Party Buses Owe The Highest Duty Of Care To CustomersA Party Bus is a Common Carrier
50 young adults including several armed violent felons, dozens of bottles of liquor, disco lights flashing, disco lights flashing, and a full-time dump truck driver trying to make extra money driving an old bus modified with perimeter seating circling the beltway at 1 in the morning, what could go wrong? That factual scenario occurred and it is outrageous. Unfortunately, it takes a skilled party bus lawyer to uncover these facts. Party buses are often the most dangerous commercial motor vehicles because they are frequently owned and operated by companies whose primary business is providing limo services. Limo companies are often asked to service larger events that a stretch limousine is unable to accommodate. These party bus events are almost always on the weekend. The limo company is probably not owned and operated by a person that has driven a full size bus in their career. The party bus market is often supplied by small limo companies that take the following steps:
- The company buys an old bus and converts into a party bus by replacing standard seats with perimeter seats and adding a sound system.
- The limo company most likely does not have a trained bus mechanic on staff.
- The party bus is often the only vehicle in the fleet that requires a CDL.
- The party bus is almost exclusively used on the weekends so the company hires a CDL driver that probably has a full time job as a CDL driver.
This business model increases the chances that the bus is poorly maintained, inadequately inspected and prone to mechanical failures. The driver is hired on a contract basis by a company that is expecting the driver to be the expert on safety. Hiring a driver to work part-time on the weekends increases the chances that the driver is exceeding the maximum number of safe driving hours permitted under federal law. The removing and reconfiguring of seats increases the chances that the company will accept paying guests up to the buses stated capacity before the seating was changed. The installation of a sound system and disco lights coupled with a fatigued driver impairs the ability of the party bus company to monitor passenger behavior. As a result of this dangerous mix a party bus lawyer has to bring together multiple areas of law to find the safety violations that led to an accident or led to a passenger being violently attacked.
A party bus sells excitement and fun. A party bus is still subject to a historic legal duty that goes all the way back to English law. Well before America was colonized the English legal system grappled with people that were injured while staying at an Inn or while being taken by a horse drawn carriage. The English courts recognized that customers were essentially surrendering their freedom and placing their safety in the hands of an innkeeper or a driver. This led to the innkeeper and common carrier heightened duty.
Maryland has adopted this common carrier law and applies it to anyone who engages in public transportation of persons for hire. A common carrier is required to use the utmost degree of care, skill and diligence in everything that concerns its passenger’s safety. The application of the common carrier duty is premised on transporting passengers. If a party bus stays at a fixed location these duties would not apply. The typical party bus trip involves transportation from or to an event. This triggers the heightened duty.
Patterson Law offers free consultations to discuss your party bus accident injury case. Maria or George Patterson are available for consultations at our Bowie or Annapolis offices.