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Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

A Florida District Court issued an opinion addressing whether a School Board is liable for injuries a child suffered while walking to her bus stop. The case arose when a car hit the child while crossing the road to reach her school bus stop. In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the School Board (School) filed a motion for summary judgment asserting sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion, and the School appealed.

Sovereign or governmental immunity is a legal concept that protects federal and state governments from certain civil lawsuits. Under Florida law, individuals may commence a tort claim against the government if their employee’s actions caused the plaintiff’s damages. However, the statute only allows these cases in certain situations and imposes strict notice requirements and provides limitations to the damages one can recover against the government.

Typically, governmental entities may be liable if they create a “known, dangerous condition” that may not be readily apparent, and they have knowledge of the presence of individuals likely to suffer injuries. In those cases, the governmental entity has a duty to warn those who might suffer injuries or avert the danger. However, Florida courts have explained that the duty only applies in cases where the condition is “so serious and so inconspicuous” that it essentially amounts to a trap.

Tour companies frequently utilize buses, trolleys, and bikes to attract customers to their guided tours. While tour buses and trolleys are a great way to see interesting sights and attractions throughout South Florida, they are often more susceptible to accidents and serious injuries. Florida tour buses often make frequent stops to show passengers specific sites. These stops can cause other drivers to make sudden stops or try to pass the tour bus. Moreover, many tour buses and trolleys do not have safety belts or require their passengers to use them. This can lead to more severe injuries and even death. Those who suffer injuries after riding on a Florida tour bus or trolley should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

In some cases, tour bus accidents are unavoidable; however, they usually involve some element of negligence. After an accident, the company, the driver, or another entity may be liable to the injury victims. The law does not impose liability on a tour bus company for the mere fact that a passenger suffered injuries. Instead, recovering compensation requires the victim to prove that the company failed to take sufficient steps to protect their customers.

Courts will look to whether the tour bus company took reasonable measures to ensure the safety of their passengers. This includes evaluating whether the company inspected the vehicle, made repairs, trained their drivers, and followed traffic rules. Companies that shirk their responsibility may be held liable for any accidents and ensuing injuries.

Public buses provide the public with a necessary form of convenient transportation throughout many cities in Florida. While buses must undergo safety inspections and drivers must complete safety training, these vehicles are often involved in serious accidents. Filing a lawsuit against a city bus in Florida can present challenges to injury victims and their families. The state maintains specific laws that apply to lawsuits against public and governmental entities. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney can help accident survivors and their family members understand their rights to financial recovery.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compiles statistics regarding the rate of bus accidents in the state. According to their most recent reports, every year, nearly 63,000 accidents involve buses. Approximately 13% of fatal bus accidents involve intercity buses, 40% involve school buses, and 35% involve transit buses. For instance, local news sources reported that a Volusia County, Florida County employee suffered fatal injuries in an accident between a Voltran bus and a County pickup truck. Officials explained that the victim was driving a county vehicle when he hit the bus. The Highway Patrol stated that a preliminary investigation revealed that the bus was preparing to let passengers off the bus moments before the collision. In addition to the County driver, 14 of the 15 passengers aboard the bus were taken to local hospitals for injuries.

FMSCA reports that the leading causes of bus accidents involve:

In some Florida personal injury cases, either or both parties will rely on the testimony of an expert witness to help prove their case. Typically, expert witnesses are not needed. However, if the issues involved in a case are complex and beyond the common understanding of the jurors, then an expert witness may help the jury resolve these issues.

Florida law requires that parties disclose the names of the experts they will be calling. Additionally, the law requires that a party provides an overview of the witness’ expected testimony. A recent opinion released by a state appellate court discusses the ramifications if proper notice of expert witness testimony is not given.

According to the written opinion, the plaintiff was incarcerated at a county jail when he was injured in a bus accident. The plaintiff brought a personal injury claim against the county. The county initially did not plan on calling an expert witness. However, during pre-trial discovery, it was revealed that the plaintiff was involved in two other vehicle accidents and that he planned on calling an expert witness at trial. One of the accidents occurred after this bus accident but before the case went to trial, complicating the question of what caused the plaintiff’s damages. In light of the new information, the county then named an expert witness, who would testify solely to impeach the plaintiff’s medical expert.

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion highlighting the importance of complying with all of the procedural requirements in a South Florida personal injury lawsuit. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff did effectuate proper service on the government defendant and rejected the defendant’s appeal. However, the case should serve as a warning to would-be plaintiffs that even a single misstep may result in the dismissal of an otherwise meritorious case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident with a school bus. Believing the accident to be the fault of the school bus driver, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the bus as well as the school district that employed the driver. The plaintiff claimed that the school bus driver was negligent in operating the bus and that the school district was negligent in hiring the driver.

As is required under state law, the plaintiff set out to serve the defendants. The plaintiff hired a process-server, who went to the school district’s main building and inquired where he could deliver the service documents. The front-desk attendant directed the process-server to the HR department. Once at the HR department, the process-server met with the receptionist to the Deputy Superintendent. The receptionist called her superior, who instructed her to accept the service and said that she would come by later to pick it up. The process-server left the documents with the receptionist.

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In a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered whether a high school bus driver could be held strictly liable after she suddenly lost consciousness while behind the wheel. The driver was taking students back from a high school band competition when she experienced a sudden and unforeseeable loss of consciousness, causing the bus to roll over. Several passengers were injured and filed a lawsuit against the driver. After filing the lawsuit, the passengers argued that they were entitled to summary judgment in their favor and that the insurance company was liable for their injuries under strict liability.A state law required drivers to have motor vehicle liability insurance policies to “cover damages or injury resulting from a covered driver of a motor vehicle” who suddenly and unforeseeably becomes incapacitated. The passengers argued that the state law meant that they were not required to prove negligence when someone suddenly loses consciousness, and that the insurance company was strictly liable in those cases. The insurance company argued that the statute only meant that insurance had to be provided for those circumstances.

