In the past 20 years bus ridership has increased by approximately 35 percent nationwide. The contributing factors for the increase are several. The improvements in bus and other transit systems, especially in metropolitan areas is the first. Second, a more affordable means of transportation than driving in many cases. Third is an increase in environmental awareness and the desire to reduce carbon emissions. Florida is no exception. With more people riding buses, on roads and highways, the number of bus accidents and injuries has also increased.
Classification of Buses
Commercial bus companies are considered common carriers in Florida. They are basically divided into three categories: commuter buses, long distance transportation buses and charter buses. School buses are an exception which is not covered in this article.
Commuter buses generally travel at lower speeds and make frequent stops whereas long distance transports and charter buses travel on highways at higher speeds. Accidents with injuries involving commuter buses are often collisions between the bus and another vehicle, a bus and a pedestrian, or a person injured while boarding, riding or exiting the bus. Accidents involving long range buses and charter buses often occur at high speeds and can be catastrophic. They are often high speed collisions involving multiple vehicles, with the bus leaving the road and rolling over. Highway bus crashes often cause multiple injuries and fatalities.
Determining Responsible Parties
Buses are owned by either county or municipal governments or by private bus companies. As common carriers they are expected to provide safety beyond what is considered reasonable by the people who rely on them. Negligence by a common carrier is considered a misdemeanor and carries with it a $1000 fine.
In the case of an injury or wrongful death involving a bus, the bus company or government entity may be held liable. When a county or municipal government is involved, the Florida Tort Claims Act permits people to file a suit against the public transportation system. In these cases, certain protocol must be followed. The law restricts the amount of damages and legal costs that may be recovered and also places a four year time limit on filing. If the plaintiff received compensation from their health care provider for injuries received in the accident, the provider may try to claim a portion of the settlement against the bus company or government.
Determining fault in a bus related accident often involves unraveling a complex tangle of facts and finger pointing. There may be one or many contributing factors involved. The bus companies and government entities have powerful legal teams working to diffuse the blame and direct it elsewhere. An experienced public transportation attorney will have the resources to accurately reconstruct the accident and determine where the contributing negligence truly lies.
Dolman Law Group has the attorneys and the resources to take the case all the way through the court system to recover the true value of the case for the victim. This is unlike many settlement mills that take the easy path and settle for way below the actual value of the case. The transportation injury attorney realizes how much a debilitating injury may cost over a lifetime of medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages, diminished quality of life and more.
If you or someone you care about was injured in a bus accident call the Dolman Law Group today and speak to an experienced auto accident attorney at no upfront cost to you. Remember to call (727) 451-6900 now as the window of opportunity may close.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765