Can I Sue the City if I Was Injured on the Bus?
Every day, thousands of people board city buses in Austin, Texas. For some, buses provide their only source of transportation. Others ride them for convenience or to reduce their carbon footprint. Whatever the reason, bus riders trust that they will arrive at their destinations safely and without incident.
So, what happens if you board a city bus and end up injured? Can you sue the city?
Filing a personal injury claim after a bus accident can be complicated. Who’s responsible and proving it are similar to being involved in a regular car accident. But there are also many differences. It can be a challenge, so work with a bus accident attorney with a record of success.
At Rodman Law Office, I apply my experience as a former insurance defense attorney to my work as a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney in Austin, Texas, and in Travis County, Williamson County, and Hayes County. If you’ve suffered from someone else’s negligence and need legal representation, give my office a call today.
How Are Passengers Injured While Riding a City Bus?
Bus accidents often occur just like regular car accidents. Drivers are distracted, speeding, fail to yield the right of way, follow the vehicle ahead of them too closely, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or other acts of negligence. However, when a bus driver is negligent, passengers may pay a steeper price than they would have had they been riding in a regular motor vehicle.
Some of the unique contributing factors to city bus passenger injuries include the design of the bus, featuring row after row of seats and metal poles. Seats are open, undivided, and usually face more than one direction.
They also don’t have seatbelts, headrests, arms, and other safety devices you would have as a car passenger. Upon impact, there is nothing to secure you in place or cushion the blow. If you end up in the aisle, you could be crushed by other passengers being flung in all directions. If you’re standing and lose your grip on the pole or rail, you could end up anywhere.
It’s not just you or other passengers you need to worry about causing harm upon impact. The possessions brought on board by passengers are not secured. Therefore, those items may be sharp or heavy and can strike you in an accident.
What Are My Legal Options?
It’s important that you name all parties who are liable in a bus accident as defendants in your personal injury lawsuit, beginning with the bus driver. Bus driver negligence is usually related to those accident issues addressed previously, but it can also be due to issues related to “common carriers,” distinct from non-commercial vehicles.
For example, your driver may not have had sufficient training or passed driver competency tests. Your driver may have worked too many hours, rendering them overtired which compromises their ability to operate a huge bus safely. The driver may have failed to adequately inspect the bus before getting behind the wheel, which is part and parcel of their job.
The driver is operating the bus in the scope and agency of the city government, which makes the city a party to negligence as well. The city is responsible for providing quality training and ensuring the competency of its drivers to account for the safety of passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicles on the roadway.
If the accident is related to a product or mechanical failure, such as failing brakes or a faulty steering system, the manufacturer of defective parts and those responsible for maintaining the bus may also be named as defendants.
What Do I Have to Do to Sue the City?
Suing the city for a bus accident begins with notifying the city of your intent to do so. Texas law requires that personal injury lawsuits be filed within two years of the date of the accident that caused the injuries. That statute of limitations also applies when you are suing the city. However, you must submit notice to the city, because it is a governmental entity, within six months of the accident.
You may think six months sounds like plenty of time, but it’s not. The required notice must include specific information that requires time to gather and document. This is why it is vital that you consult with a bus accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
There are also no automatic settlements with the city. You will be required to prove that the city owed you the highest degree of care as a passenger on its bus, provide evidence that it breached that duty, and document the damages you suffered as a result. These are the elements of proving the city’s negligence.
Proving Negligence & Government Immunity
Proving negligence may not be as complicated as other hurdles you face when you sue a governmental entity.
Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, governmental entities can be held liable for various tort claims, such as personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, just like any individual or non-governmental entity would be. However, there are certain limitations and procedural requirements that must be followed when bringing a claim against a governmental entity. These may include filing a notice of claim within a specific timeframe, providing evidence of negligence, and complying with other statutory requirements.
It's important to note that, while state laws apply to bus accidents, there may be local laws that affect how they are applied. Working with a personal injury attorney who knows the applicable laws and regulations is crucial to your ability to prevail in a lawsuit that names the city as a defendant.
Need Representation? Contact My Firm Today
No matter who you sue for damages you suffered in a bus accident in Austin, Texas, or the surrounding area, you will have your work cut out for you. Any individual, governmental entity, or business you sue will fight to avoid compensating you.
If you want to level the field, contact me today. As a former insurance defense lawyer, I can anticipate all the defensive plays and strategize your case accordingly. Call Rodman Law Office now for a free case consultation.