While buses are one of the safest forms of transportation, you may be surprised to learn that there are about 250 fatal bus accidents annually and more than 20,000 bus-related injuries across the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Bus transportation is a cost-effective mode for urban populations, students, airport travelers, and tourists, and the National Transportation Board reports that buses transport approximately 700 million passengers annually.
Although the total number of bus crashes is low at about 0.6% of total traffic accidents, bus crashes can happen for various reasons and result in injuries from minor cuts and lacerations to catastrophic spinal cord injuries. If you have been injured in a bus accident, it’s important to file a bus accident claim as soon as possible to receive compensation for your injuries and medical expenses.
If you’ve been in a bus accident, the personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates can help you seek financial recovery from all responsible parties. Our legal team will pursue all necessary civil action, so you receive the fair compensation you deserve.
Common Bus Accident Causes
One of several factors can contribute to a bus accident, and one or more parties can be held liable for damages, from the bus driver to the bus company, who have a duty of care to keep their passenger vehicles safe.
Driver fatigue is a serious problem that can lead to accidents and injuries. It contributes to approximately 15-30% of all vehicle crashes, with city bus drivers often working long hours with few breaks.
Drowsy driving can also influence drivers of intercity buses as the long stretches of rural roads combine with other dangerous conditions such as hazards like local wildlife or poor road quality. Taking certain medications can also increase the risk of accidents.
There are several ways to combat driver fatigue, including proper rest breaks, caffeine, and energy drinks. However, bus companies may pressure their drivers to work long stretches, or drivers may take it upon themselves to risk driving while tired.
Federal regulations dictate how many hours drivers can spend behind the wheel consecutively. Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles such as public and private buses can drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
Commercial driver experience plays a vital role in bus safety. The more years of experience drivers have on the road, the less likely they will be in an accident due to carelessness. Experienced drivers can also deal with passenger issues that can potentially contribute to accidents.
Reckless driving includes speeding and driving errors that increase the chances of a collision. Aggressive driving can arise from intoxication, personal issues, or a general disregard for the law.
Whether stemming from the bus driver or the driver of another vehicle, road rage can be dangerous for bus passengers. Flaring tempers can cause negligent drivers to behave irresponsibly, resulting in a crash or a rollover accident.
Regular maintenance is necessary for the proper operation of a vehicle with the sheer size of a bus, reaching as much as 45 feet in length. Poor maintenance of commercial vehicles can cause brake failure or engine malfunction.
Steering large motor vehicles like buses requires hydraulic power steering. A fluid leak can make a bus difficult to control, causing a collision.
Types of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents can involve transit buses, school buses, airport shuttles, private buses, or intercity coach services. They can occur due to driver negligence, a lapse in focus, or poor road conditions despite the driver exercising extreme caution.
School bus accidents
Statistics show that school bus accidents account for 40% of all buses in incidents with fatal injuries across the United States. This is an unfortunate fact, considering most passengers are children and adolescents.
Identifying the negligent parties allows an experienced attorney to file a claim and recover proper compensation for bus crash victims. Potential at-fault parties in school bus accidents include the school bus driver, school district, bus company, maintenance mechanic, and even the bus manufacturer.
Public bus accidents
Statistics from 2016 show that Chicago’s daily public bus ridership is over 800,000. With thousands of buses serving millions of people in Illinois, a traffic accident can result in severe injuries.
Passengers should seek legal counsel that can help them recover medical bills and property damage from the public transit agency or other liable parties.
Carrier bus accidents
A private company that provides a passenger transport service available to the public, known as a common carrier, has a duty of care to its passengers and its cargo. The carrier service must hire safe drivers, offer adequate training, and ensure proper bus maintenance.
Big private bus companies may try offering victims a lowball settlement to avoid paying victims of bus accidents the money they deserve. Hiring a personal injury lawyer guarantees that you pursue all civil legal actions and receive a fair settlement.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
Bus transportation is generally safer than other forms of travel, including passenger vehicles. However, catastrophic injury can result from a bus accident as passengers may not be wearing seatbelts or due to large objects crashing into the cabin through large windows. Bus accident victims may require medical care for a variety of injuries ranging from minor to severe.
Passengers often doze off on buses, making them less likely to brace for impact during a collision. Whiplash, a forcible rocking of the neck backward and forwards, is an injury that affects the nerves, muscles, tendons, and discs of the neck area.
Back and spine injuries
A spinal cord injury can be debilitating as it can affect your mobility partially or completely in the case of paralysis. Back and spine injuries can require painful surgery and costly rehabilitation.
Broken bones that a victim suffers during a bus collision can leave them in physical pain and unable to perform their daily tasks. With bone fractures taking 6-8 weeks on average to heal and some severe breaks needing several months for recovery, broken bones can result in big hospital bills.
Lacerations and deep cuts
Buses have big windows that can break into many shards and cause lacerations and cuts to passengers. It is important to get immediate medical attention to stop bleeding and remove any pieces of glass that find their way under the skin.
Traumatic brain injuries
Traumatic brain injury can occur during a sudden impact and cause disability or even death. Moderate cases can result in memory loss for several days. On the other hand, severe cases can require years of rehabilitation, and the victim may never achieve a complete recovery.
Under some circumstances, a bus collision can result in a fire. Passengers can suffer burns while trying to escape through one of the exits or a window. Severe burns may require multiple surgeries and grafts for the victim to restore their appearance as much as their case permits.
Loss of limb
Losing a limb is one of the catastrophic injuries a bus accident victim can suffer in a serious collision or rollover incident. Limbs can be severed or crushed during an accident, requiring amputation.
Adapting to life without a limb can require costly changes to your everyday life, such as installing ADA-accessible equipment and fixtures in your home and buying medical gear like electric lifts, wheelchairs, or crutches.
What to Do if You Are in a Bus Accident
If you are in a bus accident, you should seek medical help and contact law enforcement to make an official statement and create a police report. Try to help any passengers who require assistance and gather as much information about the incident as possible.
Start with the bus driver’s information, such as their name and driver ID number. Noting the license plate number should be enough to identify the driver if they flee the accident scene.
Since there are likely other passengers on the bus, speak with them and share contact information to stay in touch after you leave the scene. The other passengers can offer your bus accident lawyer more information and make eyewitness statements about the incident that may help prove your injury claim.
Take as many pictures and videos as you can of the scene, including other vehicles in the crash and the surrounding area. Note anything you find significant, like the driver’s condition, the road conditions, and even details that may not seem necessary. Sometimes even minor details can make a big difference in your legal claim.
Contact an Experienced Bus Accident Lawyer
Don’t accept a bus accident settlement from an insurance company before speaking with a personal injury attorney at Nessler & Associates. A qualified bus accident attorney with extensive experience can help you determine your legal options, get fair compensation, and recover damages for loss of wages and non-economic damages such as mental anguish and loss of consortium.
We work with you on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to worry about legal fees. Call our law firm today at 800-727-8010 for a confidential, free consultation.