Bus accidents can result in terrible injuries to victims. Whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved in a bus collision, you must understand your rights as a bus collision victim. One of the most important rights is the right to pursue compensation, which a personal injury lawyer can handle on your behalf.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Like other types of accidents, bus accidents can happen at any time. Bus accidents happen for many of the same reasons as other vehicular collisions, but the following are some of the most common.
It’s not uncommon for bus drivers to become easily distracted, especially while they work long shifts. There is never a lack of distractions while on the road, but it’s up to bus drivers to minimize them and give their full attention to the task at hand.
Bus drivers can become distracted visually, meaning they’re not looking at the road as they drive. The most common visual distraction is texting and driving.
Manual distractions are also an issue for bus drivers, as these distractions take one or both of the driver’s hands off the wheel. This is especially dangerous because buses are not as easy to operate as cars, requiring both hands on the wheel at all times.
Finally, cognitive distractions take a bus driver’s full attention off the road. Daydreaming is one of the biggest issues for drivers.
When a bus driver becomes distracted, it can affect their ability to operate the bus safely. For example, if they take their eyes off the road, they may not see traffic ahead of them coming to a stop, giving them little to no time to slow down and causing a rear-end collision.
Speeding is dangerous for vehicles, but even more so for buses.
When a bus speeds, there are several consequences, including:
- Heightened potential for losing total control of the bus
- Increased stopping time and distance
- Greater impact in the event of a collision
It takes a lot more time and distance to safely stop a bus when they’re speeding, which means collisions are more likely to occur. Additionally, with a bus’s large size and weight, the impact of a speeding accident can cause much greater property damage and injury to victims.
Traffic Law Violations
Like everyone else, bus drivers must follow all traffic laws at all times. However, when bus drivers violate traffic laws, they increase the chances of causing an accident.
Actions like running stop signs and red lights and following too closely can put the bus driver, their passengers, and others on the streets in danger.
Bus drivers should never operate buses while tired, yet many do. Drivers can experience significant fatigue for several reasons, including lack of sleep, medical disorders, or certain medications.
Fatigue can have similar effects on the body as drinking, like difficulty concentrating. When a driver operates a bus while tired, it can substantially increase the likelihood of the driver causing a collision.
Bus Malfunctions and Defects
Sometimes, accidents are out of a driver’s control. Buses are complicated machines with many moving parts. At any given moment, something can go wrong and cause an accident.
Brake failure, steering issues, mechanical defects, and other issues can happen quickly, making it nearly impossible for drivers to maintain control over their buses. Defects and malfunctions are the cause of many bus collisions.
Lack of Driver Training and Experience
Bus drivers must receive training and a special commercial driver’s license (CDL) before taking to the streets. Bus drivers who lack the proper training, licensing, and experience do not have the skills and tools to safely operate a bus, putting passengers and others at risk of harm.
A Bus Crash Can Result in Serious Injuries
Victims of bus accidents regularly suffer extensive injuries. The kinds of injuries you may sustain in a collision often depend on the details of the accident and whether you’re a passenger, pedestrian, or occupant in another vehicle.
Certain buses do not feature proper restraints, like city buses. Additionally, when a city bus is packed with people, many passengers must stand. School buses do have seat belts, but usually, children are mostly unsupervised, meaning they don’t utilize the restraints. Lack of or failure to use safety features like seat belts can have serious repercussions in an accident.
Occupants in other vehicles have protection from safety features. Still, buses are much larger than most other vehicles and a collision can result in severe injuries.
Pedestrians have no protection in the event of a bus accident, leaving them vulnerable to suffering extensive physical harm. Based on the impact, pedestrians hit by buses may suffer injuries too great and succumb to their injuries.
Victims of bus accidents can sustain a wide variety of injuries that may include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Facial injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
Prompt medical care is best for bus accident injuries, as many of these injuries can develop and worsen if not properly treated. The more considerable your injuries, the more care you’ll require, increasing your damages.
How Bus Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
While many believe handling a bus accident claim is similar to a car accident claim, the two are entirely different. Bus collision claims present more challenges, requiring more time and effort to obtain fair compensation.
The most significant difference between bus accidents and auto collisions is the volume of injured victims. In car accidents, there are a small number of victims, often from one to three. Instead, in a bus accident, dozens of individuals may sustain injuries at once.
