Texas injury law holds party buses accountable in certain circumstances.
Party buses are a good idea in the way that they keep drunk people from driving, but many of these buses promote a level of lawlessness that can lead to injuries. The company that owns the party bus is not devoid of responsibility, irrespective of what their waivers say, but holding them liable requires the application of some lesser-known Texas legal principles.
In this article, we'll look at what a party bus is exactly and what legal duties the bus has to it's occupants.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is a party bus?
- What happens if I've been injured on a party bus?
- What happens if a drunk person is injured on a party bus?
- Is the driver of a party bus liable for injuries to passengers?
What is a party bus?
If you've spent any time in Addison, Texas, you've probably witnessed a pub crawl (people touring multiple bars over the course of the evening, usually traveling by foot or public transportation). In Addison in particular, well-organized pub crawls rent a charter bus to carry the participants from one bar to the next. That's a great idea, generally speaking, since it allows revelers the opportunity to enjoy alcohol while mitigating the likelihood of drunken driving. So, in principle, we've got no issue with buses transporting people to and from drinking expeditions.
But that's not how a party bus works. Most party buses are like a night club on wheels. It's not uncommon for these buses to contain stripper poles, wet bars, and some even have pools.
While, in principle, there is nothing inherently wrong about a bus that is decked out like a night club, much like an actual nightclub, how right or wrong their operation is deemed to be is a matter of how closely they follow the law. Just the same way that some bars and nightclubs will break every rule under the sun (serving minors, over-serving patrons, etc.), so too will many party buses. In fact, we'd be bold enough to say that the allure of most party buses is the "anything goes" atmosphere that they're selling.
Much like the stripper who's working his way through med school, the Loch Ness Monster, and other fabled creatures, we suppose that there can also be a party bus company that follows the rules and genuinely cares about the safety of their passengers. Unfortunately, in our line of work, we've exclusively met the other kind. The kind that appear to have nothing but sheer disinterest in the safety of their customers. The kind that are all too willing to see waivers not as a tool ward off frivolous claims, but as a license to get away with anything. These are the party buses we have a problem with, and they're everywhere.
Though we do not advocate complete abstinence from alcohol, there are aspects of drinking that we believe are too dangerous and fraught with potential for harm that they constitute bad practices. For instance, some bars have drinking games and keg stands and other frat boy musings unbecoming of a licensed professional seller of alcohol. When we hear of such practices, we can't help but wonder if that's really a good idea. To that end, is it really a good idea to have a metal box that mixes drinking, dancing, a lack of seat belts, and an "anything goes" environment, and then put wheels on that box and set it loose on Texas highways?[iparticle id=1]
Common law duties a party bus has to the people on-board:
There are legal duties established in common law that the party bus owes it's occupants. Those include:
- Maintaining order on the bus - If you're on a city bus, a drunk person gets on boards and harasses you, the driver likely isn't responsible for that incident. But when you're on a bus that specifically caters to drunk people, they inherently assume some degree of responsibility for maintaining order on the bus. As such, there are many scenarios wherein the driver or owner of a party bus can be held liable for conduct that the rest of the world would not be held accountable for.
- Ensuring that the bus is sufficiently drunk-proof - Imagine you work at a nursing home, and you exclusively take care of people who are wheelchair bound. If you were to take several of your patients on an outing that involved a bus ride, surely you would anticipate how they may be roll forward and back in their wheel chairs as the bus moves and bounces down the road. Surely, a jury would say that you were negligent if you failed to secure their wheelchairs and simply allowed your patients to be carried about the cab of the bus wherever the g-forces may take them. If yo think about why you would liable under such circumstances (since the fact that they will roll into one another or slam into the bus's walls and seats is completely foreseeable), then you can see how party buses may bear liability for not taking reasonable measures to create a safe space for drunk customers (who will surely be prone to falling and tumbling). Drunk people are known for losing their balance, grabbing onto things to steady themselves, etc. So if a party bus isn't built with these considerations in mind, if there are hard surfaces or sharp edges for intoxicated patrons to fall onto, if leaning against the door or door handle can cause a patron to fall out of the bus, ect., then the party bus operators are failing to provide a reasonable degree of protection to their customers.
- Not permitting underage people to drink - Even if the party bus doesn't provide the alcohol on the bus, they still have an obligation to keep children from drinking. While it may sound absurd that these companies would ever allow such illegal conduct, we were recently involved in a matter where a bus full of high school students were allowed to drink on a party bus to such an extent that one of the children became unresponsive due to alcohol poisoning. What did the bus driver do? He dropped the kids off at the hospital and fled.
- If the bus sells alcohol, they must sell it responsibly - If the party bus provides alcohol for it's occupants and someone is injured as a result of intoxication, the party bus is likely responsible for that injury, just the same way that a bar or restaurant is under Texas law. If they are a licensed provider of alcohol, then they are a bar, for all intents and purposes.
- Responsibly serving free alcohol - Even if the party bus "gives away" the alcohol on board their bus, they still puts them in a possible position of liability if someone is injured due to intoxication. Why? Because charging admission and then giving away alcohol is the same as selling alcohol in the eyes of the law.
Give Grossman Law Offices a call.
If you feel that you have been injured due to the negligent conduct of an employee or other person on a party bus, you have a right to recover for your losses. Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices are dedicated to providing the best legal representation available to our clients. In order to discuss your potential lawsuit over a free consultation, contact Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000.
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