The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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When does a transportation company’s duty of care begin and end for their passengers?
A company’s duty of care begins before the passenger even gets on the vehicle. If the passenger is at a bus stop, but the stop created hazardous conditions for the passenger before the bus even arrived, the company could be held liable. The duty of care always begins when the passenger has one foot on the steps of the bus to get ready to board. The duty of care continues until the passenger is safely off the vehicle. There are some circumstances, however, where it may continue even after the passenger disembarks, such as if the bus driver lets the passenger off in an unsafe location or in the middle of the road.
What special protections do bus or train passengers have?
If you are a passenger on a bus or train, you are covered by special protections. This is because the transportation company is legally considered a common carrier and, as such, owes all passengers a duty of care. It is up to the company and all of their employees to do all that they can to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Is the transportation company liable for a passenger’s injuries caused by bus or train accidents?
The transportation company that owns the bus can be held liable for injuries if the passenger was injured because of:
- Bus driver error
- Equipment failure
- Collisions with other trains, vehicles, or pedestrians
- Poor maintenance of the bus or train
How many Virginians die in distracted driving accidents?According to 2017 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles statistics, there were 208 deaths and 14,656 injuries that year. Many of these preventable accidents happened in southeast Virginia, as well as on I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk. Distracted driving is very dangerous and if it is proven that the driver distraction led to injury of another party, a successful personal injury lawsuit is possible.
What legal options do I have if my child is injured in a school bus accident?Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who injured your child, the school bus driver and/or the school district. It all depends on who was negligent in the accident. Talk to a Virginia or North Carolina personal injury attorney for a free consultation to determine the best path of legal action.
What are other causes of school bus accidents that could result in driver and/or school district liability?School business drivers must go through a lot of driver training to get their CDL, but driver error still occurs. Driver fatigue also can cause accidents. Mechanical failure also is not uncommon and if the bus has a mechanical issue that injures your child, the school district could be held liable.
If my child's school bus driver got distracted and got in an accident, can I sue?Yes. If your child has injuries and it can be shown the bus driver was negligent and was distracted, you could have legal recourse. School bus drivers can be distracted by cell phones, something outside the bus, and children horsing around in the passenger compartment. But the bus driver has a high duty of care in his or her job and must drive safely at all times. If they fail in that duty, they could be held liable for your child's injuries.
What is the doctrine of sovereign immunity in Virginia?
Law school textbooks describe sovereign immunity as evolving from the ancient concept that the king can do no wrong. As applied under modern Virginia law, sovereign immunity protects government agencies and government employees from personal and wrongful death lawsuits unless very specific conditions exist.
Generally, a government employee who acts within the scope of his or her job duties cannot be sued by the victim of an accident caused by that government employee. Similarly, government officials, departments and agencies are immune from personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits when the employee who caused an accident was working within the scope of the law.
Sovereign immunity can be waived (i.e., removed by a court) when evidence exists that a government employee was acting recklessly or doing something blatantly illegal. For instance, a city bus driver who was driving drunk could not claim sovereign immunity.
A Virginia Beach Public Schools bus hit and injured me. Can I sue?
Virginia law requires all public school districts and private schools to carry insurance on their bus drivers. You will have grounds for filing insurance claims or pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if you can produce evidence that the public school bus driver caused the crash by acting negligently or recklessly. This is the same rule for liability that is used in crashes cause by car and truck drivers.
An HRT bus hit and injured me. Can I sue?
Virginia law grants public transit agencies sovereign immunity. This means that drivers, pedestrians and passengers on public buses generally cannot file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits following a crash.
The sovereign immunity protection goes away, however, when a bus driver causes a crash by acting in a way that Virginia state statutes describe as “gross negligence.” Examples of gross negligence could include driving without a valid license, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or crashing with the intent of causing injuries or deaths.