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One of the 14 people injured in a shuttle bus crash at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has filed a lawsuit against the bus driver and the company that owns the bus.
Talipha Charles suffered broken bones, contusions, and other injuries in the crash, the Daily Herald reports. According to Charles' lawyer, the bus driver was speeding at the time of the collision and failed to stay in the proper lane, causing the bus to crash into a concrete median.
How will these allegations affect both the driver's and the bus company's potential liability for the crash?
Bus Accident Lawsuits
Lawsuits arising from bus accidents may be somewhat different than lawsuits involving ordinary automobile accidents. That's because buses are typically considered common carriers under both federal and state law, meaning that they are held to a higher standard of safe operation than other vehicles on the road.
Generally, common carriers must use the utmost care in transporting their passengers. In addition to proving that the carrier breached its duty to keep passengers safe, a plaintiff in a bus accident case must also generally prove that the carrier's breach was the cause of her injuries.
Negligence Per Se
If Charles can prove that the driver of the bus was violating traffic laws at the time of the accident, then she may be able to hold the driver and the bus company liable for her injuries under the legal theory of negligence per se.
If a plaintiff alleging negligence can show that the defendant violated a statute that involves safety, and that statute was meant to protect those in the plaintiff's position against the type of harm suffered by the plaintiff in the accident, then the defendant can be found liable for the plaintiff's injuries by negligence per se. In this case, the traffic laws allegedly violated by the bus driver were meant to protect others on the road, such as passengers, from being injured in auto accidents, so negligence per se may apply.
Whenever an employee of a business is found negligent while performing a job related duty, the employer may also be vicariously liable for their employee's negligence through the doctrine of respondeat superior. In addition, the bus company may be found liable through negligence of their own, such as negligent training or negligent supervision of the driver.
As for the defendants, local news sources have been unable to reach them for comment.