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A panel of the California Court of Appeals recently published an opinion in which they affirmed a state district court’s decision to set aside the dismissal of a personal injury case, which was previously dismissed after the plaintiff’s attorney failed to pay a change-of-venue fee and did not respond to the defendant’s motion to dismiss or attend the hearing that resulted in the dismissal of the case. On appeal, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s motion to set aside the initial dismissal was procedurally inappropriate, and she was not entitled to the relief that had been granted. In disposing of the appeal, the appellate court emphasized that procedural rules governing applications for relief or reconsideration of an order or judgment are designed in part to protect litigants from the undeserved harms that can result from attorney mistakes, and to give each person their day in court.

The Plaintiff Is Injured as a Passenger on a Private Bus Line

The plaintiff in the case of Gee v. Greyhound is a woman who was injured when the Greyhound bus on which she was riding was involved in a crash, According to her initial complaint, the bus driver was traveling at an excessive rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into other vehicles on the road and resulting in the plaintiff and at least 20 other passengers and commuters suffering serious injuries. After the accident, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the operator of the bus line as well as the bus driver, seeking damages as compensation for the expenses and loss she suffered in the crash.

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Parents and families remain devastated by last month’s tragic school bus accident in Tennessee that left six children dead and several others seriously injured when a speeding bus drove off-route and off the road into a tree and rolled on its side. Recent developments in the tragic story are generating more questions than answers and likely aggravating the contentious relationship between school authorities and the parents, who are upset that the bus driver was allowed to continue driving their children after warning signs that many say should have resulted in his being fired or at least investigated. The bus driver has since been arrested and charged with six counts of automobile homicide and reckless endangerment.

Parents Are Upset that Complaints about the Driver Were Not Addressed Before the Crash

According to a national news source, there were several written complaints filed by students, parents, and even school employees concerning the reckless driving of the man who was driving the bus before last month’s deadly accident. One student reported that he believed the man was intentionally trying to hurt the children by driving dangerously, and he told them that he did not care for their safety, causing some students to avoid riding that bus. These warnings did not cause authorities to suspend the driver or otherwise address the issue, leaving some parents angry.

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A panel of the California Court of Appeals recently published an opinion reversing a trial court’s entry of a judgment favoring the defendant in a case filed by a woman who was injured while boarding a shuttle bus operated by the defendant. The appellate court found that the lower court’s decision not to impose at least a duty of ordinary care on the defendant was not justifiable under the circumstances. Since the previous judgment in favor of the defendant has been reversed, the plaintiff’s claim will return to the trial court to proceed toward a settlement, trial, or other disposition.

Plaintiff Is Injured Boarding a Shuttle Bus to the Defendant’s Casino

The plaintiff in the case of Huang v. The Bicycle Casino was injured in a fall when she was pushed to the ground by other passengers as they all attempted to board a shuttle bus that was operated by the defendant as part of a promotion to attract customers to a casino. According to the facts discussed in the opinion, it was relatively common for there to be more passengers attempting to board the shuttle buses than there were seats available, which resulted in a chaotic boarding situation that the plaintiff alleged was the cause of her broken hip that she suffered when she was pushed to the ground. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking damages as compensation for her injuries.

The Trial Court Grants Summary Judgment to the Defendant on All Claims

After the plaintiff’s case was filed, the parties disputed the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant was providing transportation to the public as a “common carrier,” a designation that triggers a heightened duty to ensure passengers’ safety. The defendant successfully argued to the trial court that since the shuttle buses do not collect a fare, they should not be treated as a common carrier. The trial court found under the circumstances that the defendant only had a duty to provide ordinary care and that the plaintiff’s injuries were outside the realm of that duty. As a result of these findings, the trial court entered judgment for the defendant on all of the plaintiff’s claims, forcing her to file an appeal to continue her case.

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The Delaware Supreme Court recently released a decision in which they affirmed a lower court’s ruling that allowed a plaintiff to make a claim against the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage of a school bus for injuries she sustained when another vehicle hit her after she had been signaled by the bus driver to cross the street and board the bus. The decision noted that school buses play a unique role in American society and operate under a specific set of rules and regulations regarding how passengers and other vehicles must act while the bus is in operation. As a result of the recent ruling, the plaintiff will be compensated for her injuries from the PIP benefits that covered the school bus at the time of the accident.

The Plaintiff Is Injured by another Vehicle While Crossing the Street to Board the School Bus

The plaintiff in the case of State Farm v. Buckley was a student who intended to take the bus that was insured by the defendant to school on a day in March 2012. After the bus driver initiated the red flashing lights and stop sign to signal other vehicles to stop, the driver signaled the plaintiff to cross the street and board the bus. While she was crossing the street at the direction of the bus driver, another vehicle failed to stop and struck the plaintiff, causing injuries.

The Plaintiff’s PIP Claim with the Insurance Covering the School Bus Is Initially Denied

After sustaining her injuries, the plaintiff made an insurance claim with the defendant, who insured the school bus. Under Delaware law, PIP benefits are applicable to any occupant of a motor vehicle involved in an accident, as well as any other person injured in an accident involving the insured vehicle, other than an occupant of another vehicle. In response to the initial claim, the defendant refused to extend the PIP benefits to the plaintiff, stating that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by an accident that involved the covered vehicle.

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