Common Issues in Bus Accident Claims

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Tour bus, intercity bus, and other such crashes have increased a staggaring 48 percent since 2009. That’s mostly due to an increase in passenger traffic. Other than airplanes, buses are by far the largest common carriers in the United States.

That status makes it easier for a St. Louis personal injury attorney to establish negligence in bus crash cases. Buses are common carriers. So, they have a higher duty of care than noncommercial operators. Additionally, buses must ensure passenger safety before, during, and after the ride.

Procedural Issues

Generally, bus crashes occur far from home and involve multiple victims from multiple places. Therefore, venue and choice of law issues sometimes arise.

Venue is basically the geographic authority to hear a legal claim. Venue is usually appropriate in the county where the victim lived or the county where the accident occurred. If an attorney has a choice of where to file, a number of considerations emerge. The jury pool is a good example. Generally, jurors in rural counties are more conservative than jurors in urban counties.

If the victim was from another state, choice of law might be a factor. Some states have more favorable negligence laws than other jurisdictions.

What Causes Bus Accidents?

In terms of roadway accidents, circadian rhythm fatigue is a significant problem. Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning, around noon, and late at night. It does not matter how much rest they had the night before.

Many bus drivers are behind the wheel at these hours. So, even if the company takes steps to ensure the driver gets enough sleep, the driver might still be fatigued, especially if the driver recently changed work shifts. Pre-existing conditions, like sleep apnea, make circadian rhythm fatigue even worse.

The lack of a supervisor of chaperone causes many falls, passenger-on-passenger assaults, and other such injuries. It’s very difficult for drivers to drive the bus and also keep the floor clean and break up fights before they become violent. That’s especially true in party bus wrecks.

Third Party Liability

The respondeat superior doctrine is almost always a factor in bus, Uber, truck, and other commercial vehicle wrecks. Employers are vicariously liable for damages if:

  • Employee: Most bus drivers are employees for negligence purposes. It doesn’t matter if the driver was technically an independent contractor, owner-operator, or even an unpaid volunteer.
  • Scope of Employment: The law defines this element broadly as well. Any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. So, this label applies to activities like driving an empty bus to a garage.

Vicarious liability theories like respondeat superior are especially important in wrongful death claims. Frequently, individual drivers do not have enough insurance coverage to pay fair compensation in these claims.

Bus crash claims are very complex in a number of ways. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Louis, contact Schultz & Myers, Personal Injury Lawyers. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. 

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