Injured on a Bus or Streetcar, Who Is at Fault?

by Julien G. Lamothe

There are many reasons for taking a ride on a bus or a streetcar. You may prefer to have someone else doing the long-distance driving, or it may be impractical to drive to work. According to the American Public Transportation Association, it is ten times safer to travel by bus than drive your car. However, accidents can occur even in the safest conditions. If you are injured in an accident while riding on a bus or streetcar, it is essential to know how to direct your claim.

Bus Injury Statistics

In 2019, 9.9 billion people used public transportation in the United States. The latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show that 15,000 people were injured in 2018 in bus accidents, compared to 1.5 million automobile injuries.

Accident Fault

For insurance and compensation purposes, the party that caused an accident needs to be established for the insurance providers to determine who will be processing claims and making payments. Determining fault is left to the authorities, such as the police, to resolve.

The mode of transportation you are injured on dictates how you are compensated for your injuries, how long the process might take, and the steps you need to follow to ensure you get the remuneration you deserve.

Common Causes of Bus or Streetcar Accidents

• Inexperience
• Speeding
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Reckless driving
• Fatigue
• Engaged in distracted driving

The bus or streetcar company’s responsibility is to ensure their drivers are qualified and trained and that they exercise reasonable care when transporting people. Drivers should also have a driving record free of driving violations.

Injured on a Public Bus or Streetcar

A government body or transit authority generally owns public buses and streetcars. Liability can be challenging to determine in these cases. However, police reports with witness statements generally can determine the person or agency at fault. When accident fault is found, you can direct your claim toward the agency if their driver is determined to be negligent, or toward the person that caused the accident.

If maintenance problems, the driver, or other issues within the bus or agency caused the accident, they would be held responsible. The problem with injuries incurred on public transportation lies with the amount of time it can take for a claim to be investigated and finalized by the government’s insurance carrier.

Private Company Bus Injury

In Louisiana, private bus companies are deemed common carriers, owned by businesses considered to be entities, similar to how a person is regarded as an entity. They are required to carry insurance to cover injuries caused by the driver of the bus or mechanical failure of the vehicle.

Accident fault can be tough to prove. Privately-owned companies will use their legal and financial resources to reduce any claims against them if they are found by police to be at fault. If there is any doubt in determining fault, the company will likely engage in legal proceedings to minimize the financial damage they might sustain.

Finding Representation

As a person utilizing someone else’s services to get you to your destination, you trust them to ensure your safety. However, while it is the bus company’s responsibility to provide you with the safest journey, it is not always possible to guarantee that you will make it to your journey’s end unscathed.

Regardless of the documentation and fine print handed to you by the transportation companies, if you’re injured during your transport, you’ll likely find yourself in a fight for medical payments or other compensation.

For a smoother claiming process, consider finding legal representation that can help you wade through the complexities of the Louisiana legal system and direct you in the steps you should be taking.

If you have been injured in a bus or streetcar accident and believe you may have a case to pursue, contact the Lamothe Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced transportation attorneys will diligently fight for the compensation you need—and deserve—to cover the costs of recovery, loss of income, loss of consortium, emotional pain, and suffering and help you get back to your life.

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