A majority of travelers consider common carriers to be safe modes of transport. This, however, doesn’t mean that they cannot be involved in accidents. Most people prefer buses, which qualify as common carriers because they are quite convenient, safe, and reliable. However, the moment a bus accident happens, the outcome may be devastating. As common carriers, buses have to follow the strict Nevada common carrier law. If you sustain injuries due to a bus crash, you have first to understand what the common carrier law says for you to be able to proceed with seeking compensation effectively. In this article, attorneys at Dallas Horton & Associates explain in detail the common carrier law with respect to bus accidents and how it’s applied in Las Vegas.
The Nevada Common Carrier Law
The city of Las Vegas is popularly known as a tourist destination town and attracts tourists from all around the world. It offers a variety of activities and many people tour for leisure. Others come for business conferences plus other events. Regardless of why a person would visit Las Vegas, these people don’t come with their private cars but depend on public transport. Thus, most people make use of common carriers to get around the city and when going to different venues.
As per the Nevada statutes, a common carrier is a legal term that refers to all the businesses that transport persons from one point to another. Typical common carriers might operate on fixed scheduled routes and might work on-call bases. Examples of common carriers are airplanes, buses, taxis, and train companies. A few common carriers are privately-owned while state organizations own others. All carriers, both private and public, have a single feature in common; they operate under similar rules and regulations set by the state and federal governments.
All private and public common carriers must abide by the safety rules & regulations for them to operate in Nevada legally. Should they fail to obey these rules & regulations and passengers end up suffering injuries, they will be held accountable. Even if a common carrier abides by rules & regulations, the carrier operator should also employ their duty of care. By this, it means the operator has to act in a similar way a sensible operator would do when operating the carrier. The carrier operator must make sure that his/her passengers are out of harm’s way. In case the operator acts negligently, and injuries arise, he/she would be held responsible.
Nevada’s common carrier law is quite strict. This is because most of these common carriers are in charge of automobiles that carry many passengers at a given time. Thus, if a crash happens, the outcome is often catastrophic. That is why Nevada State holds the common carriers to higher standards of safety. These strict standards play a role in avoiding cases of mass transport injuries.
Regulatory Standards of Common Carriers
Particular common carriers like passenger trains and planes work under the authority of regulatory bodies that set passenger safety standards and other concerns of the passengers. For example, as per the Nevada laws, commercial airlines have to adhere to the rules and regulations that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) puts in place.
Where regulatory standards are in effect, failure to caution passengers about a possibly dangerous condition could expose a common carrier to lawful actions for crashes and injuries the passenger suffers. For instance, in case a pilot does not warn the passengers about turbulence by failing to activate the fasten seatbelt warning, the company in charge of the airline can be held responsible for the injuries inflicted on a passenger.
If passengers are not cautioned of danger, fault narrows down to determining whether a sensibly careful operator would or should’ve been aware of the hazardous condition. Commercial trains and airlines may be held responsible for any harm caused as a result of violating federal rules or the failure to exercise diligence and reasonable care to protect the passengers. Acting with reasonable care is a vital factor in any commercial carrier’s personal injury case.
The rules & regulations that regulate common carrier operations do vary. When common carriers majorly transport cargo or passengers across states, federal rules usually come into effect. The laws of the state usually govern carriers used for public transportation like taxicabs, limousines, buses, and rideshares.
Public transportation common carriers have the duty to caution passengers of any known risks that may arise in the kind of transportation they give. For instance, buses have to warn their passengers of potential injuries when they stand in an aisle when the bus is moving. But, if the passenger can sensibly see that possible harm might arise, the carrier might not be responsible or may only be partly liable for the accident and injuries.
Passenger trains, cruise ships, and commercial airlines usually limit their responsibility for loss of property. Personal property can be protected to a given extent when passengers purchase tickets or enter into a transportation contract. In most situations, property loss could be recovered, but only to a limited amount. Usually, cruise ships, trains, and airlines limit their accountability for damaged or lost items. Any passenger who loses their smartphone, camera, jewelry, laptop computer, or items of clothing are most likely to recover only a partial cost or flat monetary fee of the property, instead of the full replacement cost.
Common Carrier Responsibility for Crashes and Injuries
Generally, a common carrier is held to higher standards of care for property and people it transports. When a common carrier accident takes place, the driver and the company of the carrier may be held accountable for the crash.
The liability of common carriers is limited. They’re responsible for the injuries the passenger suffered due to the negligence of the carrier, but don’t ensure passenger safety. Drivers and companies are not liable for the harm that arose due to causes that are beyond their control.
