Recently, a three-vehicle crash between a VIA bus, a sedan, and a pickup truck sent 5 people to the hospital, one of whom was in critical condition. According to law enforcement, the woman driving the sedan ran the stop sign at Schuwirth Road and Loop 1604, striking the bus, which then skidded into the pickup truck. While law enforcement assigns fault primarily to the sedan driver, very often buses do contribute to accidents that they are involved in. It is worth asking how this accident might have played out in terms of liability had the bus had passengers, whether or not the bus driver was the immediate cause of the crash.
Who Is Liable?
In the case of the Schuwirth Road accident, the bus driver was not found to have played a role in causing the accident, though in other states, that fact would not immediately insulate him or his employer from liability. Many states have what is called a “common carrier” provision in their personal injury laws, which holds a bus company (private or public) to a higher standard of care than would normally be expected of any one driver, but Texas does not have such a law, so an injured plaintiff must be ready to show negligence (if possible) by other means.
If there is reason to believe that the bus driver might be liable, it is worth noting that their employer might also be liable. Texas does observe a concept called respondeat superior, which states that if an employee commits a tort (basically the civil law version of a crime) while acting “within the scope of employment,” their employer is vicariously liable for any damages. The rationale is that the employer ought to have taken more care before allowing the employee to act for them.
Types of Damages
If you do believe that the bus company and its employee might be liable, there are several causes of action that you as an injured plaintiff might be able to prove. While obviously, medical bills are a paramount concern, you may also be able to recover economic damages such as lost wages. However, if negligence is provable, you may also be able to recover non-economic damages, which are damages that are less quantifiable or concrete than economic damages like medical bills. Examples might include loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium (loss of marital privileges).
Even if you turn out to be partially liable for your own injuries, you may still be able to recover. Texas law allows for what is called comparative fault, which holds that if a judge or jury holds you responsible for less than 51 percent of your own injuries, you can still recover from the defendant or defendants. Texas has abolished joint and several liability, which means that you can only recover as much from a defendant as they have been held liable. For example, if the bus company and another driver were each held 35 percent liable for your injuries, you would only be able to recover 35 percent from each defendant, not 70 percent from one defendant.
Call a New Braunfels Bus Accident Lawyer
While Texas does not have the strict common carrier laws that other states might, it is still eminently possible to hold a bus driver or company liable for injuries you have suffered. The dedicated New Braunfels bus accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready to try and help guide you through a legal process that can be very complex. Contact our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.