Buses are meant to carry a large number of passengers at once, and oftentimes, people do not wear seatbelts on a bus like they would while in a car. These circumstances make bus accidents more catastrophic than car accidents in many ways, especially when coupled with the negligence or reckless driving by the driver of the bus or another vehicle. The New Jersey attorneys at Rinaldo Law Group have experience working with parties involved in a bus accident and have helped their clients recover damages for their injuries.
Bus Accident Law falls under the common carrier law because buses offer transportation services to people as part of a business. A common carrier is an individual or business that transports people, goods, or services for a fee, and offers its services to the general public under license or authority provided by a regulatory governmental body. Common carriers can be private companies or public entities. These laws are regulated on the local, state and federal level. The Federal government regulates common carriers that transport passengers or cargo across state lines under the Interstate Commerce Act, and individual states regulate travel within a state.
Other modes of transportation that fall under the common carrier category include school buses, taxis, trains, light-rail, trolleys, cable cars, tour boats, cruise ships, ferries, airplanes, airport shuttles, and, in some states, limousines.
Common carriers have a legal responsibility to show a higher duty of care since they offer their services to the public for a fee. While non-commercial drivers must operate under reasonable care, a common carrier must use the highest degree of care and vigilance for the safety of its passengers, and the public. Failure to adhere to that higher duty of care can be considered negligence. Therefore, if you are a bus passenger and injured as the result of an accident, special rules apply.
If a bus accident is due to the negligence of the carrier; such as speeding, fatigue, maintenance failures, tire failures, or inadequate bus driver training; the carrier is liable for damages under personal injury or wrongful death tort law. When minor children, ill or disabled persons are injured as passengers on a bus, special rules may apply as well.
It is important to note that because many common carriers are governmental agencies, usually very specific and limited time frames apply for filing a claim for these types of cases. This time period is called a statute of limitations. In addition, with governmental entities, there may also be special notices that must be filed within a certain time period before filing a legal claim. Therefore, it is advisable if you or a family member has been injured due to a bus accident, that you consult with an attorney experienced in common carrier law.
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