I was struck by a car while getting off a bus. Who is liable?

Most pedestrian accidents that occur have an obvious at-fault party – either the pedestrian (if crossing at an illegal location) or the driver who hit the pedestrian (if failing to yield or driving negligently). When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian who is exiting a bus, though, liability may not be as straightforward. The following reviews different situations in which liability may shift and what a person who’s been hit by a car while exiting a bus should do.

Bus Company/Bus Driver Liability

First and foremost, it is important to note that most often, a bus driver will not be held independently liable; the bus company for which the driver works will be held liable for the driver’s actions under the theory of vicarious liability. That being said, a bus company may be held liable for a pedestrian accident that occurs when a rider exits the bus.

This may be the case if the bus driver does any of the following actions listed below.

  • Fails to drop the passenger off in a safe and designated location
  • Does not signal to other vehicles that the bus is stopping (putting on brake lights, putting out a stop sign, etc.)
  • Performs a hazardous action that endangers the pedestrian, causing him or her to be put in the line of traffic (i.e., zooming away before the pedestrian has fully exited)

If any of the above occurs, then the bus company will probably be held liable, or at least partially liable, for pedestrian damages.

Vehicle Driver Liability

Assuming that the bus driver does not do anything negligent, however, liability may lie on the shoulders of the driver who struck the pedestrian only. This is particularly true if the driver acted negligently at the time of the collision. Negligence that could lead to a pedestrian accident includes driving too closely to the bus, failing to stop when the bus stopped, driving while drunk or failing to yield to a pedestrian who was crossing the street at a designated location.

Am I liable for my injuries?

There are also situations in which the pedestrian who was struck may be held partially responsible. As mentioned above, if a pedestrian was crossing at a location that was not marked for pedestrians and did not yield to vehicles per the law, then liability may lie with the injured person. The pedestrian may also be considered partially at fault if intoxicated at the time of the collision. In some cases, two, three or more parties may be found jointly liable — and the claimant’s damages amount will be reduced by the claimant’s own percentage of fault as such — under comparative negligence laws.

What’s next?

If a vehicle struck you while you were getting off a bus and you’re not sure who is liable, call an attorney. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we can help you determine liability and file your claim. Contact us now for a free case consultation at 215-642-2335