CA Bus Crashes Highlight Risks Riders Face, As Well As Their Rights

Many people in San Mateo County, California, assume that their safety is a given when they use forms of public or chartered transportation such as buses. However, a number of recentbus crashes highlight the fact that riders may not be as safe as they believe. It is important for passengers to understand the risks as well as their rights in the event of an accident.

Bus crash headlines

There have been several fairly recent bus crashes in California. In August, a party bus driver was charged with DUI, hit-and-run and manslaughter after a passenger was killed in a crash near Santa Clara County. In September, two casino tour buses crashed much further south while driving in North County, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in these crashes, although some people sustained injuries.

Back near the San Mateo County area, a party bus fleet owner was arrested in May of this year for vehicular manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. In 2012, a passenger riding on one of the operator’s party buses was fatally injured when she and another passenger fell out the door of the bus while fighting.

The same party bus company had already been cited in 2010 for various violations, including failure to conduct drug testing and operating with a suspended license, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. After the tragic death last year, the operator was found guilty of negligence for failing to keep his vehicles in safe working order.

Of course, most people can’t simply stop riding buses for fear of injury. However, Californians should understand the importance of choosing reputable transportation companies and seeking help in the event that they are hurt in an accident.

Recourse for bus accidents

Motor vehicle accident victims sometimes have grounds for a personal injury case, and people injured in bus accidents are no exception. Whether an accident involves a city-operated bus or a private charter bus, a driver or operator may be held liable. The following things must be demonstrated to establish negligence:

  • The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff
  • The defendant failed to fulfill that duty or exercise reasonable care
  • The defendant’s actions directly caused the plaintiff’s injury
  • The harm done to the plaintiff was foreseeable and preventable by the defendant
  • The plaintiff sustained legally recognized harm

The accidents described above reflect the complexity of these issues. Sometimes, a driver may be held liable because his or her conduct caused the accident, just as an irresponsible driver of a regular vehicle could be held liable. Sometimes, an operator responsible for duties like providing training or keeping equipment functioning may be found guilty of negligence, even if he or she was not physically present when the injury occurred.

It is important for people who are injured through no fault of their own to understand their rights. These recent bus accidents reflect the fact that personal injuries truly can happen anywhere.

If you have been injured and believe that the actions of another led directly to your injury, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can investigate the circumstances of your injury and determine whether you have a strong case.

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