Common Carrier Liability in Bus and Van Accidents
People from all walks of life throughout the Houston area rely on buses and vans for efficient and cost-effective transportation. Our kids take buses to school. Travelers use buses and vans to get to and from the airport. Many people use buses and commuter vans to get to work. Businesses, churches and other organizations use buses and vans for retreats, tours and events. Mass transportation serves an important role in our society and as a result, we place a significant amount of trust in common carriers.
This trust is about much more than just getting us where we need to be on time. When you break it down, we rely on bus and van operators to:
• Hire safe, trained and properly-licensed drivers who will obey the law and practice defensive driving
• Monitor their drivers for appropriate hours and sober driving
• Provide safe buses and vans that are not overcrowded and do not create risks from falling luggage and other hazards
• Properly maintain their vehicles to avoid problems with brakes, tires and other components
• Promptly fix any known issues to prevent them from leading to dangerous accidents
The Law Governing Common Carriers
In Texas, the law recognizes the trust that riders, pedestrians and other drivers place in these “common carriers.” In short, since we rely on bus and van operators to provide safe transportation, the law imposes a heightened duty on them to do so. Common carriers know they are involved in a line of business where lives are at stake; so they are held to a strict duty to take appropriate steps to ensure that no life-threatening accidents occur.
This is of particular importance given the size of buses and vans. Not only do they carry more passengers – putting more lives at stake – but they are also more difficult to maneuver, have more blind spots, and take longer to stop in the event of an emergency. The sheer mass of these large vehicles also tends to lead to much more severe collisions as compared to crashes between ordinary vehicles under similar circumstances.
Common carrier laws also apply to limousines, railroads and other companies that offer transportation for hire.
A Note on Government Buses
Many buses are operated under government authority, such as the Houston METRO. While private common carriers are subject to laws that make it easier for accident victims to recover for their losses, government entities actually enjoy additional protections that help insulate them from liability. This is not to say that individuals can never recover for injuries suffered in METRO and other government bus accidents. However, there are additional (and significant) hurdles to doing so.
Contact the Houston Accident Lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP Today
The Houston injury lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP can help you recover financial compensation for injuries suffered in accidents involving transportation for hire. We can use the law to your advantage in cases involving common carriers, and can help you navigate the red tape involved in pursuing a claim against a government agency. If you have been injured in a collision involving a bus or transit van, contact us today for a free consultation.