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What You Need to Know About Bus Accidents

What You Need to Know About Bus Accidents

Posted By The Dunnion Law Firm || 10-Feb-2017

Those who have been hurt on public transit actually have a more direct route to legal recourse than had they been injured in a typical transportation accident.

Under California law, and in most other states, public transit entities are considered “common carriers” under the term’s legal definition. This designation means that transit operators have to uphold a higher standard of care than an “ordinary” person. In fact, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 902 states that “common carriers must use the highest level of care and the vigilance of a very cautious person.”

This strict legal test can make public transit accident lawsuits more straightforward in many ways, but there are also many complicating factors and special considerations to keep in mind.

Proving Negligence of a Common Carrier

All negligence cases require three primary showings:

  • That the defendant had a duty of care

  • That the defendant breached their duty through actions that can be construed as negligent

  • That the breach in duty was the direct cause of an injury that incurred significant medical costs or personal suffering

Under “ordinary” negligence cases, the defending party is usually understood to have an “ordinary” standard of care as an average “reasonably competent” person would. As mentioned above, public transit common carriers have an even higher standard of care, one that expects them to “do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm of passengers.”

Combined with the expectation that transit operators will use the “reasonable skill” they have acquired through training and experience, this rigid care standard can enable public transit injury victims to allege negligent behavior in a wider range of scenarios than a typical case.

For instance, if a bus driver travels through a freeway interchange at a relatively fast speed and causes a bus to tip over, the average person might not have been able to predict that the posted speed limit may be too fast for a top-heavy vehicle. However, a bus driver should be both familiar with the handling tendencies of their vehicle and with the needed driving habits for sections of a familiar route.

In this way, what might have been a situation that is perceived as unavoidable for an ordinary person becomes potential negligence under the common carrier’s higher standard of care.

Other Legal Considerations After Getting Hurt on Public Transit

While common carriers have a higher expected standard of care, public entities are also protected by strict procedural requirements for injury claims. In the state of California, all claims must be filed within six months of the injury incident, with limited exceptions.

You must also ensure that your claim reaches the correct governmental office in order for your claim to be processed and responded to. If you were hurt on the Monterey public bus system, for instance, you would file a claim with Monterey-Salinas Transit.

To ensure that your claim is filed properly and that liability is assessed under the appropriate legal lens, you may wish to have a Monterey personal injury lawyer represent your case and assist you with filing your claim.

If you have been injured on public transit, you can contact the Dunnion Law Firm to receive a free consultation and to potentially start your injury claim today.