When you step onto a bus (or any other form of public transportation), you place your total confidence in the driver and trust that he or she will get you where you need to go safely and without incident. In the vast majority of cases, bus trips go exactly as planned. However, navigating a large vehicle on city streets is a difficult and stressful task, and bus drivers are prone to making mistakes that cause injury to their passengers.
Below, we will discuss the very high duty of care that bus operators owe to their passengers, as well as some of the most common bus accident and injury scenarios.
Liability of Bus Operators as Common Carriers
A common carrier is an individual, company, or public agency that is in the regular business of transporting people or freight for hire. This includes buses, trains, taxicabs, cruise ships, and airplanes. Because common carriers often hold the lives of their passengers in their hands, they are subject to strict regulation by various governmental entities, and the law imposes upon them an extraordinary duty to keep their passengers safe. Common carriers (including bus operators) can be held liable for injuries to their passengers not only for failing to follow regulations, but also for failing to exercise diligence in protecting their passengers from injuries. In legal terms, this means that the designation of a defendant as a common carrier in a negligence action makes proving the defendant’s breach of duty slightly easier on the plaintiff.
Common Bus Accident and Injury Scenarios
Due to their unique size, shape, and frequent stops and starts, the types of accidents buses get into differ somewhat from those of ordinary passenger vehicles. Some of the most common types of accidents and injuries associated with buses include:
- Turning accidents: Because buses are much longer than ordinary passenger vehicles, they make very wide turns similar to semi trucks. The bus can often strike other cars or pedestrians if the driver is not exercising appropriate care when making a turn.
- Sudden stopping or acceleration: If the bus driver stops the bus very suddenly or accelerates too rapidly, passengers can be thrown either forward or backward. This can cause severe injuries, especially since many buses (especially city buses and school buses) are not equipped with seatbelts.
- Striking pedestrians or cyclists: Buses often operate in busy urban areas where pedestrian and bicycle traffic is much higher than in suburban or rural areas. Not only are pedestrians and cyclists harder for a bus driver to see than passenger vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists often suffer much more severe injuries after being hit than do occupants of passenger vehicles.
- Engaging in negligent or reckless driving: Bus drivers must go through special training in order to gain the privilege of carrying passengers, but they are still human and are prone to making mistakes. Just as human error is a very common cause of passenger vehicle accidents, the same holds true for bus drivers.
Contact a Waldorf Bus Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a bus accident, you may be able to seek compensation from the bus company or public agency responsible. To learn more about bus accidents, as well as the intricacies of pursing claims against public transit agencies, contact the Waldorf bus accident attorneys at the Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles by calling 301-705-5006. We have office locations in Laurel and Leonardtown for your convenience.