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California Bus Accident Liability

Who Is Liable in a Bus Accident?

It may be difficult to determine who is at-fault for a bus accident. There are various factors that could be involved. The individual may have been drunk, fatigued, or distracted as they were driving on the road. Placing blame on their negligent actions will not be difficult as long as there is convincing proof. However, identifying the correct party will not be easy.


Conducting an Investigation 

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

An investigation must be initiated to determine who caused the accident. Potential candidates that could be at-fault for damages include:

  • Bus driver. Under California Common Law, a bus driver is expected to provide the “utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.” They are required to maintain a safe environment for passengers and drivers surrounding them. Bus drivers must:
    • Be respectful of passengers.
    • Give passengers reasonable attention.
    • Give passengers appropriate accommodation, especially for the disabled and elderly.
    • Warn passengers about potential dangers that might occur when utilizing the bus’s services.
    • Follow the rules of the road.
    • Protect passengers from enduring any potential harm or injuries.

    Failing to follow these obligations can result in passengers and nearby drivers getting injured, or even killed. The bus driver will most likely face a bus accident lawsuit.

  • City, council, and state agencies. They will be held liable for injuries if they:
    • Design faulty roadways.
    • Use unclear lanes or turns.
    • Leave leftover debris on the roads and highways.
    • Do not provide warning signs for curves.
    • Use incorrect signages for zones that were intended to be used for construction.
  • Bus manufacturer. They will be responsible for passenger injuries if they:
    • Created faulty designs
    • Were aware of defects during the manufacturing process, but failed at giving a proper warning.
    • Did not include a warning label for users to be aware of the risks associated with the bus.

Determining Liability 

California is a comparative liability state, which means that a plaintiff can recover some damages, whether he or she had some level of responsibility in causing the bus accident. Available damages will be reduced depending on that individual’s degree of fault.

An injured bus accident victim can claim damages by proving that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the accident. The elements of negligence include the following:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  • The defendant breached this duty of care through negligence.
  • The defendant’s breach was the significant factor that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In summary, if an injured bus accident victim can prove that the defendant was negligent, the defendant will likely be responsible for paying the plaintiff’s damages.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you were a victim of a bus accident and want to sue the individual at-fault, our experienced personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will get you the maximum compensation you deserve. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. There are no financial risks involved when you use our services. Contact us today by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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