On January 3, 2017, a Google charter bus struck and killed Xiaolan Luo, a San Jose woman, on the campus of West Valley College in Saratoga, California. The bus traveling southbound, turning left from Fruitvale Avenue onto Athletics Way, according to the West Valley-Mission Community College District Police Department.
A 60 year-old woman was struck by and trapped under a Muni bus at Market and Kearny Streets, across from Third Street, on Monday, December 19, 2016, around 7 p.m. Suffering from severe leg injuries, first responders pulled the woman out from beneath the bus and took her to the trauma center at San Francisco General Hospital. The bus that struck the woman ran on Muni’s No. 9 San Bruno line, which services stops from downtown to Visitacion Valley.
Over 30 Passengers Also Injured When USA Holiday Tour Bus Slammed Into Rear Of Semi Truck
Palm Springs, CA (October 23, 2016) – Thirteen people died and several more suffered life-threatening injuries after a tour bus collided with a semi-truck early Sunday morning, October 23, 2016, while traveling on Interstate Highway 10 between the cities of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs in Riverside County, California. The tour bus belonged to USA Holiday, a Los Angeles-based tour company. The bus was carrying 44 people and was returning from Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, back to Los Angeles, CHP said. The bus driver was killed in the crash, and all passengers who survived the collision were injured.
Charter Bus Accident: Bus Carrying Chinese Tourists Crashes into Tree Near Yosemite, Teen Girl Killed And Another Passenger Critically Injured
Oakhurst, CA (September 26, 2016) – A charter bus carrying children and their chaperones from China crashed after visiting Yosemite National Park at around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2016, resulting the death of a thirteen-year-old girl. Four passengers had major injuries, including one person critically injured. Six other passengers had moderate to minor injuries.
Last November, a double-decker tourist bus crashed in Union Square. The bus accident seriously injured a bicyclist, multiple pedestrians and a number of people on the bus. It knocked down power lines and left San Francisco emergency workers scrambling to save the lives of six critically injured people.
Today’s question comes from Marisol S. in South San Francisco who asks “my friend was on the Greyhound bus that crashed on Monday. They say that the driver may have been too tired and fell asleep. Isn’t the bus company supposed to make sure that the drivers aren’t drunk or falling asleep? How can they let someone who is falling asleep drive a bus? What laws apply? What are her rights?”
Un autobus de Greyhound se volteo y choco en la autopista mojada en San Jose matando dos pasajeras e hiriendo mas de 12 el martes, Enero del 2016. El autobus salio de Los Angeles la noche antes y se dirigia a la parada en el centro de San Jose, San Francisco, y Oakland cuando el accidente ocurrio en la autopista 101.
A Greyhound bus flipped on its side and crashed on a rainy highway in San Jose, killing two female passengers and injuring more than a dozen others this morning. The bus left Los Angeles on Monday night and was heading to stops in downtown San Jose and San Francisco en route to Oakland when the bus accident occurred on Highway 101.
Article provided by The Dolan Law Firm
Recently in the news there has been a rash of public transportation accidents that have resulted in severe injuries and even death to passengers. In July, the operator of a MUNI light rail train in San Francisco blacked out at the controls and crashed into another train, injuring 47 people. Earlier this year in February, a BART train in Oakland sideswiped another train. Seven people were harmed in this accident.
When a passenger is hurt while using public transportation, the public transportation provider may be held legally responsible for the passenger’s injuries. Under the law, public transportation providers like city and state-operated trains, buses and light rail systems, are referred to as “common carriers.”
Common Carriers Owe a Higher Duty of Care
In general, common carriers refer to those who are in the business of transporting property or people for the general public. Types of common carriers include:
- City buses
- Elevators, escalators and moving walkways
- Ski lifts
Privately-owned transportation companies are also considered common carriers if they transport persons for hire. This includes private charter buses and tour bus services.
Civ. Code § 2103 states:
A Carrier of persons for reward must give passengers all such accommodations as are usual and reasonable, and must treat them with civility and give them a reasonable degree of attention.
