The Trial Lawyer Winter 2018 - Page 91

A study conducted in 2017 by the Department of Transportation found that there are, on average, 486 school bus accidents every year in the state of Florida. On average, nationally, there are over 32,000 bus accidents of all types (school bus, tour bus, and so on) and at least over 300 facilities each year for the past five years. Buses are recognized as common carriers. A common carrier is any sort of vehicle which holds itself out to the general public as being willing to transport anyone who pays the necessary fare (for example, city, metros, or trolley buses). Common carriers differ from private carriers due to the fact that private carriers transport select groups of people, and do not hold themselves out to the general public (such as: Greyhound, charter, tour buses, etc.). Private carriers on the road have the duty to act as a reasonable person would do to make sure that passengers arrive at their destination uninjured. Common carriers, however, are required to demonstrate an even higher level of care, requiring the bus driver to go far above and beyond what a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances. Under §390.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), for-hire passenger transportation across state lines, even occasionally, and acceptance of any type of payment for transportation is considered “for-hire” and must comply with the rules of interstate commerce (FMCSR). The financial responsibility for “for-hire” interstate Passenger-Carrier Transportation is determined by the seating capacity of your vehicles. Vehicles with a seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers require $1.5 million of coverage, while vehicles with a seating capacity of 16 or more passengers require $5 million of coverage. There are exemptions and exceptions under the §390.3 that certain Passenger-Carrier Transportation may qualify under. The general For-Hire, Airport Transportation, Education-Related, Employer-Related, and Faith-Based-Organization-Related entities are not subject to FMSCA commercial regulations. These entities are defined further: A. General for-hire companies transporting passengers only within a commercial zone (geographical areas in and around cities that are designated by regulation); B. Highway transportation of passengers that is incidental to aircraft transportation confined to an area within a 25-mile radius of the boundary of the airport; C. Education-Related is divided into sub-parts of: (i) private schools and universities that receive no compensation for transporting passengers and are not available to the general public, (ii) transportation of students and teachers to or from The Trial Lawyer x 89