Bus crash in Schuykill County highlights issue of liability

While a car accident can certainly lead to tragedy even if it is a single-vehicle crash, a serious bus accident can also lead to extreme tragedy as it is likely there are many more people involved in a bus crash. One bus crash in central Pennsylvania demonstrates how devastating bus accidents can be and highlights the issue of liability in a bus accident.

Bus goes off an exit ramp in central Pennsylvania

Several weeks ago, a bus traveling on Interstate 81 in Schuykill County drove off an exit ramp and crashed. According to the crash report, the bus driver lost control of the vehicle. The bus went across the center guide rail and straight off the ramp into a thicket of trees.

Approximately 30 people on the bus suffered injuries in the crash. Six of these individuals were in critical condition following the crash. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in the crash. A Pennsylvania State Police reconstruction team is working to determine the cause of the accident.

Who is liable when a bus accident occurs?

While liability in this recent bus crash has not been determined, we can discuss one concept that may come up: the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.”

When there is a bus crash it is easy to pinpoint the bus driver as a party responsible for the crash. However, under respondeat superior the bus driver’s employer may also be responsible for the crash, as they are legally responsible for the wrongful actions of the bus driver.

State law varies on how to prove respondeat superior applies to a case. One test often employed is the “characteristics test.” Under this test, if the worker’s action is common for the occupation that they are hired for to the extent that it is a characteristic of the job, the worker is considered an employee and worker’s employer may be held responsible for damages resulting from the worker’s wrongful acts. Note that respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors.

Ultimately, liability is determined on a case-by-case basis

In the end, liability for a bus crash must be determined on a case-by-case basis and we do not know who will be held responsible for the Schuykill County bus crash. However, it is important to identify all possible defendants when pursuing a lawsuit. This way, all responsible parties can be held accountable for the damages suffered.