Likewise, under Civ. Code § 2103, equipment must also be safe and fit for its intended purpose.
Under California law, common carriers are held to a higher standard of care than other transportation services or even other drivers. Civil Code §2100 states that common carriers “must use the utmost care and diligence for [passengers’] safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”
As part of this heightened standard of care, common carriers owe many duties to their passengers, including:
- The duty to safely transport passengers to their destinations
- The duty to provide a safe place for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle
- The duty to take reasonable steps to protect passengers from harm, including harm by other passengers
- The duty to provide safe vehicles and maintain the safety of those vehicles
- The duty to hire qualified employees and properly train those employees
The duties common carriers owe to their passengers may begin before the passenger ever steps foot on the bus, plane or other mode of transportation. So long as the common carrier has accepted a person as a passenger and the passenger has placed himself or herself in the carrier’s care, then the common carrier has a duty to take every reasonable step to ensure the safety of the passenger. Furthermore, the carrier’s duties do not automatically end once a passenger leaves the vehicle. The common carrier must take the passenger to his or her intended destination and leave the passenger in a safe place.
When a common carrier fails to uphold its duties to its passengers are injured as a result, the common carrier can be held legally liable for these injuries.
Common Carrier Accidents
Despite these higher standards, there are still an alarming number of accidents involving common carriers not just in California, but across the country. Why do these accidents occur?
Common carrier accidents may happen for many different reasons, including:
- Poor driver training
- Inadequate discipline of reckless drivers
- Driver fatigue
- Improperly maintained and decaying equipment
- Improperly maintained infrastructure
Most common carrier accidents relate to driver negligence, operator negligence or poor equipment maintenance.
Common carriers are responsible for the actions of their employees. Under the law, employees are agents of the common carrier and the business may be held liable for the negligence of its agents. Common carriers are required to properly train their employees and supervise their work. This includes properly disciplining or terminating drivers and operators who do not perform their work responsibly.
Common carriers also have a duty to maintain the safety of their equipment and vehicles. This means regularly inspecting the vehicles, performing routine maintenance and making necessary repairs. The equipment also must be up to current safety standards. Common carriers are liable when a known defect or a defect they should have known about results in injury to passengers.
Those who own and operate public transportation services are held to the highest level of care under California law. When these common carriers fail to uphold their legal duties and a passenger is hurt as a result, the injured person is entitled to compensation for those injuries. For more information on common carrier liability and public transportation accidents, contact an experienced attorney.
The NTSB concluded that bus companies with serious accident histories are using legal loopholes to have other companies register vehicles, essentially creating a legal front for improper operations.
Capricorn obtained a Texas license plate by having another bus company register the bus in California. Capricorn then used the California registration to acquire Texas plates. Robert Sumwalt, NTSB board member, told the Associated Press, “I think that this accident is the mother of all shell games.”
In its findings, the board wrote that the owner of Capricorn illicitly imported the 2005 Volvo bus involved in the rollover, and used a California registration law loophole to bypass federal and state requirements for vehicles to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
A Houston Chronicle article on the rollover accident said a bus made to meet U.S. safety requirements costs approximately $400,000; a bus made with lesser safety features can cost half of that.
The Chronicle also obtained records showing that Capricorn had previously settled, for $3.3 million, a lawsuit centered on a similar crash injuring 46 people.
After its investigation of the 2008 bus crash, the NTSB recommended that federal agencies crack down on the companies using buses that don’t meet safety standards, forcing them to either take the buses out of operation or go out of business.
Other NTSB proposals:
•· Create databases to enable state law enforcement to identify buses that don’t meet safety requirements in order to get the vehicles off the roads
•· Require bus companies to certify that all buses they lease or own meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; certification would be updated yearly
•· Use the internet to distribute safety videos and other media materials to carriers
Protecting yourself from bus company negligence
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus crash, contact a San Francisco bus accident attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your best available legal options.