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Exploring the duties of common carriers following a bus accident

For some Massachusetts residents, riding on a bus is commonplace. This form of public transportation is not only reliable but also efficient and environmentally friendly. And, while buses are able to transport a large number of passengers at one time, this also places numerous people at risk if a bus driver is not driving safely, is distracted or is negligent behind the wheel.

A bus is a common carrier. This means that they transport people from one place to another for a fee. Because public transit authorities offer their services to the public under the authority of a regulatory body, this sets certain standards for the safety of all passengers. However, regulations or not, common carriers are required to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence when it comes to the safety of the passengers.

The failure to warn passengers about any potential dangers could expose a common carrier to a legal action. But, liability in these situations comes down to the question of whether a reasonably careful operator would have known or should have known about the dangerous condition that injured a passenger.

In order for an injured passenger to have a claim in a bus accident caused by the negligence of a common carrier, a victim will first need to show that the common carrier owed a duty to exercise the utmost care and diligence with respect to the passengers on the bus. Then, the injured passenger must prove that this duty was breached. Next, the injured passenger must show that the breach was the proximate cause of their injuries, meaning that if not for the breach, the injury would not have occurred. Lastly, the injured passenger must have suffered damages. These usually amount to physical injuries but could also be emotional distress or lost wages.

No one ever expects to be involved in a bus accident; however, when such a tragic incident occurs, victims likely suffer tremendously. Therefore, it is important that victims understand the standards set for common carriers and what recourse is available for injured passengers.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a Common Carrier?," accessed Nov. 27, 2016

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