Yes, bus operators are responsible for passenger safety in California. In fact, they have a higher duty of care than other drivers. This is due to a legal requirement known as the common carrier law. Busses and other vehicles for hire are held to higher standards of care because they transport passengers for a living.
This higher standard of care is good news for anyone seeking compensation following a bus accident. However, success with these claims is never guaranteed. If you have been injured in a bus crash, let a Los Angeles personal injury attorney from Salamati Law evaluate your claim. We can advise you on your legal options following a bus crash.
What qualifies as a common carrier in California?
Not every driver for hire will qualify as a common carrier under state law. There are specific conditions these companies must meet for the common carrier doctrine to apply. The first of these conditions is the transportation company exists to transport individuals or goods.
Second, these legal entities must also advertise itself to the public as a transportation company. Finally, a company will qualify as a common carrier if they charge fees to transport people or goods from one place to another. Unless all of these conditions are met, a company does not qualify as a common carrier in California.
Some of the most common examples of common carriers include:
- Cab companies
Understanding the common carrier doctrine
Every person who operates a motor vehicle owes a duty of care to every passenger within their vehicle. This standard requires a driver to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. The duty for common carrier operators is much higher. According to state law, common carriers must use “the utmost diligence and care and for safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”
This means that a carrier must ensure their vehicles are safe to perform the duties for which it was hired. Common carrier drivers must pay attention to their passenger’s needs and warn them of any dangers. They must also protect them from dangers, including those that result from the actions of other passengers.
Common carriers also have a duty to avoid hiring drivers who are unsafe or unqualified. These companies must also regularly inspect their vehicles to ensure they meet basic safety standards.
The legal standard for bus accident claims
When you pursue an injury claim with the help of a Los Angeles bus accident attorney, your case will follow the same general path as any negligence case. Like with a car or truck accident, you must establish that the other party was negligent in the accident.
Negligence requires four specific elements: establishing a duty of care, showing the bus driver breached that duty, linking your injuries to that breach, and proving you suffered measurable damages. The important difference between bus accidents and other negligence claims is the duty of care involved. Because common carriers, as noted above, have a higher duty of care, it is typically easier to demonstrate that they have breached it.
Contact our team of Los Angeles bus accident lawyers
If you were injured in a bus accident in Los Angeles, you have the right to hold the bus company responsible. By filing a lawsuit, you could recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. Contact us at Salamati Law today for a free consultation.