Municipal transit authorities, regional, and national bus lines are responsible for transporting their passengers safely. When a bus accident occurs, multiple parties could jointly share the responsibility for paying damages to the injured passengers or the families of any person killed in a passenger bus accident. Parties responsible for paying damages to the injured will depend on numerous legal factors. However, an injured person could seek compensation from the bus driver, the busing company, the trip operator (if a different entity from the company which owns the bus), governmental bodies if the accident involved a bus engaged in public transportation, equipment, and parts manufacturers, mechanics, and other motorists.
Even minor bus accidents could cause extensive injuries or kill a passenger because of the bus design. Depending on the bus, the vehicle is designed to transport about 60 people for a coach-style bus, and perhaps fewer for a bus used in public transportation. However, buses used in public transportation could have designated areas for standing passengers when the seats are taken. Moreover, a public bus must have room for wheelchair access.
All of the various configurations of buses contribute to injuries and deaths of passengers when an accident occurs. Coach buses are often not equipped with seatbelts. Instead, coach buses are constructed with the comfort of the passenger in mind. A sudden stop or swerve could cause a rollover accident, especially when the bus is operating on the highway at high speeds. Unbelted passengers could be thrown around the bus violently or be ejected through a window. Unsecured or poorly secured baggage could inflict injuries as well.
Public buses typically do not travel at highway speeds because they are used on city streets. However, passengers on a public bus are vulnerable to severe injury or death from rear-end collisions, frontal impacts, and so-called “T-bone” collisions. Public transit buses do not have seatbelts and often have hard, plastic seats and rails that could cause massive injuries in an accident.
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