Bus carriers have increased responsibility after San Diego accidents.

California – July 26, 2022

The National Highway Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems (FARS) defines a bus as a motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine, or more persons, including the driver.  The size of a bus and the passenger capacity increases the catastrophic outcomes when a bus is involved in an accident.  Experienced bus accident attorneys can build winning cases to support damage compensation through their knowledge of the laws that regulate inter and intrastate travel, including bus driver screening and proficiency to ensure passenger safety.

Duty of care based on bus type.

  • Common carrier: Buses that offer a service to communities and charge a fee for the transportation service fall under federal common carrier laws.  Public entities and private companies offer carrier services and are regulated by local, state, and federal laws, but the federal government regulates carriers that transport passengers across state lines under the Interstate Commerce Act and individual state law regulates travel within a state.  Legal responsibility for common carriers mandates a higher level of care because of paid services to the public.
  • School buses:  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road and children are safer taking buses to school rather than traveling by car. Safety standards for school buses are higher than regular government-controlled transit and private buses. Federal regulations also require other passenger vehicles sharing the roadway with school buses to adhere to certain driving patterns and strict rules to ensure school bus safety.

Common causes of bus accidents.

  • Poor training of bus drivers,
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • Distracted driving,
  • Limitations to bus driver visibility,
  • Aggressive driving techniques, speeding, or dangerous maneuvering,
  • Sudden acceleration, or braking,
  • Poor bus maintenance,
  • Fault of other vehicle drivers.

Bus driver requirements.

Bus drivers have different demands by regulation as to their safe ability to operate a passenger carrier.  The specific medically disqualifying conditions found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are hearing loss, vision loss, epilepsy, and insulin use, with certain exemptions. Most commercial bus drivers are required  to have commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL).  The CDL regulations provide that “no person shall operate” a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)s before passing the written and driving tests required for that vehicle (§383.23(a)(1)).

Higher limits for insurance coverage.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if a bus carries over 15 passengers, the bus must carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. Buses carrying fewer than 15 passengers must carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage. While these amounts are considered to be the minimum limits, it is rare that buses will carry more than $5,000,000 in insurance. If a personal injury attorney is successful with insurance carrier communications, a claim award will address the losses that include expenses for medical treatment, future medical expenses, changes in live expenses, lost and future wages, and compensation for any future loss of companionship, comfort, and affection.

Hire a lawyer.

A personal injury lawyer who is familiar with California accident laws can be reached at the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates.  They will work with insurance companies after a bus accident to determine fair valuations of property, residual bodily harm, and wrongful death, and make certain the insurance company’s offer represents resultant compensatory and punitive damages to cover all victim’s losses.

Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730



  1. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety
  2. https://www.napt.org/
  3. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/part/383
  4. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/understanding-passenger-carrier-regulations
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