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What happens if I’m hurt on a Metro bus?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Bus Accidents |

If you live in Seattle, chances are you take public transportation at least occasionally. Though, while riding, you may wonder what would happen if you were injured on a Metro bus. Operated by the county, Metro buses serve hundreds of thousands of riders every single day. And, unfortunately, bus accidents can and do happen.

Are bus accidents common here?

Bus accidents are actually surprisingly common in Seattle, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. For example, in 2020, there were over a thousand bus accidents, or about 2 or 3 a day, but only about 150 involved a Metro bus. Bus accidents caused 11 fatalities and over 300 injuries.

Options after a Metro bus accident

If you are hurt on a Metro bus, you may have several options, but each will depend on the circumstances of the bus accident. On a Metro, you may have a claim against King County.

As the owner and operator of Metro buses, the county could be held liable for your bus accident injuries, if those injuries were caused by Metro’s negligence (or the county’s negligence). The most common examples are poorly trained bus drivers, poorly maintained buses, speeding, etc. As a result, you could likely sue the county and Metro for damages.

Sovereign immunity

Unfortunately, suing a government and a government entity is not as easy or straightforward as suing a negligent driver. As a government entity, King County has sovereign immunity. This means that King County cannot be sued unless it consents to be sued or waives its immunity by law.

Washington does have a sovereign immunity waiver, which allows you to sue the government for negligence, like bus accidents. For example, if you are involved in a Metro bus accident, you have 3 years to file a notice of claim with King County after an accident, and then, you must wait 60 days before filing a lawsuit. And, in that lawsuit, you will have to prove that it is acting in a governmental capacity and not a proprietary capacity when the bus accident occurred.

Damage caps

King County also has damage caps for negligence lawsuits. This limits the amount you can recover for your bus accident injuries to $1 million per person and $2 million per occurrence for personal injury or property damage claims. Even if your damages are higher, your damages are capped at those limits.