Bus crashes can be more deadly than car accidents because of the size and weight of the vehicle and the number of people involved. A severe bus accident could leave its victims physically and emotionally traumatized.
If you are injured in a public transit collision, a Bala Cynwyd bus accident lawyer could discuss your case with you, including your right to compensation from the reckless party. Contacting a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident could improve your chances of recovering damages.
Negligence Lawsuits Against Owners of Private Bus Carriers
Some buses are privately-owned and employed in for-profit businesses, such as Greyhound Lines, casinos, hotels, private schools, and nursing homes. If a commercial bus carrier’s driver causes an accident in which people are injured, the carrier and possibly the driver could be liable for harm under the tort of negligence.
To prove negligence, the victim must show that the bus line, driver, or both had a duty to act reasonably to keep others in their paths from harm; the duty was breached; and the breach was the actual and proximate cause of victims’ injuries.
Proving actual cause would mean proving that the bus driver was the actual driver in the accident, and the bus is the vehicle that crashed. Proximate cause means that, if the victim were not on the crashed bus, they would not have been injured. Some breaches of the driver’s or carrier’s duties include:
- The bus driver is intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- The bus line did not hire a licensed commercial driver or did not properly train them
- The driver is distracted by texting, eating, drinking, or admiring the scenery
- The bus is not properly maintained
- The driver is in a hurry on a schedule
- The driver is overworked and fatigued
A nearby bus crash attorney could review an individual’s case to determine if the driver or the bus owner is negligent.
Sovereign Immunity and Government-Owned Bus Services
The government does not make a profit when providing services for citizens, so laws are in place to protect it from lawsuits, preserving taxpayer dollars to pay for services. Sovereign immunity describes the narrow circumstances under which the government can be sued.
Chapter 85 of The Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act offers a window to suing a public school district or regional transit system when a bus is involved in an accident in which the driver or government entity is found negligent. If a passenger is injured in a public transit accident, the state-created Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) requires them to file answers to six questions before submitting a legal claim form.
Different Compensation from Public and Private Bus Carriers
Private companies are subject to lawsuits for whatever amount juries will award victims in personal injury cases based on negligence. A victim’s attorney can make a case for economic and non-economic compensatory damages, including medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and future lost wages. Punitive damages can also be awarded if a defendant acts outrageously. An attorney in the area can offer advice as to what behavior can be qualified as outrageous in a bus accident.
Pennsylvania law caps damages awards against government entities at $500,000 per incident, but there may be an exception if two government entities are defendants. For example, if the two entities are a school district and a city, a plaintiff might be able to collect $500,000 from each.
Pennsylvania also limits damages awards to compensatory damages that can be measured, such as medical bills and lost wages. Government entities only pay damages for pain and suffering if the victim dies, is permanently disfigured, or loses bodily function, and the plaintiff’s medical bills are more than $1,500.
A Bala Cynwyd Bus Accident Attorney is Waiting for Your Call
It may be difficult to navigate the differences between state laws involving commercial and public carrier bus crashes on your own. A Bala Cynwyd bus accident lawyer can guide you through filing a claim and help you seek damages for any suffering you may have endured. Call today and schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can fight for you right to compensation.