Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bus: Presumed Liable

I’d like to add a few ideas regarding this bus accident.

Compared to accidents involving two private vehicles or between a private vehicle and a pedestrian, the injured party in a bus accident has higher chances of collecting damages from the wrongdoer. This is because the bus is a common carrier.

A common carrier is a business enterprise, which is involved with carrying passengers and/or goods from one place to another. Common carriers first have to obtain a license from the state before they can operate. A license is needed because their business involves public interest and public safety.

Thus, the state requires them to observe extraordinary care and diligence when performing their business or when traveling with passengers and/or goods.

As a result, whenever a common carrier is involved in an accident, the law provides a presumption of negligence against the carrier, and in favor of the passengers or victims. The burden of proof lies with the carrier. It has the burden of showing that the personal injury suffered by the victims is not caused by its nonobservance or lack of extraordinary diligence.

Failure to oppose this presumption given by law would make the common carrier, after due proceedings, liable for the incident.

However, the victim may also be considered as contributory negligent in the case. When the common carrier proves, by sufficient evidence, that the victim performs an act or fails to do an act which also caused the incident, then his claim of damages from the common carrier may be mitigated or may even be reduced to nothing.

The only cause that can ultimately exempt the common carrier from its liability is by proving the attendance of fortuitous events or inevitable acts; and such events or act is the proximate cause of the accident.