Injured on a Bus? 5 Legal Points to Consider
If you're injured on a bus, how much can you collect? For one California woman, the answer is $15.3 million. Maria Francisco's verdict against a public transit district was upheld last week by a state court.
Francisco fractured her spine when the AC Transit bus she was riding in went over a speed bump at 30 mph in a 15 mph zone. San Francisco's KPIX-TV reports that the bump caused Francisco to fly into the air and land hard back on the seat; importantly, the moment of impact -- and Francisco's injury -- was caught on bus surveillance video.
The verdict is the just latest in a slew of large damage awards in personal injury cases involving buses. If you're injured on a bus, here are five legal points to consider:
- Buses are considered "common carriers." A common carrier is generally any entity whose business transports people or goods from one place to another for a fee. As common carriers, buses are subject to higher standards of safety.
- Was the bus public or private? The path a bus injury lawsuit takes will be in part determined by who the bus was owned or operated by. For example, a school bus injury would likely result in a lawsuit against the school district for which the bus was being driven.
- Lawsuits against public agencies require "notice of claim." If the lawsuit names a public agency as a defendant, the requirements of your state's Tort Claims Act will need to be followed strictly. These acts typically require the government be given notice of a claim within a specified number of days following an injury.
- Injury damages may be capped. Depending on the state your injury occurred in, your potential damages may be subject to a damage cap. A Pennsylvania girl hit by a school bus in 2007 was awarded over $14 million in damages by a jury. However, thanks to her state's damage cap statute, she was only entitled to $500,000.
- The manufacturer may also be liable. In addition to the bus driver, the owner of the bus company, or the public agency responsible for operating the bus, you may also have a case against the bus manufacturer. If your injury can be linked to a mechanical failure, the bus manufacturer may be liable for defective manufacturing.
If you are injured while riding the bus or are involved in a bus accident, a personal injury attorney can help explain your legal options.