For environmental and quality of life reasons, there is a trend among commuters to take advantage of the benefits that mass transportation has to offer. You may be one of these commuters, whether your reason is being able to reduce your time wasted sitting in traffic, help reduce air pollution or reduce expenses from fluctuating gas prices.
While public transportation can be beneficial to many, its increased use also means an increase in the number of bus accidents that are being seen. Due to the size of buses, bus accidents tend to cause severe and often gruesome injuries. Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation show that in 2014, approximately 3,300 bus accidents–including school buses–occurred in this state. Out of these accidents, 18 caused fatalities and almost 50 caused serious personal injuries.
Understanding Common Carrier Law
In Texas, bus companies and their drivers are subject to state and federal regulations that regard the transportation of passengers under what is known as common carrier statutes. The term common carrier is a legal term that refers to individuals or companies that provide public transportation. This usually includes buses, trains, and taxis.
Under common carrier laws, bus drivers, taxi drivers, train conductors, and the companies they work for are held to a higher standard than you or one of your fellows drivers on the highway. Being that they are entrusted with transporting many individuals like yourself on a daily basis, they have an increased responsibility to act reasonably in the course of their duties.
Transportation companies are required to monitor their drivers, who must pass specific driving tests and be tested for controlled substance and alcohol use on an ongoing basis. Drivers must also adhere to regulations pertaining to the length of time they may drive before being required to take a mandatory rest period. The company must also:
- Maintain insurance
- Ensure that its vehicles are regularly inspected
- Make needed repairs to avoid putting their passengers at risk
Providing Proof of Negligence is on the Injured Party
Even with the common carrier requirements, the burden will fall on you to prove your personal injury was the result of negligence on the part of the driver or the bus company. Adding another layer of difficulty in your time of need, whether the bus is considered privately-owned or government-owned may mean there are different steps that need to be taken to protect your rights and establish their liability. You often have only a short window of time, usually, six months, to make a personal injury claim before you forfeit your right to compensation. It is extremely important to act fast when dealing with a public transportation company.
This is where having a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with public transportation injury cases will work to your benefit. With time being of the essence to protect your rights, they will move quickly to work toward establishing liability, handling the needed investigations of drivers and witnesses, and getting you fair compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and loss of income.