COMMON BUS ACCIDENT INJURIES
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Bus Accident Injury Attorneys
Serious injuries can unfortunately occur in bus accidents. If you were a passenger on a bus, a pedestrian, or in other vehicles involved in an accident with the bus, Beverly Hills Injury Firm has top injury lawyers that will get you quality medical care and monetary compensation.
In Los Angeles County alone, over a million people ride a bus every weekday. The public transit buses operated within the county include The Metro, Silver Streak, Big Blue Bus, and Culver CityBus. In addition, school buses are operated by public schools and some private schools throughout the state. In Los Angeles, tour buses are also seen on a regular basis, and commercial buses also transport people to and from casinos.
COMMON CARRIER LIABILITY TO PASSENGERS
If a passenger on a bus is injured, the bus operator will likely be held to the standard of a common carrier. A common carrier is a company that is in the business of transporting the general public and that maintains a regular place of business for this purpose, advertises its services to the general public, and charges standard fees for its services. All common carriers must use the highest care and must do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers. In general, a common carrier must use reasonable skill to provide everything necessary for safe transportation.
Common carriers must also provide and maintain safe buses and equipment for their passengers and are responsible for any defect in a bus if they created the defect, knew of the defect, or would have known of the defect if they had used the highest care. In addition, if a common carrier voluntarily accepts an ill or a disabled person as a passenger and is aware of that person’s condition, it must use as much additional care as is reasonably necessary to ensure the passenger’s safety. Likewise, if a common carrier voluntarily accepts a child as a passenger, it must use as much additional care as is reasonably necessary to ensure the child’s safety.
ATTACKED OR ASSAULTED BY ANOTHER PERSON ON THE BUS?
A common carrier may also have a duty to protect passengers from assault by another passenger. To establish such a claim, it is necessary to prove that the bus company knew, or by using the highest care, should have known that a passenger was reasonably likely to attack another person and that, by using the highest care, it could have prevented or reduced the harm from the attack. The California Supreme Court has noted the special relationship a bus driver has to the passengers, as passengers are seated together with the means of entry and exit under the exclusive control of the driver and with no control over who is admitted on the bus; furthermore, if trouble arises, passengers are wholly dependent on the bus driver to summon help or to provide a means of escape.
BUS LIABILITY TO NON-PASSENGERS
If a bus driver negligently operates a bus that hits and injures a pedestrian or an occupant of another vehicle, the bus driver’s employer is responsible for the driver’s negligence under a doctrine known as vicarious liability. Pursuant to vicarious liability, an employer is responsible for harm caused by its employees while such employees are acting within the scope of their employment.
Many buses are operated by governmental entities, including cities and counties. Claims against such governmental entities must be brought pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act. Government Code § 815.2 states that a public entity is liable for injury proximately caused by an act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment. The governmental entity will, therefore, typically be held responsible for the negligence of its employee bus drivers.
CALIFORNIA TORT CLAIMS ACT
If a bus owned, operated, or controlled by a governmental entity is involved in an accident, the case will likely have to be brought pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act. Section 911.2 of the Government Code requires a claim be presented to the governmental entity within six (6) months of the date of the accident. This claim must include the following information:
(a) The name and post office address of the claimant.
(b) The post office address to which the person presenting the claim desires notices to be sent.
(c) The date, place and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted.
(d) A general description of the indebtedness, obligation, injury, damage or loss incurred so far as it may be known at the time of presentation of the claim.
(e) The name or names of the public employee or employees causing the injury, damage, or loss, if known.
(f) The amount claimed if it totals less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) as of the date of presentation of the claim, including the estimated amount of any prospective injury, damage, or loss, insofar as it may be known at the time of the presentation of the claim, together with the basis of computation of the amount claimed. If the amount claimed exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000), no dollar amount shall be included in the claim. However, it shall indicate whether the claim would be a limited civil case.
See Government Code § 910. Many public entities, including the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles, have forms to fill out when making a claim pursuant to the Tort Claims Act. Before making such a claim, you should always confer with an attorney, as not properly completely the claim form could negatively impact your ability to recover in a lawsuit.
DAMAGES DUE TO INJURIES FROM BUS ACCIDENTS
Bus accidents can result in serious and permanent injuries to a passenger on the bus or to a pedestrian or an individual in a vehicle struck by the bus. A person injured due to the negligence of a bus driver is entitled to recover economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are ascertainable monetary amounts, including lost wages and medical bills. If injuries are severe, the person may not be able to return to work and therefore may be entitled to the loss of future wage-earning capacity for the remainder of the anticipated life expectancy. In addition, some people injured in a bus accident require medical treatment for the rest of their lives. To calculate the amount that this long-term care will cost, our firm retains a specialist to prepare what is known as a “life care plan,” which is a plan that sets out medical and medically related care that will be needed over the remainder of the injured person’s life.
Non-economic damages include items such as emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and humiliation.
In some situations, a bus injury can result in death. In such a case, the deceased’s family members, or wrongful death beneficiaries, may be entitled to recover the medical bills as well as the funeral and burial costs. The deceased’s loved ones can also recover for their own damages due to the loss of love and society of the deceased person.
TIME LIMITS FOR FILING CLAIMS FOR BUS ACCIDENTS
As discussed previously, many claims for bus accidents will arise under the California Tort Claims Act, and notice of the claim must be served within six (6) months from the date of the accident. For cases against private bus companies, the statute of limitations for filing most claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury. If you believe you or someone close to you may have a claim for damages arising from a bus accident, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
 Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 607.
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