For instance, suppose a school child gets knocked down by a motorcycle after safely alighting from the school bus. The bus company will most likely not be held accountable for the child’s injuries. This is because the school bus company does not have any duty beyond that which they owe to protect minors from reasonably expected dangers. As per the limited liability rules and regulations, the moment a passenger safely alights from a common carrier, that carrier doesn’t have further duty for the passenger. However, in cases like this, injured victims may be capable of suing the driver of the vehicle that inflicted harm on them. In our example above, for instance, the child can sue the motorcycle rider for damages.
Nevada Bus Accidents
As earlier mentioned, common carriers in Nevada operate guided by the regulations of State and Federal laws. These laws govern carriers to higher obligations and duty of care to their customers. Nevada aims at improving passenger safety while aboard the common carriers. The Nevada commercial bus companies must enhance passenger safety in many ways.
The operators of common carriers must make sure that the carrier exits and entries are safe for passenger use. They also need to make sure that they enhance passenger safety. Bus companies have to make sure that their motorists have the proper qualifications to drive buses. They also have to make sure their buses are maintained correctly. Maintenance involves making sure that all vehicle parts are functioning correctly, including the engines and mechanical components. Common carrier companies have the duty of monitoring as well as correcting any issues that arise with the carriers.
As per the Nevada laws, road users must exercise reasonable care to prevent causing harm to other individuals. If a road user doesn’t reasonably prevent the causing of injuries to others, he or she will be held responsible for any resulting damages and injuries.
The duty of care applies to all vehicle accidents, including common carrier crashes. In case a bus motorist uses his or her cell phone when driving, and as a result, a collision happens, the driver can be held accountable for failing to act with due care. Common carrier accident victims will have the right to bring a claim against the motorist and seek to recover damages, even when the driver didn’t mean for the crash to happen.
Unlike the drivers of personal vehicles, bus motorists have to exercise an extra duty of care. Nevada common carriers are responsible for passenger injuries, even at the time when the carrier was only slightly careless during the collision.
Bus Accidents Are Quite Complicated Compared to Personal Vehicle Crashes
Apart from bus-related accidents being more complicated compared to personal vehicle collisions, it’s also quite challenging to litigate these types of accidents than other vehicle collisions. Buses are, in themselves, dangerous due to their height. They are at an increased risk of rolling or tipping over, which elevates the possibility of bus crashes. A majority of city buses don’t have safety devices like seatbelts and airbags.
Injuries You Can Sustain in a Bus Accident
Most buses transport many passengers at a given time. A few buses may hold up to a hundred passengers. When a crash happens, passengers might fall off from their seats and end up pushing against one another. Bus passengers don’t have the privilege of enjoying safety devices like airbags that are commonly found in smaller autos. Thus, in case of an accident, bus passengers are bound to sustain severer injuries.
Common injuries that you may sustain in case of a collision include:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Herniated disks
- Torn ligaments
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
If you get trapped in the vehicle for a more extended period, you could suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. And in overly dangerous situations, a passenger may lose his/her life.
Bus Accident Causes in Las Vegas
There are many reasons why common carrier accidents occur, the common one being collisions. A crash may happen when a bus strikes other autos or other objects like guardrails, highway signs, signposts, etc.
Also, a bus crash may occur if the bus hits an animal or a pedestrian. Bus safety has significantly improved in Las Vegas over the years. However, accidents still happen at a higher rate causing substantial property damage and severe passenger injuries. Every year, we have tourists streaming into Las Vegas from the U. S and also the world since it’s known as an entertainment city. Most tourists don’t hire private vehicles to take them around the city. Rather, they prefer common carriers like buses. These reasons make Las Vegas have high bus-related traffic, and as a result, crashes are equally frequent.
Most bus accidents occur because of the driver’s negligence. A motorist is said to be negligent if they fail to obey traffic rules or engage in reckless conduct like speeding, drunk-driving, and distracted driving. Improper maintenance of the bus may also result in an accident if the vehicle components fail to work correctly, and the motorist is incapable of controlling the auto.
Bus-related collisions also happen because of hazardous conditions, especially when a passenger is alighting from or boarding the bus. A bus operator has the duty of making sure that passengers don’t face dangers when getting off or boarding the vehicle. For example, he/she ought to de-ice the bus entryways in winter seasons. To prevent a flip & fall accident at a bus station, operators should stop their vehicles where the ground is not slippery.
Failing to yield the right-of-way by the driver may also lead to accidents. A driver who engages in erratic driving may cause a crash as well. For instance, a driver that fails to maintain his/her lane or follows very closely behind another vehicle may end up hitting other automobiles.
The cause of a bus crash might not be evident immediately. However, if you hire an injury attorney, he/she will conduct a thorough investigation to find out the real cause. The lawyer will consider various factors like the condition of the weather when the accident took place. Additionally, the lawyer will look into the bus condition together with the state of its safety equipment. Further factors include the road condition, and the safety and maintenance records of the involved bus.
