The Elements of a Bus Accident Lawsuit

If you have been involved in a bus accident, it’s important to understand that bus accident lawsuits are typically negligence cases. You will need to prove each element of common law negligence, including duty, breach, causation, and damages, to succeed in your case. Consider consulting with a bus accident lawyer to guide you through the legal process.

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The Elements of Negligence


Every driver owes a duty of care to other drivers on the road. A bus driver owes a special duty of care to members of the public that they transport. The driver must ensure their passengers do not get hurt on their trips. The bus driver also owes a duty of care to anyone else on the road, including other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The bus driver and the company also must maintain safe equipment. If the bus has defects, the driver and the company must ensure the vehicle does not get onto the road. They must fix defects if they have prior knowledge of them.

A driver’s duty of care also covers injuries that occur outside of the bus. The bottom line is that the duty of care begins when the driver picks up a passenger and drops them off at their destination.


A breach happens when someone fails to uphold their duty of care to others. For example, if a bus driver fails to take care of driving responsibly and hurts someone, they will be responsible for paying for their injuries. Similarly, if a bus company fails to maintain its vehicle, it can be liable to anyone who suffers harm due to its failure to do so.


Causation is often one of the most challenging elements of a negligence case to prove. Insurance companies work overtime to avoid paying insurance settlements. That means adjusters will try to discredit your claims. They may claim that your injuries did not directly result from the accident or that some intervening cause was actually to blame. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can protect your rights.


Finally, an accident victim must prove damages to win their case. Even if you can prove each of the first three elements of negligence, if you did not suffer any losses related to the accident, you cannot recover compensation because there are no damages to compensate you for.

Common Carrier Duty of Care

A driver that transports the public for hire has a duty of care to ensure their passengers are not injured. This is the common carrier rule.

To qualify for the common carrier status, the service provider must show:

  • The company has a regular place of business. A regular place of business is any bona fide place where business transactions take place. Examples of a regular place of business can include a factory, warehouse, or office. As for bus drivers, a regular place of business can consist of a bus depot or station.
  • The company advertises its business to the public. Public transportation companies qualify for common carrier status because they advertise their services, even if it may not be immediately apparent.
  • The company charges a fee for its services. City and charter buses have a fare associated with receiving their services.

Potential Defendants In a Bus Accident Lawsuit

Bus accident cases can get complicated. Most of these accidents have many potentially responsible parties at the center. It is important to name each defendant. By naming each possible defendant, accident victims can ensure they are in the best position to fully recover for all their damages after a lawsuit.

Potentially responsible parties in bus accident claims can include:

  • The bus driver
  • The bus company that employs the driver and owns the vehicle
  • The bus manufacturer
  • The company that maintains the vehicles
  • Other drivers
  • The owner of the land where the bus stop is
  • The city, state, or local government

What Is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a legal theory that allows plaintiffs to sue companies if their employees acted negligently and caused an injury. Companies typically have “deep pockets” or significant financial resources that individual plaintiffs can never access. If your losses or injuries exceed the driver’s insurance limits, naming the company as a defendant can help you get the financial recovery you need for full compensation.

To prove that a company is vicariously liable, you must show that:

  • The bus driver was working at the time of the accident.
  • The driver was an employee of the bus company when the accident happened. If the driver was an independent contractor, the company might not face liability for causing the accident.

Potential Claims Against Companies

Plaintiffs may have a cause of action to collect compensation from bus companies if their drivers do not act carefully during trips. Bus companies must keep their vehicles safe. They must ensure that the vehicles carry the correct insurance on their buses and hire upstanding professionals to work for them.

Negligent Hiring

Companies must hire qualified and dependable professionals, especially if they are common carriers. Bus companies must carefully review each employment application and ensure they can safely handle a vehicle the size of a bus.

The kinds of qualifications that bus companies may look for in employees can include:

  • A clean driving record.
  • A criminal record free from charges or convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Proper CDL license.

Failure to Supervise

Bus companies have a duty to supervise their employees. This goes for anyone that works in the company: the drivers, maintenance workers, receptionists, and all other employees.

Examples of lapse of supervision or lack of supervision of employees by a company can include:

  • The company does not address issues it knows or should be aware of, and someone gets hurt.
  • The company failed to learn of a driver’s failure to meet company standards.
  • The bus depot is poorly maintained.

Negligent Retention

Negligent retention is a cause of action that a plaintiff may have against a company for keeping an employee after discovering that they are unqualified or underqualified for their position. Companies must continuously evaluate their employees and qualifications and make changes if they see fit.

