Liability of Tour and Charter Bus Operators
Call The Doan Law Firm today for experienced representation in your charter
According to the
American Bus Association, an industry trade group, "motorcoach [aka "bus"] operators
perform a variety of transportation services such as charters, retail
tours, scheduled service, sightseeing, local receptive operations, school
bus, package express and special operations."
In today's post, the commercial bus accident injury lawyer at
The Doan Law Firm explains how tour and charter bus operators may liable for injuries that
occur on their vehicles. He will then explain the legal options that may
be available to accident victims and their families. But first, a few
What are "tour" and "charter" buses
For our purposes, we can say that a "tour bus" is usually considered
to be a vehicle that transports passengers along a
set route to
specific destinations. Sometimes called "tourist" or "sightseeing" buses,
the better-known examples of these buses include the New York City "Landmark
Tours" and the Los Angeles/Hollywood "See the Movie Stars'
Homes"-style tours. Tour bus operators usually sell "tickets"
or "seats" to individual passengers.
A "charter bus" is a vehicle that is reserved for the
private use of a group, organization, or business. A "charter" is typically
hired to take people to a common destination of their choice instead of
traveling along a set route governed by a published schedule or timetable.
As a rule, the operator of a charter bus
does not collect a "fare" or similar charge from individual passengers,
but a business may charter a bus and then "resell" seats on
the bus to individual passengers.
Regardless of what their owners call them, the federal government calls
them "common carriers" if they an entity whose business transports
people or goods from one place to another for a fee regardless of whether
(or not) they engage in interstate commerce. A common carrier is also
liable for any injuries to its passengers or to anyone who is injured
because of its negligence.
Are tour and charter buses required to carry insurance?
In addition to complying with any number of both federal, state, and /
or local laws and regulations, tour and charter buses are required to
have certain amounts of insurance coverage in force at all times. According to the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if a bus carries over 16 passengers, the bus
must carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. If a bus carries
15 passengers, or fewer, it
must carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage. These insurance requirements
are waived if:
The vehicle transports
only school children and school personnel to and from school
The vehicle provides taxicab services
and having a seating capacity of less than 7 passengers
and is not operated on a regular route or between specified points
- It carryies less than 16 people in a single daily round trip commuting
to and from work
- It is operated by a motor carrier under contract to provide transportation
students for extracurricular trips organized sponsored, and paid for,
by a school district
Note that even if not required by law to carry insurance coverage, all
of the above are still expected to comply with any and all laws or regulations
that may apply to their operations.
Notable tour / charter bus accidents
Someone once observed that tour and charter bus accidents are similar to
aircraft accidents: infrequent, but very nasty when they do occur. While
that remark may sound a bit crass, there is some truth in the statement.
In the following section we present some of the more "newsworthy"
tour and charter accidents from the last several years.
April 5, 2018: A bus transporting patrons to the Masters Golf Tournament
rolled over on I-20 just west of Augusta GA, injuring 15. The bus driver,
who was later reported by passengers to have been driving erratically
since leaving Atlanta over 2 hours earlier, was charged with DUI.
March 8, 2017: A charter bus in route to a casino in Biloxi MS became stuck
at a railroad crossing and was struck by a train. Four people were killed
in the accident, although an NTSB investigation cleared the bus driver
October 23, 2016: In the early morning hours, cross-country trucker Bruce
Guilford had stopped in the right-hand lane of I-10 near Palm Springs
while police cleared a traffic accident. After he fell asleep, police
allowed traffic flow to resume but Guilford did not awaken. Shortly afterward,
a tour bus returning to the LA area rammed into the parked semi, killing
13 and injuring dozens. Guilford was later charged with 13 counts of manslaughter
although the initial investigation revealed that the buses' owner
had multiple traffic violations in th years prior to the accident.
March 12, 2011: The driver of a charter bus returning to NYC's Chinatown
from a day trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut lost control
of his vehicle as he tried to avoid a semi-truck rig on I-95 South near
the city limits. Thirteen passengers died at the scene and another died
at a local hospital. The remaining eighteen passengers and the driver
suffered serious injuries.
Injured in a tour / charter bus accident? Contact a commercial bus accident lawyer!
In future posts we plan to examine the commercial bus industry in more
detail and will concentrate our first series of articles on the rapidly-expanding,
and poorly-regulated, "party bus" operations that are gaining
a reputation as "rolling bars" with very poor safety records.
In the interim, if you were injured in a tour / charter bus accident and
are unsure about how to protect your legal right to compensation, we invite
you to contact the commercial bus accident injury lawyer at
The Doan Law Firm to arrange a free review of the circumstances of your accident and suggestions
on what you should do next.
When you contact our firm, your first consultation with us is always free
and does obligate you to hiring us to represent you in court. Should you
later decide to have us manage your injury lawsuit, we are always willing
to assume full responsibility for your case in exchange for a negotiated
percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.