Most of the time, when one hears about people being injured on a bus, they assume there has been an accident. However, recently, one San Antonio man was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of the stabbing of another man in October 2017, aboard a VIA bus. This is obviously a very unusual event, but it can sometimes confuse people who may not understand the difference between a criminal case like this one, and a civil case in personal injury, as is more likely to happen on board a bus.
Crime vs Civil Tort
In the stabbing case, the attacker appeared to attack the victim in an attempt to steal his cell phone, stabbing him repeatedly, though the victim ultimately survived. There was graphic video from the bus’s security cameras that captured the nature of the attack, and it seemed to begin out of nowhere. The attacker was later tried and convicted, reappearing in court on February 6 for his sentencing. He pleaded “nolo contendere,” which means ‘no contest’ and is technically not an admission of guilt. However, the judge sentenced him to 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, plus a fine.
The attacker was charged with a crime, punishable by jail time among other potential consequences. However, most injuries that happen on buses or other public transportation are considered to happen as a result of civil torts. A civil tort is a negligent or reckless act that ends in loss or harm to another person or to property, while a crime is considered a wrongful act against society as a whole. If there is a VIA bus accident where people are injured, it is considered a civil tort because the keyword is accident – there would be no malice or intent to injure anyone. The attacker clearly, by the video, intended to injure the victim and was thus charged with a crime.
Burden of Proof Still High
When an alleged crime has been committed, the individual is charged with it by the state of Texas. When a civil wrong occurs, which is much more common, one or more of the injured parties chooses to bring a civil suit against the person or entity that they believe caused the accident. For example, if a bus passenger slips and falls on a wet patch of the bus’s floor, hurting themselves, no one would be charged with a crime – no intentional or malicious act has happened. However, they might try to bring suit against either VIA or the individual bus driver (or both) for alleged negligence in maintaining the bus in a safe condition.
Be advised that if you are injured on a bus, the burden of proof that you must meet in trying to hold VIA liable can be difficult to meet. You must establish that you have the ability to bring suit in the first place, given that VIA is a governmental agency and is thus protected from most lawsuits by a concept called sovereign immunity. It is possible for government agencies to be sued in some cases, but it is not a good idea to assume that they are always open to suit. By comparison, if you are the victim of a crime on a VIA bus, it is the individual that will most often be punished, rather than VIA itself.
Can a New Braunfels Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
While the odds of you being attacked on a VIA bus are extremely low, the odds are higher that you might be involved in an accident of some kind. If you have been injured on a VIA bus or because of a VIA employee’s actions, calling an experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyer is an important first step in trying to obtain the compensation you deserve. The Bettersworth Law Firm will work hard for you. Call us today at 888-392-0039 for a free consultation.