Who is liable after a bus accident?
Bus accidents differ substantially from accidents involving passenger vehicles. Thus, the laws that govern bus accidents differ from those that govern car accidents. In New York, bus drivers owe their passengers a duty of care as a common carrier. A common carrier is an individual who is responsible for providing public transportation services. As common carriers, bus companies are subject to federal and state regulations. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that common carriers are held accountable for the health and safety of their passengers. For example, bus operators have a responsibility to maintain safe exits and entryways for the passengers. In addition, bus companies must ensure routine maintenance of their buses and monitor and rectify design and manufacturing flaws they discover.
After being injured in a bus accident, it is important to determine the type of bus involved. There are four main types of buses that operate in New York City-public buses, private buses, tour buses, and school buses.
Public buses, which include buses operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are an integral part of New York public transportation. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York Transit Authority are responsible for the largest transportation network in North America. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, over seven hundred million passengers commute by city buses each year.
Private bus companies such as Greyhound, Peter Pan, and Bolt bus operate local routes in New York City and long-distance routes from New York City to other metropolitan cities. In addition, public entities often hire private bus companies to operate on their behalf. For example, school districts often contract with private bus companies to transport passengers to and from school.
According to data provided by the New York State Comptroller, sixty-six million tourists visited New York City in 2019. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the city streets are full of tour buses. However, tour buses pose a unique threat to passengers. Frequent stops increase the risk of injuries to passengers. Thus, New York state has adopted a special licensure requirement for the operators of double-decker and other sightseeing buses within the city.
School buses are an essential element of any residential area and New York is no exception. New York City is home to one of the largest school districts in the country with over one million students studying in the public school system. The New York State Department of Transportation defines a school bus as a vehicle responsible for the transporting of passengers under the age of twenty-one to and from school. School is defined as any academic, vocational, or religious service or instructional institution. Thus, school buses are responsible for transporting students to public schools, private schools, school programs, and community residences as defined by Section 1.03 of the Mental Hygiene Law.
Who else may be liable?
Bus accidents are often the result of negligence on behalf of the bus driver. However, the bus driver is not the only one responsible for ensuring the safety of their passengers. Bus companies have a duty to hire and train qualified workers. Therefore, if you are injured as a result of negligent hiring, the bus company may be liable. Moreover, manufacturers of buses and safety equipment have a duty to ensure the safety of the products they sell. Thus, if a flaw in the design or manufacturing of the bus or its equipment contributed to the accident, the bus manufacturer may be liable. Further, another motorist or pedestrian may have contributed to the accident. Consequently, it is important to contact an attorney to discuss who may be liable for your injury and ensure your case is filed in accordance with the statute of limitations.
Statute of Limitations
In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years. However, if the party you are suing is a government entity, you need to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the injury, failing which you will lose your legal right to file a lawsuit. Thus, if you are injured in a bus accident you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
If you sustain an injury as the result of a bus accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at TonaLaw. Schedule a free, confidential case evaluation by calling 833-866-2529 (833-TONALAW).