People rely on buses every day. We expect buses to arrive and depart relatively on time and to get us to the places we need to go safely. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens. Bus, van and other multi-passenger transport vehicles can be involved in bus accidents almost every week in the United States. When you or some you love has been in a bus accident, your primary concern is getting better, but unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. It’s highly likely that the bus company’s attorneys and investigators will question you and ask you to sign off on waivers releasing them from responsibility. They may even offer you an immediate cash payout in exchange for your signature. Bus companies commonly use these tactics to take advantage of the confusion and panic that bus accident victims experience and get them to relinquish their rights. This is why you should have an experienced California bus accident lawyer on your side. Our California personal injury lawyers have recovered over $97 million in the last few years alone.
If you have been injured by a bus in California, call Johnson Attorneys Group at (800) 208-3538 today!
What Kinds of Buses Operate in California?
When you think of a bus, you probably picture a school bus or a mass-transit public vehicle. While those are the most common types of buses, others include:
- Tour buses
- Church buses
- Passenger vans
- Inter-city buses
Passenger vans or vehicles that carry more than 10 people, including the driver, are considered buses. A tour bus carries over 16 passengers and the driver. Most buses are classified as common carriers.
What Is a Common Carrier?
Common carrier services accept fees to transport people or goods, whether locally or across the country. Common carrier companies must:
- Employ and fully train experienced drivers with good driving safety records
- Provide well-lit, safe boarding areas
- Use vigilance, diligence, and high standards of care to transport passengers safely
- Properly and consistently maintain their vehicles, outside and inside
- Require drivers to follow traffic laws
All licensed drivers owe a duty of care to others, which means they must drive safely, follow traffic laws, and otherwise minimize the risk of causing an accident that could injure someone. Common carriers must adhere to higher safety standards because they carry passengers who rely on them to safely get them to their destinations.
Common carriers that don’t meet these standards may be guilty of negligence.
What Is Negligence?
Legally, negligence is defined as “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.” Negligent behaviors and actions can cause accidents and resulting injuries.
Some examples of negligence while driving include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Fatigued driving
- Aggressive or reckless driving
Distracted driving causes numerous accidents daily. A distraction is anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the act of driving and includes:
- Any hands-on use of a cell phone
- Eating, drinking, and smoking
- Fixing hair or putting on makeup
- Interacting with occupants
- Looking at something besides traffic
- Searching for something inside the vehicle
Common carrier negligence also includes failing to uphold the higher standards they’re expected to follow.
Negligence is the basis for most personal injury claims and lawsuits. If negligence causes a bus accident, you may have grounds to receive compensation for your damages. Contact JAG to see if you qualify.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
The most common causes of a collision are driver negligence or a mechanical failure.
- Driver Negligence: This can refer to several different things. A driver can be found negligent for speeding, or not adhering to the rules of the road. This can also encompass incidents of aggressive driving, situations in which the driver is distracted or fatigued, or simply making an error while driving. Operating and driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also considered driver negligence. While most bus drivers are required to have some measure of training in order to operate a bus, particularly those that are part of public transit and school fleets, there is no one standard of training. California maintains fairly high standards for the training of bus operators in comparison to other areas across the country.
- Mechanical Failure: A mechanical failure that results in a bus accident can be the result of the inadequate maintenance of the vehicle, or there may be a manufacturing defect of parts that were undetected prior to the accident. A few examples of a mechanical failure would include things like faulty brakes, electrical fires, or defects in the latches of the doors on the bus.
Most Common Bus Accident Scenarios By Type
There are many different ways for a bus accident to play out as there are many unpredictable variables in each situation. Most commonly, there can be injuries or a fatality when a bus strikes a pedestrian, a cyclist, or another motor vehicle. It’s also not uncommon for passengers to injure themselves when either getting on or off the vehicle.
Here are a few examples of different bus types and their common accident profiles:
- Public Transit Bus Injury Accidents: Under California state law, all public transit buses are classified as “common carriers”. Common carrier vehicles are intended to transport public passengers and are legally required to extend a high degree of care to those passengers. Bus drivers or the companies they work for may be held liable for any personal injuries that arise from any degree of negligence.
- Tour Bus Injury Accidents: A tour bus is used as part of tour operation, as airport service, or as a party shuttle. Tour buses are exempt from seat belt regulations and are often transporting luggage that may not be properly secured. Because passengers are often able to stand in tour buses or may be sleeping without a secured seatbelt, accidents can occur when a driver swerves or makes an error in reacting to a possible hazard.
- School Bus Injury Accidents: There are still places in which school buses are exempt from seat belt regulations. In areas where this is the case, the most common issues result in an injury collision include: bad weather, driver distractions, other vehicles collide with a bus, mechanical problems and more. This category includes the use of school buses as a transport to and from daily school sessions, as well as buses being used for field trips, after-school activities and sporting events.
