Hundreds of people ride the bus every day in Florida. They go to work, they go home, and they visit with family and friends. Unfortunately, with so many passengers, a bus accident can be a major catastrophe.
Many factors come into play to cause bus accidents, and there are special laws that apply to buses as public or private transportation. This makes bus accident cases far more challenging to pursue than car accidents. Because of the complexities surrounding bus litigation, victims should contact an experienced attorney to get maximum compensation for the damages they incur in a bus accident.
Under Florida law, most buses are defined as “common carriers.” Common carriers are vehicles businesses use to transport people or goods for a price, such as school buses, charter buses, and tour buses. Common carriers have specific state and federal laws that apply to them.
The law requires common carriers to provide their passengers with the highest possible duty of care. This means that the law demands that the company and driver do everything possible to ensure the safety of the people that they transport. They must properly maintain all equipment and correctly train all drivers to follow the laws of the road and all safety procedures.
Causes of Bus Accidents
There are many factors that come into play when attempting to discern who a person can sue for damages after a bus accident. Depending on the type of bus, there are particular causes that are more common than others. For instance, accidents involving long-distance charter buses are often at least partially to blame on driver fatigue. City buses, which have to make more stops and starts, may be more prone to equipment failure.
However, in all types of bus accidents, the most common cause of the accident is negligence on the part of the bus driver. In these cases, people injured in a bus accident would usually sue the charter company that owns the bus.
Many bus accidents involve another vehicle and may not have been caused by the common carrier at all. In these cases, any injured parties would likely be able to file a lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle for negligence.
Government-Owned Buses in Florida
One thing that it is notably important for people to remember about buses is that many of them are owned by cities or school districts. These are government entities, not private ones, and anyone attempting to sue them must follow certain regulations.
These regulations vary from state to state, but some of the important ones for Florida are:
- A person can only file an injury claim against a government entity or employee if that entity’s negligent actions or inactions caused the injury.
- The government entity or employee would have still been liable for the accident if he or she were a private party.
- No one can directly sue government employees for injuries unless they caused the injuries intentionally. Claimants must file all claims against the government agency that employs them.
- No one can win punitive damages against the government of the state of Florida.
- A person has to put the government entity involved in their accident, as well as Florida’s Department of Financial Service, on notice within three years of the incident.
Filing a claim against a government entity is a complicated process. Any person who has been injured in a bus accident where the city or a school district owned the bus should contact legal counsel to discuss his or her options and the processes he or she needs to get started. Florida residents injured in a bus accident of any kind can call SteinLaw for a complimentary case review.