Buses are a fairly safe mode of transportation in Seattle, and chartering a bus is certainly an efficient way to ferry groups of tourists from one location to another. As statistically safe as they are, however, accidents can still happen, and sometimes lead to insurance claims and lawsuits.
In the eyes of federal and most state laws, a bus is considered a “common carrier,” an entity whose business it is to move people or goods from one place to another for a fee. In addition to tour buses, school buses, commercial buses, taxicabs, commercial airplanes, cruise ships, and some trucks are included in this designation. Because they are responsible for the safety of passengers, common carriers must be conscientious and exercise the utmost diligence in regards to this obligation. Examples of negligence that often result in successful lawsuits against common carriers include:
- Poorly or inadequately maintained buses and equipment
- Overloaded or improperly loaded buses
- Bus operators who are overtired, under the influence of intoxicants, or inadequately trained
When negligence results in injuries, victims may sue for damages. However, if the bus driver was exercising a reasonable degree of care and the bus accident happened as the result of some other vehicle being driven recklessly, a court would most likely not find the bus driver negligent.
Determining Liability in a Tour Bus Accident
Any one of several different entities could be found liable in a tour bus accident including, the tour company, the bus company, even one of the various locations at which the bus stops. Sometimes, multiple parties could be held liable for contributory negligence if they had any part in causing the accident.
Tour companies, which hire bus companies with a documented history of safety violations or negligent activity, could share liability with the bus company if an accident ensues and injuries result. Likewise, bus companies have a duty to maintain reasonably safe buses in their fleet, employ drivers and operators who meet basic requirements, and generally demonstrate its fitness as a common carrier. If a passenger trips or falls at a tour destination after leaving the bus, the venue operator may be liable for the passenger’s injuries.