Bus Accidents: Insurance Standards
Like any other motor vehicle on the road, a motorcoach or professional bus must be covered by a liability insurance policy. But the requirements for these policies are very different from the policy you have covering your own personal vehicle. There are unique characteristics about a for-profit bus business that must be taken into account when determining what sort of insurance is sufficient. Where a bus company intends only to operate within the boundaries of a single state, that state’s laws and statutes will describe the insurance requirements that must be met. If the bus company intends to operate between states, it must meet the federal government’s insurance standards as well.
Common Types of Insurance Coverage for Commercial Buses
There can be variation between the states in terms of the dollar amount that is appropriate for insurance coverage, but most laws and the federal regulations require the same types of insurance coverage:
- Motor vehicle insurance: This liability insurance covers the company in the event of a bus accident and is intended to provide compensation to any injured passengers. If the bus company carries 16 or more passengers (including the bus driver), the federal government requires $5 million in coverage. The coverage would go towards both the medical expenses of injured passengers, as well as any property losses they experienced. This would be on a “per occurrence” basis (that is, the insurance policy must provide for at least $5 million in compensation for each crash in which a bus of the company is involved). If there are fewer than 15 passengers (including the driver), the minimum amount is $1.5 million.
- General commercial insurance: This type of insurance would protect the carrier in the event of, say, a contractual dispute, an employment-related lawsuit or other general business activity that turns poorly for the business.
- Worker’s compensation insurance: This last type of insurance is meant to provide benefits to an employee who is injured or who becomes ill on the job. Worker’s compensation insurance protects the employer from lawsuits by its employees for injuries arising out of the employees’ work. For instance, a bus driver hurt in a bus accident would file a claim and obtain worker’s compensation benefits, as opposed to suing his or her employer for damages.
What if a Bus Company Does Not Have the Required Insurance?
You are unlikely to know whether a bus company is adequately insured until you are injured in an accident and attempt to recover compensation. As a practical matter, an accident in which the bus company or its driver is at fault can literally bankrupt a motor carrier, as the company can be held responsible for the damages suffered by injured passengers and other motorists.
If a state or the federal government becomes aware that a motor carrier does not have the insurance required by regulations, the motor carrier may be denied registration of its vehicles. In some extreme cases, the federal government has the ability to levy other sanctions against a motor carrier company that continues to operate despite not having sufficient insurance.
Zinda Law Group Can Help You After a Bus Accident
If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident, your immediate concern should be your own health (or your loved one’s health) and recovery. By contacting us right away, we can begin the difficult work of preparing and pursuing your compensation case, while you undertake the equally-difficult work of healing. Learn how the assistance of one of our bus accident attorneys can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you are facing after a bus accident. Contact our team at (800) 863-5312 to schedule a free initial consultation.