This blog has previously touched on the term ‘common carrier’ and how it applies to bus accidents in Seattle. To refresh, a common carrier is any business or entity that transports goods or people from one place to another as its main business model. These entities generally owe a legal duty of care to their passengers, such as those who may be on a bus, whether it is a tour bus, a city bus, or a school bus. However, when someone is injured in a bus accident, how a victim can go about getting compensation may change depending on who owned the vehicle in question.
The main difference in ownership with regard to liability for accidents is going to be between private and government entities. Private companies, such as, say, a tour bus operator, may be liable for injuries occurring when their employees do not exercise reasonable care to protect their passengers or others on the road. These entities could be liable also if they are not adhering to government regulations that apply to drivers, vehicle maintenance, or other aspects of operating a common carrier.
However, the government operates some buses. This might include school buses in many cases, and metropolitan buses that transport people around a city like Seattle. When governmental entities are involved in civil suits, sometimes the rules change. For example, most governments and their employees may claim ‘sovereign immunity’ from civil suits by citizens. However, in many cases, these entities have laws that waive this right under certain circumstances. Plaintiffs suing a governmental entity will likely have to comply with different procedures in terms of timing and filing requirements, and may have a cap on the amount of damages that can be collected from the government.
Suing the government can be complicated and difficult, even if it is obvious that one of its employees is at fault for an injury. Those injured in a bus accident may wish to consider contacting an experienced Seattle injury attorney to determine who may be liable, and whether any restriction will apply to such a suit.