People rely on buses every day — to get around locally or to take them to faraway places. Unfortunately, we often see news reports of a commercial over-the-road bus driver’s falling asleep at the wheel and causing a multi-victim wreck, or a school bus accident which injures innocent young passengers, or a transit driver’s hurrying to his next destination and causing a serious accident.
Pikeville, KY, bus accident lawyer Billy Johnson believes that all who harm others should be held accountable for their actions. This includes a negligent bus driver and, if appropriate, the company that employs the driver. If you’ve been injured on or by a commercial bus, or have a child who was injured in a school bus accident, we can help if you call 606-433-0682 or fill out our online form to discuss the details of your accident for free and find out your rights.
Despite their overall safety features, school buses, and comfortable intercity buses still are involved in accidents that seriously injure passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and even pedestrians. And the damage done by these wrecks is invariably greater than that sustained in smaller passenger vehicle wrecks due to the number of injuries and the very high amount of property damage. Why is this?
The first obvious difference between buses and cars is the size and weight of the bus itself. A fully loaded bus weighs nearly 50,000 pounds and could easily “total” a sedan or SUV and kill or maim its passengers. Most buses don’t have seat belts, so the odds of passengers being injured in a crash are high.
Bus and car accidents also differ in terms of liability. In an auto accident, the drivers are typically liable in the event of injury. But in a school bus crash, the state is responsible for injuries to passengers. Even though school buses, appear to be safe modes of transportation, serious accidents still occur
Major intercity bus operators, such as Greyhound or Trailways, are required by law to carry multimillion-dollar liability insurance policies. And liability may rest on the shoulders of any one – or more – of the following:
- The driver.
- Other drivers who may have caused the wreck.
- The company that runs the bus operation.
- The people within the company who may not have adequately hired or trained the driver.
- The driver’s employer may be liable for improper supervision if it did not respond to a driver’s health issue which might have caused a serious accident.
- If mechanical failure caused the wreck, those who maintain the bus maybe liable.
- If a defective part caused the wreck, the manufacturer of the part maybe liable.
Bus Driver Fatigue and Damages Available to Victims
Overworked bus drivers can cause fatigue-related accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatigue-related crashes (also known as “drowsy driving”) which are reported to law enforcement annually is a shocking 100,000; many involve professional drivers of commercial buses and big rigs. NHTSA also reports that each year the average number of deaths attributed to drowsy driving accidents is 1,550, with 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary damages each year.
Some of the damages that may be available to those involved in an intercity bus accident include:
- All current and future medical expenses
- Lost current and future income
- Pain and suffering
- In the event of wrongful death, the victim’s funeral and burial expenses, as well as family survivor damages, such as spousal loss of intimacy, along with emotional and financial support to surviving children
- Punitive damages, if circumstances warrant
Unique Aspects of Bus Accident Claims and Cases
Most buses are owned by businesses or government entities which have a lot of financial backing. And in some instances, especially in the case of school buses, the owners might have certain immunities or protections from civil claims and lawsuits. This means that the families of injured schoolchildren must jump through several bureaucratic hoops just to be able to recover damages to pay their children’s medical bills, receive compensation for pain and suffering and pay for disabilities that may follow them the rest of their lives. It’s not something that just any law firm can effectively – and successfully – manage.
Under the law, commercial buses are classified as “common carriers.” In legal terms, a common carrier is any type of vehicle which serves the general public by transporting anyone who pays the required fare. This is a good for injured passengers in commercial bus accidents. This is because the legal duty of a common carrier is much higher, and negligence is easier to prove. The law requires common carriers to provide a higher standard of care to their passengers than other types of vehicle-related personal injury lawsuits.
Don’t Accept that Lowball Settlement — Instead, Call an Experienced Bus Accident Attorney
Due to that higher duty of care and the power of common carrier defendants, when you are injured riding a bus, you will most likely be offered a settlement that is so low it cannot come close to meeting your financial needs. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced bus accident attorney before agreeing to or signing anything from a bus company’s insurance carrier.
You need your own legal advocate working to secure the best possible compensation for your injuries. You and our team can get started immediately once you contact us by filling out this free case evaluation form or call us at 606-433-0682.