Bringing a Personal Injury Claim
When you get injured as a result of a common carrier crash, you have to show that the operator or company was negligent, and the injuries occurred due to that negligence. In case you fall from the bus when it swerves to evade another vehicle or unexpectedly stops when playing children run in front of it, this doesn’t constitute driver carelessness. But, if the driver of the bus is under the influence, or talking to passengers or in a mobile phone when a collision takes place, the motorist will be said to have been negligent and will be held liable for your injuries.
Since state or federal agencies govern the companies in charge of public transportation, special rules apply to suits filed against them. In these cases, the statutes of limitations to bring a personal injury claim is usually shorter compared to other forms of injury suits. For instance, in Nevada, the statute of limitations is six months.
You Are Partly to Blame for a Bus Accident
Sometimes you might be partly responsible for the accident in which you are involved. Nevada applies the comparative negligence rule, also known as shared fault law, in personal injury cases. However, note that even when you partially are to blame, you’re entitled to damages to a specific level. The at-fault party ought to recompense you based on your level of liability.
If you are partly to blame for the collision, your degree of fault will substantially affect the compensation amount you will be awarded. The bus operator and their insurance provider may try using your level of guilt to withhold your damages. Your lawyer should negotiate with these parties to make sure you recover the damages you deserve as per your extent of the fault.
Damages You Can Recover in Case of Bus-Related Accident
After sustaining injuries due to a bus collision in Las Vegas, you’re entitled to receive compensation for non-economic (general) and economic (special) damages. It’s quite easier to calculate economic damages in monetary value than it is for general damages.
Economic damages compensate for the amount of money you spent when seeking medical care after sustaining injuries in a crash. When calculating medical expenses, we advise you to put in mind the past, future, and current medical bills. For example, if you’re going to need to undergo physiotherapy for several months, you have to make sure that you include the costs for that in your calculation. The court will award you medical expenses damages for the money you incurred only in treating the injuries associated with the accident. If you had pre-existing health conditions, you wouldn’t be compensated for them.
Also, after sustaining injuries as a result of a bus collision, you may be incapable of working and generating income like you used to do. If this is the case, you can claim damages for lost income. Lost wages comprise the total amount of money you would’ve earned, were it not for the injuries you suffered in the bus-related wreck. When determining how much to be awarded as compensation for lost income, the court will consider your regular pay rate and the days you spent without reporting to work because of the injuries you suffered.
Apart from claiming compensation for lost wages, you can also seek to be compensated for your loss of capacity to earn. You might be capable of participating in activities that generate income after being in a bus accident. But, because of the injuries you sustained during the collision, you might not be capable of being as productive as you were before. For instance, you may earn less income compared to what you had been making before the collision. Therefore, you can claim damages for loss of earning capacity from the at-fault party.
Non-economic damages are also called general damages. After involvement in a bus-related accident, you can suffer from anxiety, depression, or stress. Also, you may be in continual pain because of the injuries you suffered. You may seek to be compensated for the pain & suffering you go through due to the collision. Apart from pain & suffering, you may also be compensated for the emotional distress and mental anguish you go through.
As we mentioned earlier, it is quite challenging to calculate the compensation value. However, if you’ve got visible bruises and cuts from the crash, it may clearly show that you’ve suffered pain & suffering. An expert report, for instance, a psychiatrist, could help to establish that you suffered mental anguish & emotional distress, and you ought to be compensated for that.
You could also be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life. All the harm you suffered in the course of your bus-related accident may prevent you from taking part in your hobbies, and fun activities like you used to do. The injuries may make you avoid crowds and stop attending social gatherings. If this is the case, the court will have you get compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life.
Your spouse can also seek to be compensated for the loss of consortium or companionship. After sustaining injuries due to a bus crash, you may not be capable of giving your spouse intimacy and companionship anymore, like how you did in the past before the injuries. Therefore, your partner deserves compensation for the loss of consortium. If a bus-related accident victim succumbs to the injuries he/she sustained in the crash, his or her family members can bring a lawsuit seeking damages for the victim’s wrongful death. This type of claim is known as a wrongful death claim.
Hire a Common Carrier Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Understanding common carrier law after involvement in a bus-related accident will provide the best way on how to proceed with your case. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for you to comprehend these laws in detail since you are not an attorney. For this reason, you should hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as you get involved in a bus crash, so you don’t suffer alone. The attorney will help you understand the law as well as seek compensation for your injuries. If you are in Las Vegas and are looking for an attorney, contact Dallas Horton & Associates law firm at 702-380-3100 as soon as possible. We will assess your situation and help you to determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation.