Many Murfreesboro residents use Rover, the public bus system, to commute, while others may utilize privately owned buses. While buses are generally safe, due to their large size and weight, they can cause catastrophic harm should they collide with a passenger vehicle or pedestrian.
Whether you were struck by a negligent bus driver or were a passenger on a common carrier that crashed, a Murfreesboro bus accident lawyer could help you. A seasoned injury attorney could help determine if you are entitled to compensation from a bus driver, the government, or a private carrier.
Private Common Carrier Liability
Private buses are used in businesses that operate for profit. They include large interstate carriers, such as Greyhound Lines, and small buses or vans, such as those used in daycares, private schools, retirement communities, and hotel airport shuttles.
If a private bus driver is negligent and causes harm to someone, in Tennessee, a claimant may be able to sue the bus owner for being directly liable and vicariously liable for the injuries caused by its employee. This was decided in the appellate case Jones v. Windham, et al. In this case, a daycare school bus driver crashed, killing a child.
The day care was sued under the doctrine of direct liability, that it had negligently hired an unqualified bus driver, and for vicarious liability, that the employer is responsible for employees’ actions on the job. The lower court ruled that the employer was vicariously liable, so could not be held directly liable under the preemption rule.
The appellate court disagreed and ruled that the non-preemption rule should apply. An admission of vicarious liability does not preempt a ruling that the employer is also directly liable. The court said that because Tennessee is a comparative fault state, in which several parties to the accident are apportioned a degree of fault, instead of a contributory negligence state, in which the defendant is either 100 percent at fault for an accident or not at fault, a party could be both directly and vicariously liable.
Thus, for the first time in Tennessee, the employer in the Windham case was found directly liable for failing to vet the bus driver properly, and vicariously liable for the driver’s negligent actions. An experienced local attorney could determine whether a plaintiff’s bus crash case could have multiple defendants, and whether direct and vicarious liability apply.
Could Someone Sue a Government-Owned Bus?
Murfreesboro Transportation Department operates the public bus system, Rover, for the convenience of its citizens. Public buses are owned by the government to benefit taxpayers and are not meant to be run for profit.
If a passenger or another vehicle is involved in a crash with a public bus, the process for receiving financial compensation is often more complicated. This is because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, in which any government entity or employee performing a government job cannot be sued unless the government waives the right.
People injured in wrecks with public buses must first appeal through a written form to the Tennessee Claims Commission, which adjudicates claims, including those against a government employee, under Tennessee Code § 9-8-307. Since government bus collision claims are handled differently, a Murfreesboro attorney should be consulted before an injured party proceeds.
In a lawsuit against a private bus carrier, the victim’s compensation is carefully calculated depending on their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. However, in a lawsuit against the government that owns the bus involved in an accident, compensation is allocated from a Risk Management Fund and is limited to $300,000 for each claimant and $1,000,000 for the particular occurrence.
Speak with a Murfreesboro Bus Accident Attorney for Help
Tennessee law stipulates different rules for common carrier accidents, depending on whether a private company or the government owns the bus. Private carriers may also face dual liability if their employee was negligent and if they did not provide proper screening or training of the bus driver.
If you are injured in a crash involving a common carrier, call a Murfreesboro bus accident lawyer today. Our team could provide experienced guidance and help you recover the compensation you deserve.