Litigation After Bus Accidents
Accidents involving large buses commonly result in severe injuries because of the large size of the vehicles, lack of standard safety equipment, and the number of passengers on board. In many bus accidents, multiple entities may be held liable for any injuries, including the driver, management company, and vehicle manufacturers. Because of the numerous parties involved and their respective insurance companies, bus accident claims are often complex. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The first thing you should do following a bus accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you think that your injuries are minor, seeking medical attention is essential. Many common injuries in motor vehicle accidents, such as concussions and other brain injuries, do not present symptoms immediately. Seeking prompt medical attention can help identify any possible conditions and treat them in their earliest stages.
Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents can be caused by any number of factors, many of which are in the bus driver’s control. Other causes may be related to poor maintenance or defective manufacturing.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Tragically, many people who drive professionally use drugs or alcohol while on the job. Any bus driver who drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol is reckless and puts countless lives in danger.
Weather and Road Conditions
While the bus driver cannot control the conditions of the weather or the road, they can control how they react to such conditions. For example, fast or aggressive driving in slippery conditions is reckless and can result in an accident. Additionally, bus drivers may drive too fast or too slow for traffic conditions, creating a dangerous situation for all passengers.
Improperly Maintained Vehicles
In most cases, maintenance is typically the responsibility of the bus owner or management company. Depending on what type of bus it is, local governments, schools, churches, or other organizations may be responsible for the vehicle.
If it is found that the accident was caused or exacerbated by inadequate training of the driver, the agency responsible for providing training can be found negligent and held liable for injuries and damages. In most cases, the management company is responsible for ensuring that all of its bus drivers are properly trained. However, it is possible that a third-party training agency is responsible.
As with any motor vehicle, buses are composed of countless motorized and electrical parts that allow the vehicle to run. Even just one defective part can cause a serious accident. In cases of defective equipment, such as defective brakes, the manufacturer of the bus or the specific part may be deemed negligent and liable for injuries and damages sustained in the accident.
General reckless driving by a bus driver can also result in an accident. Speeding or driving too slow, changing lanes frequently, and other actions can be considered reckless and endanger the safety of the bus passengers.
Responsible Parties in a Bus Accident
A number of different parties can potentially be held liable for a bus crash. In some instances, more than one party could be responsible for the accident. Accidents involving many parties can be very complex and difficult to determine who is at fault.
In many cases, the bus driver is at least partially responsible for an accident. When a bus driver gets behind the wheel, he or she is responsible for more than just his or her own life. Reckless driving puts the passengers and other motorists at risk of serious injury.
Bus Owner or Management Company
In certain cases, the bus owner or the management company may be found partially or, in certain situations, fully liable for an accident. A management company that fails to keep its vehicles properly maintained or fails to provide its drivers with adequate training can endanger the lives of its employees and customers.
Bus or Equipment Manufacturers
When it is determined that an equipment defect caused the accident, the manufacturer of the bus or the specific piece of equipment can be held liable for injuries and damages sustained during an accident.
Evidence in a Bus Accident
When you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, he or she will gather any and all pertinent evidence to build a strong case. The type of evidence in a bus accident differs quite a bit from the type of evidence one would gather in a car accident.
Service logs provide details on regular maintenance the bus has undergone, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and more. Service logs can provide clues as to the cause of the accident, and may include notes from mechanics and dates of past services.
Maintenance records on the bus can provide information regarding more significant work that may have been performed on the bus. These records should include the scope of work performed on the bus, contact information for the mechanics who performed the work, and recommendations made by the mechanics. If the brakes were recently replaced and the new pads failed, these maintenance records can assist in determining fault.
Cell Phone Records
Bus drivers use their cell phones as much as any other driver on the road. A bus driver who is distracted by his or her cell phone, either due to talking or texting, can cause a serious accident. Your attorney will obtain these records to determine if the bus driver was, in fact, using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident.
It is important to obtain copies of the police report following any accident. Your attorney will compare the information in the police report with your version of the accident, as well as the accounts of witnesses and other victims. In doing so, your attorney can pinpoint any discrepancies, which may help determine the at-fault party.
Eye Witness Accounts
Gathering eyewitness testimony is an important aspect of any accident. Witnesses may include other drivers who saw the accident occur but were not involved, nearby pedestrians, and other people who were in the vicinity of the collision.
Skilled personal injury attorneys work with accident reconstruction specialists. These teams can reconstruct the scene of an accident, and in some instances may even reenact the collision.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was injured in a bus accident, please contact a personal injury attorney in your area to schedule a free case evaluation. Your attorney can provide you with an in-depth review of your case and advise you on the legal options available.