Tour buses are a common sight in Los Angeles, and one of the most popular such rides is a double-decker bus with its upper level open to the sky. Perhaps because of their large size, such buses are rarely considered to involve the hazards of a car accident, but a recent jury verdict in Los Angeles County Superior Court may change that perception.
On Oct. 27, 2013, the plaintiff was riding on the upper level of a tour bus operated by Starline Tours. While the bus was traveling on Venice Boulevard at 2:00 a.m., the plaintiff stood up and was struck by a branch on an overhanging tree. She suffered permanent double vision and disfiguring facial injuries. The jury found that the bus company was at fault and awarded the plaintiff $3.5 million in damages.
The bus company's attorney argued that the woman contributed to her own injuries by standing up and by consuming alcohol during the ride. The plaintiff's attorney contended that the bus company had been negligent in failing to provide adequate training to its drivers, failing to provide supervision on the upper level of the bus and failing to check for overhanging hazards such as tree branches. The plaintiff's lawyer also rebutted the claim that the plaintiff had been negligent because she had been drinking. He argued that even a person who was "stone cold sober" would have been struck by the branch.
In one sense, this incident could be regarded as a freak accident. On the other hand, bus companies and other transportation firms that sell their services have an obligation to protect their passengers against injury. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a public passenger carrier would benefit by consulting a lawyer who specializes in such cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law that will determine the outcome and a useful evaluation of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Source: Los Angeles Independent, "Woman wins verdict against tour bus firm," Independent wire services, Nov. 20, 2015