Many people rely on buses to get back and forth between work and school. Like other vehicles, there’s always the chance of an accident, and victims should know their rights as well as their legal recourse options. There are various rules for handling different kinds of bus crashes in St. Petersburg, FL. Filing a claim against a bus company that’s privately owned and operated is much different than filing a lawsuit against a government entity. Get a free case evaluation by speaking with one of our expert bus crash attorneys in St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg Bus Accident Attorneys
Possible Damages in Bus Crashes
Bus drivers generally spend their time on city streets and in residential areas rather than the highway. This means they drive slower, which reduces the risk of crashing. However, buses are much bigger than standard passenger vehicles and capable of inflicting serious injury and damage. Additionally, buses don’t usually have the same safety features that regular cars possess.
Just like any other wreck, a bus crash may result in serious injuries, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries. Bus crashes can also cause severe property damage. If you suffer injury or damage from a Metropolitan Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus crash, school bus accident, long-distance bus wreck, or tour bus crash, you need to know how to deal with these situations. The St. Petersburg Bus Accident Attorneys at Bulluck Law Group are here to help!
Common Causes of Bus Accidents in Florida
Bus crashes occur for several reasons. Since most public transportation buses maneuver around busy cities, issues such as aggressive drivers, traffic congestion, driving under the influence of alcohol, driver inattention, and road construction may arise. School bus drivers may deal with those same issues in suburban and residential areas. But they may also have to navigate dangerous country roads.
Serious bus crashes can happen when drivers experience seizures, faint, or fall asleep behind the wheel. Victims may pursue various options for getting compensation for damages depending on how the accident happened.
How Is Liability Determined in a St. Petersburg Bus Crash?
When a bus crash leads to someone getting hurt, the victim has to figure out who was at fault. The victim could be a bus passenger, another driver on the road, or even a pedestrian. If you are involved in this type of situation, obtain as much evidence as you can to build your case.
Evidence may include taking pictures of the scene, getting contact information from witnesses, and figuring out who is liable for the bus. If a Florida citizen takes a long-distance trip on a bus outside of the state, and there’s a wreck, the victim should refer to the laws in the state where the accident happened.
Will I Be Able to Sue PSTA?
If a private company such as Greyhound owns the bus, a victim must file a claim against the company. The situation changes when an accident involves a publicly-operated company, such as PSTA.
Filing a claim against a government agency is more difficult than filing a claim against a private company because of sovereign immunity. This concept describes most public entities’ immunity from civil liability claims. It may also apply in crash cases where school buses are involved.
Usually, a victim can only sue a government entity if the defendant agrees to accept the claim. There aren’t many circumstances that lead to this, but many communities buy insurance just in case. If no insurance exists, the victim can file a claim with their Uninsured Motorist insurance policy to get compensation for damages.
Laws Concerning Common Carriers
There are companies that offer transportation and shipping as paid services to the public known as common carriers. Compared to other motorists, they carry a higher duty of care. Bus companies, seafaring services, airlines, and taxi services are some examples of businesses that could fall under common carrier law.If a common carrier hurts a paying customer, the victim can usually file a personal injury lawsuit against the company.
There are several ways the federal government manages common carriers. These entities must notify customers of potential safety hazards. They are generally liable for property damage and customer injury. However, in situations such as freak accidents and natural disasters, common carriers will generally be exempt. Those types of events cannot be predicted. So as long as the common carrier proves it took appropriate measures to keep passengers safe, the carrier can avoid liability for damages to passengers.
What Can an Bus Accident Attorney Do to Help?
Bus crash lawyers in St. Petersburg can be valuable assets if you have suffered injuries or other losses from a bus wreck. It doesn’t matter whether a publicly-operated or privately-owned common carrier was to blame. When legal action is not feasible, you can file a claim against their insurance policies. However, claimants often get pushback in this complicated process.
A lawyer can help a victim examine their insurance policy to figure out coverage. A lawyer can also talk to the insurer to propose a satisfactory settlement for their client.
If a victim can file a claim against a publicly-operated common carrier for a bus crash, there are probably more victims from the same wreck. Bus crash attorneys in St. Petersburg can assist these people in putting together class-action claims or discovering other legal options.
Proof of Negligence
A bus crash will most likely result in personal injury claims if the company is privately owned and the wreck was due to clear negligence. Bus crash plaintiffs in cases against privately-owned companies have to prove four factors of negligence to win their claims:
- The plaintiff must show the court the defendant was obligated to provide a duty of care in the situation. In bus crash claims, this means establishing the plaintiff was a passenger in the defendant’s vehicle during the wreck.
- The plaintiff has to prove the defendant did not uphold the duty of care through action or, sometimes, inaction. For instance, a breach of duty by a bus company could mean failing to adequately train a new driver who caused a crash or failing to address an issue with the bus that made it unsafe.
- The plaintiff may only sue if they suffered injuries or losses as a result of the breach of duty by the defendant. There is no claim if the plaintiff wasn’t hurt, even if the defendant was negligent.
- The plaintiff has to prove a connection between the plaintiff’s damages and the defendant’s negligence. In other words, the plaintiff has to show causation. They must prove the damage wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the defendant’s negligence.
The right bus-crash attorneys in St. Petersburg can greatly improve the outcome of a case whether the defendant is a publicly operated entity, product manufacturer, private carrier, or negligent third party.
If you’ve been injured as a passenger on a PSTA or school bus in St. Petersburg or involved in an auto or Pedestrian Accident with a St. Petersburg bus, give us a call.