Millions of us take buses to get around. Whether it’s to commute to work, send our children to school, or go on a long-distance trip, we trust we will arrive at our destinations safely. But that doesn’t always happen. News stories about major bus accidents are common. What’s more, they often result in catastrophic injuries and deaths to many of those involved.
If you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in a bus accident, call The Dominguez Firm right away. During this difficult time, you need an experienced bus accident attorney by your side. The sooner we can start working on your case, the better your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation you’re entitled to. Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today.
Below you’ll find out more information about California bus laws and what your rights are if you’re injured in a bus crash.
Are Bus Drivers Governed By Different Laws Compared to Car Drivers? Yes: CA CC 2100
Yes, bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care because they are transporting passengers. Legally, public and private transportation companies are classified as common carriers. That means they transport people for a fee. Common carriers are governed by California Civil Code 2100, which states, “A carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”
However, that doesn’t mean bus drivers or the companies they work for are always at fault in an accident. For example, if a drunk driver crashed into a bus, the bus driver and their employer would not be to blame, the driver would, despite of this law.
Who Am I Suing for My Bus Accident Injuries?
To answer this, we have to look at the circumstances of a particular bus accident. You (legally known as the plaintiff) could be suing more than one defendant. Unlike most car accidents, the list of possible defendants is much larger:
- The bus driver
- The bus company that employs them
- The bus maintenance company
- If the bus is leased, the leasing agency
- If the bus was defective, the bus or parts manufacturer
- If the accident happened because of road defects, the municipality or state where the accident occurred.
As you can see, bus accidents are more complicated than car accidents. These are not the kind of claims you want to take on by yourself, especially if you suffered serious injuries.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for My Bus Accident Injury?
That depends on the type of bus you were on when your accident happened. The time limit, legally known as the statute of limitations for your bus accident claim is two years from the date of your accident injury. If you suffered your accident on a public bus, you only have six months from the date of your injury to file your claim. A claim against a government entity has a much shorter statute of limitations. There is one exception to these time limits. If the bus accident victim was a minor, these time limits don’t start until they reach the age of 18.
Whether you have two years or six months, don’t wait to file your personal injury claim. Bus accident claims are complex and can involve multiple defendants. The sooner you involve The Dominguez Firm, the better. If you wait:
- Vital evidence can be lost which greatly harms your case.
- Defense attorneys will question the seriousness of your injuries if you wait.
- If you wait several months or more than a year, defense attorneys may try to prove your injuries weren’t due to your bus accident at all.
Are Bus Drivers Limited As to the Number of Hours They Can Drive? Yes: CA VC 21702.
Yes, there’s a California law that addresses the number of hours bus drivers can be behind the wheel. They must adhere to California Vehicle Code 21702which limits their hours. “No person shall drive upon any highway any vehicle designed or used for transporting persons for compensation for more than 10 consecutive hours nor for more than 10 hours spread over a total of 15 consecutive hours.”
That means bus drivers are limited to 10 straight hours in a day or 10 hours over a 15 hour period. After that, they can’t drive again until an 8 hour rest period has passed.
Do Bus Drivers Have to Stick to Different Speed Limits? Yes: CA VC 22406.
According to CA Vehicle Code 22406, “No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:
- A passenger vehicle or bus drawing any other vehicle.
- A school bus transporting any school pupil.”
So unlike those of us in passenger vehicles, bus drivers can’t go over 55 miles an hour on any highways.
What Does the Law State Regarding Stopped School Buses in California? CA VC 22454
VC 22454 clearly states drivers can’t pass a stopped school bus if its red lights are flashing, “(a) The driver of any vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus equipped with signs as required in this code, that is stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading any schoolchildren and displays a flashing red light signal and stop signal arm…, shall bring the vehicle to a stop immediately before passing the school bus and shall not proceed past the school bus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm, if equipped with a stop signal arm, cease operation.”
If the school bus is stopped on a two-lane road, drivers traveling in either direction must stop. Besides it being the law, it’s more important to remember that failure to stop puts children in grave danger. It can cause devastating injuries or even the death of a child.
Are California School Buses Required to Have Seat Belts? CA VC 27316
Currently, only newer school buses in California must be equipped with passenger seat belts. In 2018 former Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1798 which will require all California school buses to have seat belts… by 2035.
The existing law, VC 27316 addresses seat belts in school buses. “Unless specifically prohibited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all school buses purchased or leased for use in California shall be equipped at all designated seating positions with a combination pelvic and upper torso passenger restraint system, if the school bus is either of the following:
- Type 1, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, and is manufactured on or after July 1, 2005.
- Type 2, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, and is manufactured on or after July 1, 2004.”
As of right now, seat belts are only mandatory on school buses manufactured on or after July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2004 (depending on weight and seating capacity). As for a systemwide requirement, the law further states, (e) On or before July 1, 2035, all school buses in use in California shall be equipped with a passenger restraint system.”
I Lost a Loved One in a Bus Accident. Can I Sue Those Responsible?
If you are their legal next of kin, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible. Since this is a civil lawsuit, you would be entitled to damages, the legal term for financial compensation, for your loss. These can include:
- Loss of companionship, love, emotional support, sexual relations, and guidance
- Lost financial support the deceased would have provided
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
These damages are meant to compensate you for your financial and emotional losses. Note that even if the driver or other parties responsible are acquitted in criminal court, you can still file a claim in civil court against them.
See What The Dominguez Firm Can Do For You
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a bus accident, you can take legal action against those responsible. The experienced bus accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm are ready to help you during this difficult time. You can be certain the bus’s insurance company has high-powered attorneys representing them. You should do the same.
Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today. And as always, we stand by our promise: if there is no recovery, there is no fee!