No matter where you live in the state of Florida, you’re well aware of the important role that Florida public transportation plays in society. In fact, you may rely on this mode of transportation to get to and from school, work, or the grocery store (and that’s just the start).
If you keep an eye on the local news, you’ll soon realize that bus accidents are more common than you ever thought. For example, here’s a recent story detailing what happened when a bus driver had a medical emergency at the wheel, endangering the safety of bus passengers.
With so many Floridians relying on public transportation, you may wonder who is responsible when an accident involving a bus occurs?
Who is responsible for a bus accident in Florida?
As a passenger on a bus, you put your safety and well-being in the hands of the driver, bus company, and other drivers who share the road with the bus.
Should you suffer an injury in a Florida bus accident, it’s critical to address the question of who should be held responsible for your damages.
Generally speaking, blame can be placed on one of the following parties:
- Bus driver: For example, if the bus driver has been on the road for too many hours or they’re under the influence of alcohol, they can be held responsible for the accident.
- Bus company: This typically comes into play if the accident results from a lack of or proper bus maintenance.
- Another driver: Other drivers have the potential to cause an accident, such as if a reckless driver cuts off the bus.
In some cases, one or all of these parties may have contributed to the accident, allowing you to seek compensation from multiple people and their insurance providers. For example, Florida insurance coverage requirements for public transit accidents include $200,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per incident, effective October 1, 2011.
One thing to keep in mind: if you were injured as a passenger on public transportation in Florida, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy does not apply. PIP may only apply if you were injured while you were in a vehicle that was hit by a public bus or if you were injured while riding on a school bus.
What is the “Common Carrier Law”?
The “Common Carrier Law”, is a U.S. law that holds public transportation vehicles to a higher level of responsibility than regular passenger vehicles. For example, buses must follow slower speeds on the roads. As they’re responsible for the safety of so many passengers on a daily basis, bus drivers must also pay full attention to driving, and refrain from conversations with bus riders.
In addition, most states have a maximum number of hours that drivers can operate public transportation vehicles, to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Accidents that involve violations of the “Common Carrier Law” can result in driver negligence, leaving the driver, the bus employer, and the bus owner legally responsible to any injured victims.
What does the bus accident investigation process look like?
Since 2016, public transit vehicles in Florida can come with on-board surveillance cameras that may capture bus accident evidence.
There’s a lot that goes into seeking compensation related to a bus accident. One of the most important steps is the investigation.
Your legal team at Fetterman & Associates, PA. will manage the bus accident investigation process, which can include things such as:
- Speaking with witnesses and other injured passengers.
- Requesting and reviewing the police report.
- Visiting the accident scene and examining the bus damage.
- Requesting access to inspect the bus for any mechanical defects.
- Reviewing any on-board video surveillance footage of the accident (in 2016, Florida governor Rick Scott signed a video surveillance bill for public transit systems).
- Reviewing documents kept by the bus company, such as the bus driver’s personnel file and maintenance records.
Every step in the investigation process will impact your injury claim, so it’s important to get it right the first time around.
How can you seek compensation for injuries in a Florida bus accident?
If you want to seek compensation after a bus accident, consult with an experienced West Palm Beach bus accident attorney who can guide you through the complex legal process. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, ongoing treatment, lost wages, and more.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be dealing with powerful insurance lawyers who work for the bus company. You don’t have to face them alone. Contact Fetterman & Associates, P. A. to give yourself the best chance at receiving full compensation.
With over 40 years of experience standing up for the rights of injured victims in Florida, we’ll take on the bus company, the driver, and any other drivers who may be responsible for your damages. Visit one of our offices in West Palm Beach or Port St. Lucie, contact us online, or give us a call to schedule your free consultation.