Palm Harbor Bus Accident Lawyer
Many Americans of all ages rely daily on buses to get to and from work and school. Like any other vehicle, there is always the potential for an accident to occur, and injured passengers need to know their rights and options for legal recourse. However, there are different rules for handling different types of bus accidents. Filing a lawsuit against a privately owned and operated bus company is very different from filing a claim against a government entity.
Potential Damages in Bus Accidents
Buses are much larger than standard passenger cars and capable of inflicting serious damage and injuries, but they spend most of their time driving through busy city streets and residential areas rather than the highway. While this translates to generally lower speeds and an assumed lower risk of accidents, buses typically don’t have the same safety features for passengers that typical cars have.
Like any other vehicle accident, a bus accident can lead to serious injuries like broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Bus accidents can also lead to significant property damage. Anyone who suffers injuries or other damages from a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (HART) bus accident, school bus accident, or accident while riding a tour bus or long-distance bus service needs to know how to handle these situations. The Palm Harbor Bus Accident Lawyers at Bulluck Law Group are here to help, so keep our firm in mind if you ever need a Palm Harbor HART and school bus accident lawyer.
Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents happen for a number of reasons. Since many public transportation buses operate in busy cities, traffic congestion and aggressive drivers are serious concerns. Road construction, driver inattention, and driving under the influence (DUI) are all possible causes, as well. School buses travel in suburban and residential areas as well as cities, so they are vulnerable to the same circumstances as well as inherently more dangerous country roads and backroads. Major bus accidents have happened when drivers fainted, fell asleep, or experienced seizures while driving. Depending on how an accident happens, victims may have several options for securing compensation for their damages.
Determining Liability in a Bus Accident in Palm Harbor
When a bus accident results in injuries to passengers, other motorists, or pedestrians, the injured parties will need to determine who is at fault for the accident. If you find yourself in such a situation, try to secure as much evidence as possible to support your case. This could include taking photos of the accident site, obtaining contact information from eyewitnesses, and determining who is responsible for the bus. If a citizen of Florida takes a long-distance bus trip outside of the state and an accident occurs, the injured party must refer to the state’s laws in which the accident occurred.
Can I Sue HART?
If the bus belongs to a private company like Greyhound, injured parties will need to file claims against those companies. If an accident involving a publicly-operated bus company like HART occurs, the rules are a bit different. Filing a lawsuit against any government agency is much more difficult than filing a suit against a private company, as the concept of “sovereign immunity” may come into play. Sovereign immunity describes many public entities’ immunity from civil liability claims and may also apply in accident cases involving school buses.
Typically, an injured party can only sue a government entity if the entity agrees to accept the lawsuit. There are very few circumstances that would lead to this, but most communities purchase insurance for these situations. If no such insurance exists, the injured party can file a claim against his or her own Uninsured Motorist insurance policy to recover damages.
Common Carrier Laws
Privately owned and operated companies that provide shipping and transportation as paid services to the public are “common carriers” and carry a higher duty of care than other drivers. Bus companies, airlines, taxi services, and seafaring services are a few examples of businesses that may fall under common carrier law. When a common carrier causes injury to a paying customer, the injured party can typically file a personal injury claim against the company.
The federal government regulates common carriers in many ways, and common carriers have a duty to notify customers of any potential safety hazards. Common carriers are typically liable for any injuries and property damages to customers, but some situations like natural disasters and freak accidents are exempt from this. No one can predict these circumstances, so as long as the common carrier can prove it took reasonable measures to ensure passenger safety, the carrier can escape liability for passenger damages.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Palm Harbor Bus Accident Lawyers can be valuable assets for anyone who has suffered injuries or other losses from a bus accident, whether it was a private common carrier or a publicly operated common carrier. When legal action isn’t available, injured parties can make claims against their own insurance policies, but this is a complicated process and claimants often encounter pushback for these claims. An attorney can help an injured individual carefully examine his or her insurance policy to determine which damages are covered. An attorney can also handle conversations with an insurer to encourage a more agreeable settlement amount for his or her client.
In the event an injured passenger has the opportunity to file a lawsuit against a publicly operated common carrier for a bus accident, there are likely more passengers who suffered similar injuries in the same accident. Palm Harbor Bus Accident Lawyers can help these injured parties form class-action claims or explore other legal options.
The most common way for a bus accident to lead to personal injury claims is if the bus company is a privately-owned entity and the accident resulted from clear negligence. Plaintiffs in bus accident cases against privately owned companies will need to prove four elements of negligence to succeed in their lawsuits:
- The plaintiff has to show the court that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the given situation. In bus accident claims, this simply means establishing that the plaintiff was a passenger on the defendant’s vehicle during the accident.
- Next, the plaintiff must prove how the defendant failed to uphold this duty of care through some action or, in some cases, inaction. For example, a bus company’s breach of duty could be failing to properly train a new bus driver who causes an accident or failing to address a known safety issue with a bus.
- The plaintiff can only sue if he or she suffered injuries or other losses as the results of the defendant’s breach of duty. Even if the defendant was clearly negligent, if the plaintiff suffered no harm, there is no claim.
- The plaintiff must also prove the link between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff must prove causation, or that the damages would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence.
The right Palm Harbor Bus Accident Lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome of a bus accident case, no matter if the defendant is a publicly operated entity, a private carrier, a product manufacturer, or a negligent third party. The Bulluck Law Group in Palm Harbor, Florida has extensive experience handling all types of civil actions for bus accident cases. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Once we examine the details of your case and determine liability, we can advise you of your best options for recovery.
Description: If you’ve been injured as a passenger on a HART or school bus in Palm Harbor or involved in an auto or pedestrian accident with a Palm Harbor bus, give us a call.