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Megabus Accident Illustrates Need for Higher Standard of Care

News reports of car accidents and roll overs seem to pervade our daily traffic reports. So much so that we often become desensitized to the tragedy and loss so many encounter on the roads each day. As drivers on public roads, we acknowledge and accept the fact that danger may strike and we put trust in our vehicles and our driving abilities to avoid them. But what happens when we are not the ones in control of the vehicle? Take for instance the 56 passengers aboard a Megabus that recently crashed on Interstate 65 near Indianapolis while traveling from Atlanta to Chicago. More than 26 of those passengers were seriously injured when the bus driver hit a stopped car and veered onto the median, where it rolled over onto its side. Some passengers allege that the bus’ windshield wipers were malfunctioning at the time, which led to the crash. Despite the cause, none of the Megabus passengers had any control over the events that occurred or any way of avoiding their resulting injuries. Indiana law recognizes this unique situation and provides special rules for the standard of care that common carriers, such as Megabus, must provide. Under the law, common carriers, such as taxi drivers, bus companies, train operators, and pilots for hire, must provide a very high standard of care, often referred to as strict liability. Under this standard of care, an injured passenger does not need to prove negligence on the part of the common carrier. Instead, he or she need only show that a tort occurred and the common carrier was responsible. This differs greatly from the traditional standard of care that applies to most car accidents and other torts. Under the traditional standard, known as the “reasonable person” standard, in order to prevail in a lawsuit, an injured person must prove that the driver was negligent by failing to act the way a reasonable person in the same situation would have acted. The reasonable person standard of care is much harder to prove than the common carrier standard. The reason behind this special rule for common carriers is illustrated by the recent Megabus accident. Each of the 56 passengers placed their trust in Megabus to provide them safe travel to Chicago. The passengers had no control over whether the bus was maintained or how the bus was operated. They had to rely on Megabus to provide a properly maintained vehicle and competent and safe drivers. Because of this high level of trust placed in Megabus, and other common carriers, the law imposes the higher standard of care. It is good public policy to allow people to trust the company they hired to provide safe transportation and if not, to hold the company strictly liable for any harm caused to its passengers. With the law providing more protections to innocent passengers like those traveling on the Megabus, and with so many people seriously injured, it is no surprise that within days of the accident lawsuits against Megabus were initiated. But even with the higher standard of care, the passengers have a long fight ahead of them. Fortunately, experienced attorneys are accustomed to the strategies and delay tactics of big companies, such as Megabus, and are equipped to combat it. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle or common carrier accident, please call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427 for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

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