If you have ever taken the bus, you’ve undoubtedly had the thrilling experience of grabbing onto whatever you can find when the bus suddenly pulls away before you can find a seat. However, this can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable and older people, as slipping or falling on a bus can lead to severe injuries.
There are plenty of cases where buses pull off suddenly while passengers are still finding their feet, so to speak. But what is the law on this? Should bus drivers wait until passengers are seated before driving off?
This article will explore the rules and regulations surrounding this topic. We will also explain your legal rights if you suffer an injury caused by a reckless bus driver.
What are the bus drivers’ duties and safety standards?
When a bus driver pulls away smoothly and at a reasonable speed, it is generally safe for you and your fellow passengers, even if you are not seated. And this is not against the law, as bus drivers don’t have to wait until passengers are seated before they set off from a bus stop. However, bus drivers do have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety.
A bus driver should always be aware of the passengers and be fit to drive. If you fall and suffer an injury while walking to your seat on a bus, the bus driver or company could be liable for a bus accident claim if the driver has driven recklessly. However, if the driver acted reasonably and you fell simply due to the bus being in motion, you would unlikely be eligible to claim.
Special care for vulnerable passengers
While the bus driver’s duty is solely focused on the safety of the passengers, some passengers need further assistance and care from drivers. Some passengers may be more prone to injuries and trips than others.
Vulnerable passengers include the elderly, disabled, children, passengers carrying babies, pregnant women, and travellers with excessive baggage. If you fall within any of these vulnerable categories and have been injured because the bus driver didn’t give you sufficient time to take a seat, you would be more likely entitled to compensation. This could help you to take care of any medical bills, treatment costs or loss of income due to the injury.
If it is not immediately apparent that you may be a vulnerable passenger, it may not be reasonable for the bus to know unless you communicate with them. For example, if you have a prosthetic limb or balancing issues, you should inform the bus driver as you get on the bus. They should then ensure you have sufficient time to find a seat or at least a rail to hold on to.
Are bus drivers negligent when driving off before passengers are seated?
The safety duty of bus drivers is set out in The Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990. The regulations state that a driver shall take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of passengers who are on, entering, or leaving a vehicle. If you have been injured by a driver who was not following their duty, you may very well be eligible to make a bus accident compensation claim.
Without an admission of liability, the only way to determine whether a driver was negligent is to investigate whether the driver took reasonable precautions. Your solicitor must provide evidence, such as bus security camera footage and witness statements to show that the bus driver failed to take reasonable care. Without any evidence of negligence on the part of the bus driver, it may be difficult to prove liability.
How to safeguard yourself when entering a bus
If you are not classified under the vulnerable passenger category and have not spoken to the driver, you should try to get seated as soon as possible. Also, proceed with caution if you are rushing to your seat to prevent tripping and falling – which is possible even if the bus is standing still.
If you trip and fall of your own accord, you will not be able to claim for your injury as it is not the fault of the driver or the bus company. However, if you tripped due to a defect on the bus, such as damaged flooring, you could hold the company responsible for your injuries and make a compensation claim.
Can you claim for an injury that occurred due to not being seated?
As bus drivers are not expected to wait for all passengers to sit down before driving off, you usually need to fall under the vulnerable passenger’s classification to be eligible for compensation. That said, other factors mentioned above might make it possible for you to seek compensation, as long as you have a plausible case proving negligence from the driver.
If you fall under the category of protected individuals and advise the driver that they should wait until you take your seat, you could claim compensation. All public transport buses in the UK are equipped with CCTV, which can be used in any personal injury claim against a bus driver or company.
What if you get injured inside a bus from an accident with other vehicles?
If you have been injured on a bus due to an accident with another vehicle, you will most certainly be able to claim compensation, no matter who’s at fault. Your claim would be made against the bus company if the bus driver was at fault. Otherwise, it would be made against the driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident.
If the other driver involved in the accident does not stop or is uninsured, the injury claim could be made with the Motor Insurers Bureau. Whether you were seated or not, bus accident claims are generally easier when they involve another vehicle, as passengers will have a right to claim compensation regardless of who was at fault.
How will compensation help for my accident on a bus?
If your personal injury claim is successful, the compensation awarded will cover any medical expenses you’ve had to pay due to the injury. Although the NHS covers most medical treatments, you might have to pay for prescriptions, painkillers, physiotherapy or other rehabilitation treatments.
In many cases, you may also need to take some time off work due to your injuries, which could cause you further financial harm. However, your compensation amount will take this into consideration as well, so you should not be left out of pocket.
How much compensation can I claim for an injury?
As with most personal injury claims, providing a precise ballpark figure is difficult, as each claim is unique. The amount you can claim will depend on multiple factors, including the type and severity of your injury and the financial losses you have suffered as a result.
It is therefore essential to consult with a solicitor to determine whether you will be eligible for a claim and the possible compensation amount you could expect. Bus incidents can be tricky, so a personal injury lawyer should be your first port of call to ensure you receive the full compensation you are entitled to.
Please be seated
If you have been injured on a bus due to a negligent bus driver, we can connect you with experienced personal injury solicitors who can fight in your corner.
For assistance with making a no win no fee personal injury claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Alternatively, enter your details into our online claim form, and a friendly legal adviser will give you a call back to discuss your case.