There was an unfortunate bus crash by a double-decker Megabus en route from Atlanta to Indiana yesterday and police are reporting that 35 passengers have been taken to the hospital. The preliminary reports are that the wire guardrail kept the bus from veering into oncoming traffic and saved countless more lives.
As the passengers of the Megabus crash get their bearings, one of the tough issue will be figuring out the layers of applicable insurance. Let’s break down where the insurance comes from and what the passengers should do.
1. If the crash was partially the Megabus driver’s fault:
At this point the police report is not out yet and no one has calculated the bus’s speed or assessed the reaction time and choices by the bus driver so only the passengers can say if the driver has responsibility. The police are indicating that the bus driver swerved and flipped th buss to avoid a prior collision in the roadway. Inherent in the analysis of liability will be an evaluation of whether the prior crash was well light, whether emergency vehicles were present and whether flashers were illuminated. Nonetheless, if we assume the Megabus driver has some legal liability, where do the passengers look for insurance coverage for their bills?
First the corporate insurance policy for Megabus will provide coverage to the passengers under the liability portion. That policy is at least $1,000,000. Moreover, because the bus is considered a common carrier, the driver is held to a higher standard of negligence than an ordinary driver.
Is the Crash also the fault of the driver’s in the prior crash?
Maybe. There is a strong argument that it is foreseeable that if you negligently case a crash on the interstate, another vehicle may come along an have a subsequent crash, if you do not get off of the road or take sufficient steps to warn oncoming drivers. If there is evidence to that effect, then the liability policy on the vehicle that is at fault for the first crash can have legal liability to the passengers on the Megabus. Since passenger vehicles have very limited insurance coverage, it is essential that any passengers on the bus put their own underinsured motorist insurance companies on notice. They should be sure to also notify the insurers of any resident relatives that live with them as well. The failure to give timely notice (as little as 30 days sometimes) can void the underinsured motorist coverage.
The passengers will also want to examine whether they have any medical payments or PIP coverage through their own policy or through the policy held by Megabus.