Who is Liable if I am Injured in an Accident with a Bus?October 25, 2021
Buses are large vehicles that can cause extensive property damage and severe personal injury if they hit a passenger vehicle, particularly if the bus is traveling at a high speed. Like truck accidents, when a passenger vehicle is involved in a car wreck with a bus, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicle that often suffer the most serious injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. Whether it is a school bus taking children to and from school, a transit bus that commuters use to get to and from work, or a chartered bus used for longer trips, public and private buses are generally safe, but accidents do happen. If you are injured in a bus accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. A skilled accident lawyer can assist you with the claims process and ensure that you reach the best possible settlement outcome.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), bus and truck accident injuries increased by over 60 percent between 2009 and 2015, and fatalities increased by 40 percent between 2009 and 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected school bus crash data from 2004 to 2013, which revealed the following key findings:
- Of the 327 school-age children who died in school bus-related accidents, 54 were occupants of the school bus, 147 were occupants of the other vehicle involved, 116 were pedestrians, nine were bicyclists, and one was another non-occupant.
- Over 70 percent of the people who suffered fatal injuries were the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in the accident.
- There were 1,344 people killed in school bus-related accidents during this period, which is an average of 134 fatalities per year.
What are the Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents?
If you are involved in a bus accident, identifying the cause of the accident is one of the first steps in determining who is liable for the accident. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of bus accidents:
- Bus driver negligence: Bus drivers have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road; take the required number of breaks while on duty; and avoid unsafe driving behavior such as distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding and drowsy driving. School bus drivers must use extreme caution when children are crossing the street, particularly when young children are crossing right in front of the bus, which is one of the bus’s blind spots. Many serious bus accidents are preventable if the bus driver did not engage in negligent driving behavior.
- Bus company negligence: If the bus company fails to inspect the fleet, make the necessary repairs, and ensure that they are equipped with seat belts and other safety equipment, this can increase the risk of a serious yet avoidable accident. In addition, if the company does not conduct the necessary background checks on prospective drivers and provide adequate training, they may be held liable for any bus accidents that occur.
- Bad weather or poor road conditions: Inclement weather such as rain, snow, ice, fog, or extreme sun glare can cause very dangerous driving conditions. Bus drivers must receive the necessary training to know how to safely operate the bus and take the necessary safety precautions to avoid a serious accident.
What Types of Evidence can Help Prove Negligence?
To prove that a bus driver was negligent, you must be able to show that they owed you a duty of care, that they breached their duty, and that the breach in duty resulted in damages. All motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road and avoid unsafe driving behavior. If a bus driver was texting or talking on the phone, or speeding at the time of the accident, this is a breach in the duty of care. The following are examples of evidence that can be used to prove negligence:
- Expert testimony: If necessary, your accident lawyer will call on an expert witness who can provide testimony about how your injuries were caused by the bus driver’s negligent behavior. Examples of expert witnesses may include medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and transportation investigators.
- Eyewitness testimony: If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, they can provide valuable testimony about the events leading up to the collision. For example, if someone saw the bus driver texting or weaving in and out of lanes, this can help prove negligence.
- Photographs: If you are able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, skid marks and debris on the road, and anything else that may help prove that the bus driver caused the accident.
- Inspection records: Your lawyer may obtain copies of the bus company’s inspection records to determine whether there is any evidence that the carrier failed to properly maintain the bus or make the necessary repairs, which would be evidence of negligence.
- Negligence per se: This is a legal concept that defines an act as negligent if it violates a law that has been designated to protect the people. It essentially eliminates the duty and breach aspect of a negligence claim. Your accident lawyer may demonstrate that the bus company or the bus driver committed negligence per se by disregarding the regulations that are meant to protect people such as yourself.
How can an Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Bus accidents can be extremely traumatic experiences, considering the size and weight of the average bus. If you suffered a serious injury, the costs associated with the injury, including medical expenses, physical therapy, lost wages, and prescription medications, can accumulate very quickly. Therefore, it is important that you have a dedicated legal team on your side who will work tirelessly to secure the best possible settlement outcome. The following are just a few ways that a personal injury lawyer can help you with your case:
- Identify the liable parties: Depending on the details of your accident, there may be more than one liable party. For example, if the bus driver and the bus company shared responsibility for the accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against both parties.
- Determine damages: You may be entitled to economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. This can be a complicated process, particularly for non-economic damages, which are more difficult to quantify. An experienced accident lawyer will assist you with this process and secure the maximum damages that you are entitled to receive.
- Assist you with paperwork: Filling out the necessary paperwork can be overwhelming, particularly if you suffered a serious injury. A dedicated lawyer will make sure that all the paperwork is completed, and that the claim is submitted within the statute of limitations. This is extremely important because if you file your claim after the statute of limitations has expired, your claim will be denied and you will no longer be eligible to collect financial compensation.
- Negotiate with the insurance company: In some cases, the insurance company may present an initial settlement offer that is too low. Your accident lawyer will negotiate on your behalf for a settlement offer that compensates you fairly. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer will represent you in court.
- Address all your questions: It is expected that you will have questions about your case, the damages for which you are entitled, and how long it will take to receive a settlement. Your accident lawyer will address all your questions and concerns throughout the claims process.
What Damages May I Receive if I am Injured in a Bus Accident?
If your vehicle was hit by a bus and you suffered a serious injury, you may be entitled to the following damages:
Economic damages: These include any monetary losses you suffered as a result of the accident, including the following:
- All medical expenses related to the injury, including doctor’s appointments, surgeries, physical therapy, and prescription medications
- Property damage, including the cost to repair your vehicle and the costs of renting a vehicle until your car is fixed
- Lost wages if you are unable to return to work, and loss of future earning capacity
Non-economic damages: These are the non-monetary losses you suffered from the accident, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of companionship
Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Bus Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured after an accident with a bus, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. These accidents can cause extensive property damage and severe injuries to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for causing the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.