With the large number of victims, it can be tough to get financial recovery. The bus company or other liable party may face numerous compensation claims.
Because bus collision cases are harder to deal with, it’s beneficial to hire legal representation. With their knowledge, understanding, and experience, an attorney can give you the best chance of recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
Liability for Bus Collisions
Liability for a bus accident depends on the cause of the collision. One person alone can be responsible for your accident, or multiple parties may share liability.
Bus drivers have plenty of responsibility. They are not only responsible for keeping themselves safe but also their passengers and others on the road. If the driver’s negligent actions, like speeding and distracted driving, cause your accident, they can be held responsible.
Still, even if the bus driver caused your accident, you may hold their employer liable for your injuries and losses.
Bus companies are responsible for certain things, like hiring qualified drivers, handling regular bus maintenance, and enforcing safety protocols. If their negligence played a role in causing your accident, they should be liable.
Governmental transportation agencies own public transportation buses. If you’re involved in a bus accident with a city-owned bus, you’ll need to pursue compensation from the government. This can be particularly difficult and requires the special skill of a bus accident lawyer.
Bus accidents may result from another motorist’s negligent driving behaviors. If another driver’s actions ultimately resulted in your bus collision, you can hold that party responsible for the wrongdoing.
Product Designers, Manufacturers, Distributors, or Retailers
If your bus accident is due to a product defect or malfunction, you may have the opportunity to hold designers, manufacturers, distributors, or retailers of that specific product accountable.
To determine what party is liable, you’ll need to investigate the cause of the defect and decipher which party’s actions caused it.
The Type of Compensation You Can Pursue After a Bus Accident
Along with getting justice for the wrongs done to you, seeking compensation is the primary reason to file a claim after a bus accident. You can pursue damages for your injuries and other monetary and non-monetary losses directly related to your collision.
Several factors affect what damages you can pursue and the value of your claim. However, the following are some of the most important damages you can recover.
Medical treatment is expensive, especially for accident injuries. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the treatment you need for your recovery, your finances may not allow you to keep up with your medical bills.
When you file a compensation claim, you can pursue medical expenses like:
- Ambulance transportation
- Emergency room visits
Getting compensation for past and future medical needs can help ensure you get proper care without worry of financial burdens.
Your injuries may require you to take time off from work. While you may have vacation and personal days stacked up, eventually, those days may run out, which means you’ll stop earning income until you can return to work.
You can seek compensation for your property damaged in your bus wreck, including your vehicle and other personal items. Financial recovery for property damage can help cover repairs or replacements.
If your bus accident injuries are severe, they may leave you with a permanent or temporary disability. A disability can make it difficult to earn a living and live life as you did before your accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering encompasses a variety of non-monetary losses that often result from accidents.
These can include:
- Physical pain and discomfort from your injuries
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety and depression
Essentially, these damages compensate for the physical, mental, and emotional impact of a bus collision. The worse your accident and resulting injuries, the more you may experience pain and suffering.
Taking Action After a Bus Crash
After you’ve figured out the exact cause of your accident, liability is clearer. Pursuing compensation for your accident-related losses depends on who’s at fault.
If your accident happens due to certain insured parties, like the bus company or another motorist, you can potentially pursue compensation through an insurance claim. Depending on your state’s laws, you can either file a first-party collision claim through your own insurance or a third-party claim through the at-fault party’s insurance.
Depending on the outcome of your insurance claim, you may or may not need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit in court is necessary under specific circumstances, such as when you cannot settle with the insurance company.
If a governmental entity is responsible for your accident, filing a claim can be more burdensome. Governmental entities have special legal protections making claims against them more difficult.
You’ll start by filing a notice of claim, putting the agency on notice of your injuries and losses. After filing notice, the governmental entity has six months to investigate your accident and accept or deny your claim.
Should they deny your claim or fail to answer within 180 days, you can file a lawsuit. In a claim against a governmental agency, you can settle the claim or go to court.
Determining how to take action and pursue monetary recovery after a bus collision can be one of the hardest parts of the claim process. Fortunately, a bus accident lawyer can get you on the path to financial compensation.
Consulting with a Bus Accident Attorney
Bus accident claims are highly difficult to navigate on your own, but you don’t have to. When you hire a bus accident lawyer, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your case is in skilled hands.
Among the many tasks your attorney can handle, they can evaluate and calculate your damages to ensure you get proper compensation for your losses.