Buses are generally safe modes of transportation, and an accident involving a bus is less common than those involving cars or motorcycles. On the other hand, people still incur injury in bus accidents each year. Bus crashes often carry special legal considerations, so it’s helpful to understand your legal options before contacting an bus injury attorney about your personal injury claim.
Unique Aspects of Bus Crashes
Motor vehicle collisions have a wide range, from minor fender benders to catastrophic collisions that cause seriously debilitating injury. Bus accidents are no exception to the rule. Yet, there are also a few added risks associated with bus travel, including:
A lack of safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.
A higher tendency to rollover based on center of gravity.
While the risk of an accident in a bus might be lower than others, the chance of incurring serious injury is higher given these circumstances. If you or a loved one sustained injury in a bus accident, filing a claim will be different than a traditional process with a motor vehicle.
Legal Issues in Bus Accidents
If you’re involved in a car crash in Texas, you’ll file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to gain compensation. Bus crashes, however, don’t function the same way. If a bus driver is at-fault for a bus crash, then the laws are more complex. Bus operators are usually municipal employees, whether they’re employed by a school or the Department of Transportation. Claims against the government function differently than traditional third-party claims.
If you attempt to file a claim against a municipal body’s insurance and you receive a denial, you’ll have to file an injury claim. Personal injury claims against the government have stricter deadlines and procedures, so it’s essential to have an attorney familiar with area laws.
Common Causes of Bus Accident Injuries
Bus accidents happen for many of the same reasons other motor vehicle accidents happen. Driver inattention, aggressive driving, and moving violations are just a few common causes.
A distracted bus driver could easily cause an accident in several ways, endangering everyone on and around the bus. Distractions could include failure to pay attention to the road ahead, using a cell phone or electronic device while driving, or discussions with passengers while driving.
Any driver of a bus or other vehicle could potentially cause a serious bus accident by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs that interfere with the ability to drive safely.
Bus drivers offer transportation as a service to the public and therefore have a higher duty of care on the road than other private drivers. Aggressive driving could easily lead to criminal charges in addition to civil liability for victims’ personal injury claims.
If a bus driver runs a red light or commits another moving violation, the bus could strike and injure a pedestrian, cyclist, or another vehicle. Due to the size and weight of most buses, these accidents can cause a significant amount of damage.
In the event a design flaw in the bus or a defective vehicle part causes a bus accident, the manufacturer would bear liability for any product liability claims from the victims.
A third party such as another driver could cause a bus accident. For example, if a driver runs a red light as a bus passes from the opposite direction the collision could involve multiple vehicles and serious injuries.
In rare cases, the government agency responsible for the road where the bus accident occurred may be liable but pursuing a lawsuit against any government entity is very difficult and often impossible.
Who Is Liable for a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
Determining liability for a bus accident can be difficult in some cases. Bus drivers operating as common carriers, or organizations that provide public transportation as a paid service, have a higher duty of care than other private drivers. They must ensure the safety of both their passengers and those around them, and failure to do so may constitute negligence.
If a bus driver fails to properly handle the bus, lacks enough experience to avoid an accident, or engages in any overt negligent or illegal activity while driving, the driver and his or her employer could absorb liability for the resulting damages. In the event a defective part or vehicle flaw causes a bus accident, the manufacturer absorbs liability.
When a third party such as a private driver causes an accident with a bus, anyone injured would follow the typical procedure for filing insurance claims and/or personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault driver, and multiple drivers could potentially share liability for a bus accident.
Claims Against Government Agencies
If a bus accident happens due to road damage or a persistent unsafe condition on a road, the government agency responsible for maintenance of that road could be liable for the accident, but most government agencies have immunity from civil lawsuits.
The local government usually manages small roads and residential roads while the state handles state routes and larger roads. The federal government handles interstate highways across the country. You can file a claim for negligence, but the process and available recovery options are very different than a typical personal injury claim against a private party.
A lawsuit may not be an option if the liable party in your bus accident claim is a government entity, but these situations may offer alternative methods of recovery. If you can file a claim for damages against a government agency, your attorney can help you navigate the process and meet the often-strict filing requirements. Texas allows only six months to file a claim against a government entity for a personal injury claim such as a bus accident injury.
Your Next Steps: Contacting a Fort Worth Bus Accident Attorney
A personal injury claim will help you or your loved ones compensate for the expenses associated with a bus accident. These may include things like medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation. Personal injury claims also provide recompense for intangible costs of an accident such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any loss in your quality of life.
The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert has a reputation for helping victims of bus accidents gain compensation for their injuries. If you’re struggling to pay for the costs associated with your treatment and recovery, call our office for a free initial consultation. We’ll review the specifics of your case and help you decide on your next best steps. Our firm also offers services on a contingency-fee basis, which means you’ll only pay if we win a court judgment or settlement regarding your case.
Don’t let any filing deadlines pass you by. Talk to the experienced bus accident attorneys at the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert about scheduling your free case evaluation today.