When bus accidents occur, the fall under the legal realm of common carrier laws. Common carrier laws apply to individuals and businesses that charge a fee for transporting people, goods or services and that are regulated by a license issued by some kind of government or regulatory authority. This includes all kinds of buses.
It does not matter whether a bus that you were riding on is operated by a public entity or a private company, they are required to follow common carrier laws that apply within their immediate locale, as well as any state and or federal regulations. Federal common carrier laws apply to any vehicle that carries passengers or cargo across state lines. Individual state laws apply to those that travel within a state.
The Responsibility of a Common Carrier
The responsibilities that come with being a common carrier are straightforward and adhere to rules of common sense. Because they are carrying so many people and are charging a fee for doing so, common carriers have a responsibility to exercise a higher level of care then is the case for a private, non-commercial driver. They must adhere to a higher level of safety.
When a common carrier is shown to have neglected their responsibility to exercise this higher degree of safety and responsibility for those that they are transporting, they can be held accountable for their failures. The charge in these cases is generally that of negligence, and claims can be filed by passengers who have been injured as a result.
Negligence of a Common Carrier
There are a number of different instances or actions that can be interpreted as negligence by either a bus driver or a bus company. These can include driving too fast, driving while fatigued, not having properly maintained the vehicle itself, not having properly maintained or checked the tires or brakes, or failure to provide proper training for the bus driver.
When any of these situations can be proven, the owner of the bus or the bus company that employs the driver can be named in a lawsuit and be required to pay damages to those who have been injured. Lawsuits against common carriers seeking these types of damages must be filed within the time period defined by the statute of limitations.