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With increases in traffic congestion and car care costs, more and more people are using mass transportation. In Colorado, particularly in Denver’s metropolitan area, public buses are used by people for work, shopping and other trips every day. There are also airport shuttles, school buses, tour buses, casino buses and other mass-transit vehicles in regular use on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, with all the buses out there, accidents do happen, and they can be devastating. Read on to learn more about a bus driver’s duty of care and what that means if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a bus accident.

A bus driver’s duty of care

A “duty of care” is essentially a legal obligation to be careful when performing acts that have the potential to harm others. A bus is considered a “common carrier,” which is a person or public utility—such as a city bus—whose regular business is transporting freight and/or people. This is an important distinction because under state law, a common carrier owes its passengers more protection and a greater duty of care than an ordinary vehicle. They must be driven with extreme care and protect both passengers and the other vehicles sharing the same roads.

Despite this higher level of legal responsibility, bus drivers don’t always drive safely or receive proper training. Most buses are larger and weigh more than your average car, so the consequences of a traffic accident can be devastating. With the higher duty of care, bus accident victims sometimes stand a better chance of proving their case for compensation than they would in an accident involving ordinary vehicles.

Victims need to act quickly

Many buses in Colorado are operated or owned by local governments, such as the Regional Transportation District buses. Because of this, a bus driver may be a government worker and the bus company might be a governmental entity. State law requires that all government entities must get prompt notice of any possible claim against them, and this includes a bus accident injury claim.

In fact, under the law, an injured person has to provide written notice to the government entity within 180 days of the event. This notice must include the names and addresses of the victim and his or her attorney, a statement covering the facts of the accident, the names and addresses of any public employees involved, a brief statement of the extent and nature of the injury, and the amount of damages being requested. If an injured person fails to provide proper notice to a governmental bus company, he or she could lose the claim, so it’s important that victims act quickly even if they’re certain the driver did not meet the duty of care.

If you’ve been involved in a bus accident in Colorado, consider seeking the help of an experienced attorney. Dealing with a government, a bus company and the insurer after a bus crash is not the same as it would be for an accident involving a private passenger vehicle, so you need to act to protect your rights.

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