Bus accidents do not occur that frequently, but when they do happen, they can lead to massive death and destruction. Buses are the only type of passenger vehicle where occupants do not have to wear seatbelts. Without safety belts, the bodies of bus passengers do not remain in their seats when an accident occurs. Instead, they move around inside the bus, often leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
Fortunately, the raw number of bus accidents across the nation has continued to decrease over time. However, several hundred people die in bus accidents each year across the United States. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that over 270 people died from fatal injuries in bus accidents in 2017, and another 25,000 bus accident victims sustained serious injuries.
After suffering injuries in a bus accident, you may be unsure about your next steps. We are here to help. Our skilled legal team has more than 25 years of experience representing clients in personal injury claims, including those involving bus accidents.
All Types of Buses Get in Accidents
Bus drivers have a legal obligation to operate their buses safely, regardless of whether they are operating a city bus, commercial bus, or school bus. That means, among other things, consistently obeying all traffic regulations and complying with signs, signals, and other traffic control devices.
Although a bus driver’s legal obligation to uphold a duty of care to their passengers and others on the roadway doesn’t change, how attorneys go about determining liability after a bus accident often hinges on the type of bus involved in an accident.
Accidents on City Buses
Bus accidents that occur on city buses or other buses operated by a public entity are more common than accidents on other types of buses. Bringing a bus accident injury claim against a government entity, though, is far from easy. Suing the government for a personal injury matter often requires special procedures and involves complex legal issues.
The extent to which these claims become problematic highly depends on the state laws where the bus accident occurred. In some states, government entities have immunity, making it difficult or impossible for you to hold a city or other entity liable for a bus accident victim’s injuries unless a specific law allows victims to take legal action. In other cases, passengers who were injured in a bus accident are allowed to bring a claim, but statutes might cap the amount of compensation they can receive.
Accidents on Commercial Buses
Commercial bus lines like Megabus, Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus, and Trailways fall under the umbrella of a common carrier. This means simply that the organization transports an individual for a fee. Common carriers have a legal obligation to provide safe transport to bus passengers, and they cannot pass that obligation onto their customers.
Commercial bus lines are private operations, so they don’t have immunity when a bus accident occurs the way a government entity might. In fact, the vast majority of accidents on commercial buses occur because of the bus operator’s negligence or poor choices behind the wheel. Victims who suffer injuries in a commercial bus accident have the right to seek compensation for damages by bringing a lawsuit against the bus line.
Accidents on School Buses
School bus accidents are rare, but they do happen. Every year, thousands of students suffer injuries in school bus accidents, and dozens tragically lose their lives.
Liability in school bus accidents depends on who owns the bus, who is responsible for maintenance, and who is responsible for hiring and training the bus drivers. In some states, counties or school districts own their buses. In other states, private companies own school buses and provide transportation for students in a particular district.
Depending on the situation, you may or may not run into governmental immunity issues if your child suffered injuries or died in a school bus accident. Your attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action to recover compensation.
Other Motorists Also Cause Bus Accidents
Not all bus accidents occur as a result of negligent bus drivers. Sometimes the negligent driving of other motorists causes a bus accident. When drivers in passenger vehicles cause a bus accident, they open themselves up to financial liability for injuries and losses experienced by each passenger.
Passengers who pursue a claim against the at-fault driver might not receive the full amount of compensation they deserve, especially if several people suffered injuries. In some cases, your attorney can help you bring a claim against the bus driver’s insurance company even if another motorist was the one primarily at fault. You might also have the option of seeking a payout through any underinsured coverage included in your own auto insurance policy.
Get the Legal Help You Need After a Bus Accident
If you have sustained injuries in a bus accident, contact a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience handling the unique issues often present in bus accident cases. These claims often involve complex legal issues that require the skill and knowledge of an experienced bus accident attorney.