Public transportation plays an important role in the lives of many Californians. Busses allow individuals to go about their daily business without the hassle or expense of owning, operating and maintaining a car. They also provide important opportunities for disabled members of the community to get around. Along with these benefits, busses pose some very significant risks to the health and safety of their riders, pedestrians and the vehicles they share the road with. At The Law Offices of of Schurmer & Wood we regularly represent individuals throughout Ventura & Oxnard who have been injured in accidents involving buses and want you to know that we are here to help.
Simply put, if you have been injured in a collision involving a bus, you may be entitled to compensation and should consult with an experienced, talented personal injury attorney as soon as possible because there are a number of issues that must be addressed before you will be able to resolve your case.
The first step in resolving your case is determining legal responsibility for the accident. Doing so will allow the claim to be submitted and ultimately litigated against the correct party.
If you were a passenger in a bus or automobile and the accident was caused by a private citizen, your claim will be submitted to and handled by their insurance. Working with an attorney in these situations is extremely important as these accidents often cause injuries to multiple innocent parties and may require pro-rata settlements with the liability carrier if there is not enough insurance to go around. You may also have to submit a claim to your own auto insurance under your UM/UIM coverage.
However, if you were a pedestrian stuck by a bus, a driver or passenger in a vehicle struck by a bus or a passenger in a bus who was injured as a result of the driver’s negligence or a defect in the bus, you will want to determine whether the bus was a common carrier or private carrier.
Public transportation providers are typically referred to as “Common Carriers.” Common Carriers are generally defined as railroads, airlines, or businesses that offer public transportation, customarily transporting property and individuals from one location to another and offering services for the hire to the general population. Simply put, busses that are owned and operated by the city, county or state are common carriers.
A carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.
While the language of the code section is a little complicated, it simply means that bus owners and operators must do everything in their power to provide safe rides to their customers. Because safely transporting members of the public is so important, the Civil Code also lays out a number of other rules to protect the public
As a result of these laws, an important distinction must be made between common carriers (publicly owned busses) and private carriers (privately owned busses). Common carriers owe a heightened duty of care to their passengers and pursuing a claim against them may be more advantageous than a claim against a private carrier.
These companies operate their services for profit and are subject to commercial insurance regulations. If you are injured in an accident involving a private carrier you will most likely submit your claim to a commercial liability insurance company.
Regardless of who is responsible for the accident, injured individuals are entitled to receive compensation for their medical expenses, property damage (if appropriate), lost wages and pain and suffering. Working with one of the experienced Oxnard & Ventura bus accidents attorneys at The Law Offices of of Schurmer & Wood you can be sure that you will receive the compensation you are entitled to. Please call us today to discuss your bus accident case, we are here to help!