What Are Your Rights After Being Injured in a California Bus Accident?
A new law affecting public bus transportation passed in California, making individuals that use these types of transit networks originally feel relief. Several deadly bus accidents occurred on California freeways over the past few years, and to try to curb this trend, state lawmakers passed a bill known as AB 1677 to enforce stricter policies on tour bus inspections.
However, the law, although placed into law with the best intentions, seems to be a failure already. While the law calls for both cities and counties to use the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to complete tour bus inspections for companies that work locally, the CHP reports that nobody requested any inspections to date, possibly because the cities and counties would be required to pay for the inspections out of their own pockets.
As shockingly selfish and risky avoiding bus inspections over money appears to the average person, you should still know your rights if you’ve been injured in a California bus accident.
Common Carrier Expectations
A common carrier is a bus or any other public transportation system that carries people to destinations for free. These include:
- School buses
- City buses
If something goes wrong during the transport process and an accident occurs, injuring passengers, it can sometimes be hard to tell who is at fault—the driver, manufacturer, or bus company.
Duty of Care
Common carriers are expected by state and federal laws to ensure quality safety standards so that passengers can travel free from injury. For buses, duty of care means:
- The bus companies must maintain their buses.
- Buses must be inspected.
- Drivers must be trained and experiences.
If a personal injury occurs on a bus ride, then that passenger needs to determine of the accident happened due to lack of bus maintenance. If this is the case, then the bus company is liable. If the accident occurred because of the driver, then the bus company may be required to claim responsibility if the driver was:
- not trained correctly
Common Carriers Versus Private Carriers
While common carriers offer free services to the public, private carriers do not. Private carriers may refuse service to individuals if they choose.
Private carriers do not always act under the principle of “duty of care,” unlike common carriers. On the other hand, private carriers must act under what is known as “reasonable care.”
What is Reasonable Care?
Reasonable care means private carriers must act with the same standards of care that any normal person would use operating in a comparable capacity. This law means that common carriers are typically held to higher standards than private carriers.
Still, even with this distinction present, buses operating in both the common carrier and private carrier capacity may still create accidents that injure passengers. Even if an injury occurs on a private bus ride, and the private transportation service was negligible with its duty of care, injured passengers can still hold private carriers liable under the duty of care law, and win in court.
Consult with an experienced bus accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash to protect your legal rights.