Inadequate Maintenance

Bus companies routinely inspect their vehicles. Companies must also hire qualified mechanics to inspect vehicles. A bus company may face legal liability if it fails to maintain its vehicles properly. Companies must also keep detailed records of their maintenance checks.

How Long Do I Have to File a Bus Accident Lawsuit?

The deadline to file a bus accident claim depends on the state. The deadline to file a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations vary based on the type of case. In bus accident cases, most states allow plaintiffs 1-3 years to file a lawsuit.

If the city, state, or local government is to blame for your injuries, you may be entitled to relief, but there is an uphill battle when suing a government entity. Most states require a notice claim if you intend to sue. If you fail to do so, you may lose your ability to sue. The statute of limitations does not begin until after filing the notice of your intent to sue.

What Injuries Are Common In a Bus Accident Lawsuit?

Every case is unique. No two plaintiffs suffer the same sorts of injuries. However, the sheer size of buses can cause devastating injuries.

Common injuries in bus accidents can include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Concussions and other head traumas
  • Paralysis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Amputation
  • Cuts, scrapes, and bruises
  • Spinal cord injuries

You need to get proper medical treatment for all injuries you suffer immediately.

What Damages Are Available in a Bus Accident?

There are three general categories of damages in bus accident cases. The three kinds of damages are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are tangible losses that an accident victim suffers. These losses are typically easy to prove, but accident victims may not know what compensation they are entitled to.

Economic damages can include:

  • Current and future medical bills and repayment for the cost of ongoing treatments
  • Current and future lost income
  • Lost earning capacity (this refers to the inability to return to the same type of work)
  • Property damage

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damage is intangible damage that results from a bus accident. It is usually more difficult to prove these damages than economic damages. Despite the difficulty victims face as they try to prove these damages, each accident victim is entitled to receive compensation for them.

Examples of the non-economic damages you may recover include:

  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not widely available. The availability of punitive damages is dependent on the state. Many states limit how much money plaintiffs can recover if they receive a punitive damages award.

These damages apply if the defendant acted wildly outrageously or in a manner that courts wish to deter others from acting in the future.

How Can a Bus Accident Attorney Help Me?

Getting the compensation you deserve after a bus accident lawsuit is usually tricky for a person not represented by counsel. Having an attorney working on your behalf can significantly increase the odds of you having a larger settlement amount that addresses your losses thoroughly. An experienced attorney can help you in the following ways:

Negotiate With the Insurance Company on Your Behalf

Most civil cases begin with settlement negotiations with the insurance company. After filing a police report, you should report the accident to your insurance company to comply with your policy. The other driver and their employer will also file a report with their insurance company.

You may hear from their insurer asking for a statement about your side of the story, but it is not a good idea to speak with opposing insurance companies without speaking to an attorney first.

In bus accident cases, defendants usually have massive insurance companies working for them. An unrepresented accident victim will likely have trouble taking on these giants. If you find yourself in a bus accident lawsuit, you need an attorney working on your side.

Investigate the Cause of the Accident

Experienced attorneys will investigate the accident independently of the police report and the insurance company. You win civil lawsuits based on the facts, so your attorney should have a strong command of the facts before beginning your case. Your attorney knows what to look for and what evidence to collect at an accident scene.

Identify Each Potentially Responsible Party

A legal team can help you find the parties that are responsible for causing your accident. There are many possible defendants in bus accident cases, so having an experienced legal mind working on finding everyone who should pay for your injuries is essential.

Speak With Debt Collectors and Hospital Billing Departments for You

Your attorney and their team can field calls from debt collectors from the hospital medical billing department and other debt collectors related to the accident. After a bus accident, you may receive letters and phone calls from debt collectors. This correspondence can be so stressful that it can compromise your physical recovery. You can rely on your legal team to take that stress off you so you can focus solely on healing.

Help You File a Lawsuit

Civil lawsuits, including bus accidents, involve various procedural rules. Following each procedural rule carefully can protect your legal claims from dismissal on technical grounds. A knowledgeable accident attorney can help you ensure that each procedural rule is complied with and your interests are protected.

Contact a Bus Accident Attorney Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Bus Accident cases near Tampa area.
Tatiana Boohoff, Bus Accident Attorney in Tampa.

There is no reason for you to face the aftermath of a bus accident alone. If you or a family member has suffered injuries or other losses in a bus accident, call an attorney in your area and create a legal team that will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.
Waiting to retain a personal injury lawyer in Tampa or trying to handle your case yourself may obtain far less compensation than you deserve.

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Boohoff Law, P.A. — Auto Accident Lawyers – Tampa Office

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Tampa, FL 33603
Phone: (813) 725-5606

April 14, 2023
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