Chartering a tour bus is an efficient and relatively safe way to transport a large group of people to tourist destinations. But bus accidents do happen, occasionally leading to lawsuits and insurance claims. Various parties can become potential defendants in a lawsuit for bus accident injuries, depending on contractual relationships and terms.
This article provides an overview of how liability is determined, which parties may be sued for damages, and other issues related to bus accidents. See FindLaw's Travel and Aviation section for additional articles and resources, including Cruise Ship Accidents and Liability and Aviation Accidents: Overview.
The Bus as Common Carrier
Buses are considered "common carriers" in the eyes of federal and most state laws. A common carrier is an entity whose business is to transport people or goods from one place to another for compensation. This designation includes tour buses, commercial buses, and school buses; commercial airplanes; cruise ships; taxicabs; and certain trucks. A common carrier must exercise a very high degree of care and diligence with regard to the safety of its passengers. Most successful lawsuits against common carriers result from negligence or willful acts. As with other negligence claims, courts use the "reasonableness" standard.
For example, a reasonably careful bus driver is expected to stop at a reasonably safe place for passengers, obey all traffic laws, and not make dangerous maneuvers. When negligence leads to injuries, the injured party may sue for damages. But what if a drunk driver hits a bus, resulting in injuries to passengers? A court probably would not find the tour bus driver negligent, since a reasonably careful operator could not have foreseen the accident.
Who is Liable for Tour Bus Accidents?
Determining who is liable for a bus accident injury may seem simple at first, but it is not always so clear. There are a host of different entities that could be found liable for a bus accident. It could be the company contracted to provide bus service to a school, the individual driver, even the school district. Multiple parties could be held liable for contributory negligence if they are at least partially to blame for the injury-causing accident.
The determination of liability often gets even more complicated for injuries sustained on a chartered tour bus. The parties typically involved in a tour bus injury lawsuit often include:
Injured on a Tour Bus? Consider Working With an Attorney
Bus accidents, whether they occur on a chartered tour bus or a yellow school bus, can result in serious injuries. Knowing how to begin, and determining which parties are responsible can be difficult. Contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss your accident and learn more about how to go about seeking compensation.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.