Bus accidents are, fortunately, comparatively rare when measured against car and motorcycle accident statistics. Bus accidents comprise approximately four percent of all auto collisions each year. However, due to factors such as vehicle size and the number of involved victims in a single incident, the results of a bus accident can be more devastating than smaller-scale vehicular crashes. Victims of a bus-involved accident may be left with damages such as medical expenses, auto repair costs, or lost wages. It is important to understand how to protect your rights in the unfortunate event of a bus accident.
Defining a Bus Accident
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes statistics and definitions which help to distinguish, classify, and analyze the occurrence and effects of bus accidents. A “bus” is defined as any vehicle which can transport nine or more people, including the driver. Buses provide an essential service to many communities, and are typically classified as one of the following types:
- School Bus. In addition to providing transportation to and from school for school-aged minors, school buses are frequently utilized for field trips, sporting events, and other extra-curricular activities.
- City/Public Bus. Scheduled buses within a city or town often benefit commuters who make use of public transportation to get to work.
- Charter Bus. Unlike city buses, charter buses are privately owned and hired for a set fee, which often includes a professional driver.
- Shuttle Bus. Shuttle buses offer short-distance transportation options, such as between a hotel and an airport, and are often used by business travelers or tourists.
- Intercity/Tour Bus. Designed for longer-distance transportation, intercity buses, such as Greyhound, give passengers a public option for road-based travel.
- Wheelchair-Accessible Bus. A specialized vehicle which provides accommodation to people with physical disabilities, wheelchair-accessible buses often follow set routes to help clients commute between their homes and school, church, work, healthcare facilities, or community events.
In the event of a bus accident, cause can be challenging to determine. Unlike the more common auto crashes involving two or more privately-owned vehicles, bus accident liability decisions may need to take into consideration complex factors including:
- Driver negligence or error
- Driver training policies
- Reckless or distracted driving
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance policies
- Weather conditions
- Driver working hours and length of time on the road
- Pedestrian involvement
- Passenger behavior
- Actions of other drivers
- Vehicle blind spots
- Road conditions due to disrepair, construction, or upkeep
- Vehicle weight distribution
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you are involved in a bus accident, enlisting the aid of an experienced attorney will help expedite processes which provide supportive compensation and prevent future damage. A lawyer with a successful track record in bus accident cases will have the expertise to deliver benefit in multiple areas.
- Determining Cause. As previously mentioned, investigating the cause of a bus accident can be a complicated process. It may be determined that one party, or more than one party, should be held accountable. In some cases, a company will be found responsible for the faulty actions of a hired driver or mechanic. In other cases, an outside driver may be shown to have caused damage to a bus or injury to its driver and passengers. It is the duty of legal counsel to thoroughly investigate and appropriately hold a negligent party responsible for their actions.
- Supporting Victims. Due to size and lack of safety features, a bus accident can cause substantial physical damage to bus drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or people in other vehicles. Injuries may include lacerations or puncture wounds, spine, neck, or brain damage, burns, physical crushing, or loss of limbs. Injured parties have the right to seek legal representation, and a lawyer will help to recover damages for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.
- Preventing Accidents. Based on research conducted by the FMCSA, most bus accidents are preventable. Teams of legal investigators can play a critical role in averting and correcting circumstances which may increase the chance of accident, such as poor vehicle inspection practices, unsafe roads, inadequate safety features on vehicles, overworked or undertrained drivers, lack of appropriate traffic signage, or situations of dangerous weight distribution on buses.
- Ensuring Safety for Future Passengers. Because bus passengers are often vulnerable individuals such as school-aged children, wheelchair users, or elderly people unable to drive themselves, it is especially important to guard the safety of all future and current passengers. By helping to identify and eradicate negligence and misconduct, you and your lawyer can partner in establishing safe, sustainable practices for bus transportation.
Prince Law Firm Is on Your Side
Possessing vast foundational knowledge of the complexities of bus accident cases, we at Prince Law Firm are confident in our ability to advocate for victims of bus accident harm. We prioritize the rights of the injured, allowing you to focus on recovery while we seek justice in the aftermath of an accident. We are committed to promoting safety and security in both public and private bus transportation. If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident, we encourage you to contact our firm today for a free claim evaluation.