Bus Drivers and the Duty of Care

Every driver on the roadway owes their duty of care to others around them. This duty involves operating the vehicle safely and following all traffic laws. However, there is a heightened duty of care involved when it comes to bus drivers. Buses are considered common carriers, and this is where the added duty of care comes in.

What is a Common Carrier?

There are various types of passenger-carrying entities in this country that are considered “common carriers,” and this is important, particularly when it comes to the duty of care that drivers and companies owe others on the roadway and their passengers. Any person that goes into business for the purpose of carrying passengers from one place to another voluntarily takes on more responsibility than the average driver when they get behind the wheel of their vehicle.

This common carrier enhanced duty of care most certainly applies to bus drivers. This includes Interstate bus companies, city mass transit buses, school buses, buses that take individuals to and from destinations similar to a taxi, and more.

bus drivers duty of care in a bus accident claim

How Does a Common Carrier’s Duty of Care Affect a Bus Accident Claim?

Common law defines the rules that apply to common carriers in the US. Bus drivers, and other common carriers, are required to use the utmost care and diligence when working to ensure the safety of their passengers. This heightened standard of care goes beyond the typical negligence doctrine that is applied to personal injury claims.

Even though the same concept of negligence will apply to a bus accident claim, it is much more likely that bus drivers and bus companies will be found to have acted unreasonably under crash circumstances. Bus drivers and bus companies have a duty to use more than just reasonable care that most drivers are expected to uphold. In other words, there may be some things that are not considered negligence when an ordinary driver does them but would be considered negligence by a bus driver.

The duty of care applied to common carriers includes regularly inspecting and maintaining the vehicle, using the utmost care when following traffic laws and operating the vehicle safely, companies ensuring that drivers are properly trained and have a clean background, and more. 

Various regulations apply to carriers, depending on the type of bus and jurisdiction. State law typically applies to school bus drivers as well as smaller buses that operate intrastate. However, any bus that operates interstate for the purpose of carrying passengers, such as Greyhound or Megabus, falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Recovering Compensation After a Bus Crash

Any individual who sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of a bus driver or bus company needs to work with a skilled California bus accident attorney as soon as possible. There are likely various types of compensation available, but there will still need to be an insurance claim filed and possibly even a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. 

Some of the types of compensation that may be available include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Compensation for all medical bills related to the crash
  • Loss of quality of life damages
  • Pain and suffering losses
  • Lost income for time away from work
  • Out-of-pocket expenses the person incurs
  • Wrongful death damages if someone loses their life 

For expert legal help with a personal injury claim, contact the Santa Ana personal injury attorneys at Callahan & Blaine.