Part of the day-to-day grind for many workers in the Sacramento area is using public transportation. Riding the bus can be a more economical and environmentally friendly way to travel compared to driving a car, and it is normally a pretty uneventful process. However, a routine bus ride can turn tragic if the bus is involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Bus accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, especially given the fact that buses are large vehicles carrying many passengers, and people on buses generally do not wear seatbelts or may even be standing when the crash occurs. If the collision is caused by the bus driver, passengers may wonder if they can pursue a personal injury claim to recover compensation for the damages they suffered. The following is a brief overview of liability in bus accident cases.

What is sovereign immunity in bus accident cases?

It is important to note that if you are riding a city bus in California, it is a government entity that owns the vehicle. This means that bus drivers may be considered government employees and thus are protected from legal claims through “sovereign immunity.”

Generally, sovereign immunity means that a government employee cannot be sued. That being said, the government may allow a legal claim to proceed by waiving sovereign immunity or if there is consent to the claim and the victim follows the stricter procedural requirements that follow a legal claim against a government entity.

Some buses are owned by private entities. If these vehicles are involved in a crash, passengers may be able to pursue a legal claim based on the traditional negligence rules and procedures that apply to standard personal injury claims.

Moving forward following a bus accident

People involved in a bus accident may suffer from serious injuries, including head injuries, spinal cord injuries and broken bones. Such injuries can be very costly to treat and could affect a person for the rest of their life. However, bus accident cases may differ from legal claims involving two private automobiles due to sovereign immunity. This post only touches on the concept of sovereign immunity and does not contain legal advice. Fortunately, attorneys across California are available to explain the complex topic of sovereign immunity and can fight aggressively for clients seriously injured in bus accidents.