Liability and Chartered Tour Bus Accidents

When visiting a tourist destination, it’s not uncommon to utilize a chartered tour bus. These large vehicles are an efficient way to get sizable groups of people from one place to another, and they’re often an economical option. Though they are subject to regulation, and their drivers often require special licensure, bus accidents do happen from time to time. When these incidents occur, determining liability can become a nuanced and complicated task.

The state of Indiana considers a tour bus to be a “common carrier.” That designation essentially means that it’s an entity that receives compensation for transporting persons from point A to point B. A common carrier is expected to maintain high safety standards for its passengers, and often lawsuits that are brought against them are due to negligence.

When a lawsuit involving a tour bus accident takes place, there are typically three parties that can be liable:

  • The bus company. As the owner of the vehicle, it’s the duty of the bus company to maintain a reasonable degree of safety. They also must hire qualified drivers, and demonstrate their fitness as a common carrier when involved in a contract with another party.
  • The tour company. A tour company, upon entering a contract, has an obligation to hire a bus company with a clean safety history. If an accident occurs and the bus has a track record of safety violations, then the tour company could share liability with the bus’s owner.
  • The tour bus destination. It may come as a surprise, but when a tour bus-related injury takes place, sometimes the destination is liable. This is more common in slip and fall cases, when the conditions of the destination or venue—say standing water causes a stumble—leads to an injury.

While these are the three most common parties to assume liability in an accident, it’s worth noting that more than one can share that distinction in a lawsuit. Should an individual find themselves dealing with a personal injury due to a chartered tour bus accident, consulting with legal counsel could prove beneficial. Because of the multiple players that can be involved, liability determination in these cases is rarely cut and dried.