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A woman attending this year's Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert has reportedly been killed in a bus accident.
The woman, who has not been identified pending notification of her next of kin, fell under a bus carrying festival attendees, reports the Burning Man Blog.
What are some of the legal options the woman's family may have following this tragic incident?
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a person's death may be caused by the intentional or negligent actions of another, the deceased person's family may decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death lawsuits generally require the survival of family members who are suffering financial harm as a result of their family member's death. The wrongful death lawsuit seeks to compensate surviving family members for this financial loss, by awarding them damages in the amount of lost support, services, and income the deceased may have provided as well as medical and funeral expenses.
Liability of Festival Organizers
One possible avenue of legal recourse would be to bring suit against the organizers of the festival for negligence. Negligence generally requires that a person or business have a duty to act reasonably, and that by failing to do so, they caused injury or death.
In this case, the woman's family could claim that the festival organizers had a duty to make the festival grounds reasonably safe and that their failure to do so caused the woman's death.
Liability of Bus Driver, Owner
The woman's family could also allege negligence on the part of the bus driver, as well as the owner of the bus or bus company.
Buses are generally considered to be common carriers, which makes them subject to a higher standard of safety. This may mean that even a minor breach of the bus driver's duty to act safely may be sufficient for liability for negligence. However, this typically only applies to injuries to passengers.
If the bus was being driven by someone other than the owner who was being compensated for doing so, the owner of the bus or bus company may also be liable for any negligence on the part of the driver under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. The owner of a vehicle may also be held liable for the negligent acts of the driver if it was found they had a reason to know the person was a bad driver or was otherwise unfit to operate the vehicle.