bus accident damages?
If a person is injured in a bus accident (whether as a pedestrian, passenger, or the driver of another vehicle), they may be able to sue a number of parties for compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, these parties may include:
- The bus driver
- The bussing company
- The bus driver’s supervisor
- Other vehicle drivers
- The company responsible for maintenance on the bus
- The manufacturer of the bus
- The city, state, county, and/or school district (for public transport or school busses)
How do I know which parties are liable in a bus accident?
The ability to sue in these cases is based on liability. That is, if there is a party that had some amount of responsibility—even partially—for the accident, then they may be sued. Even if the injured party was partially liable for the accident, they can still sue other responsible parties, and may be able to collect damages under California’s comparative liability law.
When considering bus accidents in Los Angeles and Carlsbad, California, there are several elements that must be proven in order to show liability. Specifically, you have to show that the other party:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached that duty of care
- Had their breach of duty play a significant factor in causing your injuries
Are there any special rules that apply in bus accident personal injury cases?
Yes, there are a number of special rules that apply in bus accident personal injury cases, depending on the type of case. A few examples include:
- Vehicle Code 21702: This criminal code affects bus accidents in Los Angeles and Carlsbad, California. It makes it a misdemeanor for a bus driver to be behind the wheel of a bus for too many hours in a day, or while significantly drowsy. If the bus driver involved in your bus accident was at the wheel for too many hours or was drowsy, they may be liable under California’s negligence laws.
- Respondeat Superior Laws: In Los Angeles and Carlsbad, CA, if an employee (i.e., a bus driver or bus driver supervisor) is found to be negligent, then their employer is vicariously liable for any damages caused by their negligent employee (so long as the employee was operating within the scope of their job). This gives you better chances for substantial compensation, since an employer is much more likely to have funds or relevant insurance policies than an employee.
- Waiving Sovereign Immunity: Usually, states claim “sovereign immunity” from many types of lawsuits. However, if your accident involved a city or state-run bus in California, that immunity is waived in cases of employee negligence. If your accident was caused even partially by a negligent state, city, or municipal employee, then you often will have grounds to sue the employer-government.
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