- Passenger Van Injury Accidents: Passenger vans, which are usually vans with approximately 15 passenger seats, are not bound by the same certifications that are required to operate tour vans or larger buses. This lack of training requirements for drivers results in a more frequent occurrence of an operational error. Passenger vans are used primarily as carpool or rideshare vehicles, and are also rented to transport sports teams. Due to their design, this type of van is more prone to rollover collisions in the event of an accident. Serious injuries and fatalities may result if a roof is not well constructed.
Who Can Be Injured in Bus Accidents?
Most buses are large, heavy vehicles; as such, they can cause significant damage if they hit someone or something. Many are 40-45 feet long. School buses usually weigh 10,000 to 15,000 pounds empty and between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds when fully loaded. Transit buses generally weigh 20,000 to 33,000 pounds empty and 30,000 to 44,000 pounds with passengers.
Passengers have more opportunities for injury than people outside the bus:
- Passengers often sustain injuries when they’re boarding or getting off buses.
- They may hit bus structures or other passengers during a collision.
- Unsecured belongings, such as backpacks, briefcases, and bags, can become projectiles that injure passengers if a bus crashes.
- Many buses don’t require passengers to wear seatbelts; because of that, passengers may be thrown around in a collision.
Cyclists and Pedestrians
Whether these people or a bus causes a collision, injuries to cyclists and pedestrians are often severe and can be fatal. Buses are tall and heavy, and pedestrians and cyclists are unprotected.
Drivers or Occupants of Other Vehicles
Passenger cars average a weight of 4,100 pounds. Even an empty school bus is over twice that weight and fully loaded transit buses may weigh 10 times as much as a car. That means that the car’s occupants are at a much higher risk of injury in a collision between a bus and a car.
Why Are Bus Accident Claims Complicated?
Besides being common carriers, many buses are commercial vehicles. Some are operated by government agencies. Both of those add complications to bus accident claims.
One of the most important aspects of any personal injury claim is determining who is responsible for causing an accident. That party or parties are liable for paying compensation for damages.
When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, there is the potential for more than one party to be held liable:
- The driver
- The company
- The vehicle’s owner
- Those responsible for maintaining the vehicle
- Parts or vehicle manufacturers
An in-depth investigation into the cause of a crash is often needed to determine liability. JAG will use our resources to ensure that blame is assigned appropriately.
The California Tort Claims Act specifies strict guidelines and procedures for filing a claim against a government agency in the state. If you don’t follow these requirements, you’ll likely lose your right to seek compensation if a city bus, for instance, causes an accident that injures you.
You’ll have to file a notice of claim within six months of your accident date. That deadline is much shorter than the two years other personal injury cases allow. That’s just the first hurdle when filing a claim against a government entity.
The knowledgeable lawyers at JAG understand the requirements of this type of claim. Contact us today, and let us tell you how we can help.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Multiple parties share a percentage of blame for causing many accidents. California uses pure comparative negligence, meaning that you can seek compensation for your damages even if you’re 99% to blame.
There’s a catch, however. The amount of compensation you can receive is reduced by your percentage of fault. Say you’re 20% to blame for causing a bus accident and that total damages are $100,000. The most you can recover is $80,000: $100,000 – 20% = $80,000.
It’s crucial that fault is accurately assigned, but opposing insurance companies are likely to attempt to place more blame on you than you deserve. Having a competent bus accident lawyer from Johnson Attorneys Group on your side will have a considerable impact.
Seeking Compensation for Personal Injuries in a Bus Accident? What Needs to Happen First?
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t want to pay compensation to anyone. They often use underhanded tactics to persuade injured accident victims to accept much less than they deserve. In some cases, they refuse to pay at all.
An experienced JAG bus accident lawyer won’t let greedy insurance companies take advantage of their clients. Your attorney can handle all communications with insurance company representatives, investigators, and attorneys on your behalf. JAG will also aggressively negotiate with these companies to obtain the maximum amount of compensation you’re owed.
Johnson Attorneys Group will also:
- Provide legal insights and advice
- Prepare and submit paperwork related to your claim or lawsuit
- Follow the appropriate procedures
- Thoroughly investigate your accident
- Help you to obtain necessary care
- Get prompt results
- Take your case to trial if needed
Most people don’t understand the laws and procedures surrounding bus accident claims. Injured accident victims need to focus on recovering instead of worrying about their cases. Your JAG attorney will handle your legal situation so you can get better.
What Kinds of Compensation Can You Seek?
If you’re injured in a bus accident, you may be entitled to seek different categories of damages.
You’ll face expenses that result from the accident, and these damages compensate you for things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Certain daily expenses, like costs associated with hiring a caregiver
- Property damage
Save your receipts because your bus accident lawyer will use them.
Some injuries aren’t visible, but they can adversely affect your life after an accident. Non-economic damages compensate for them, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Losing your ability to enjoy life
- Harm to personal relationships
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
The amount you may receive is related to how significantly these things impact you.
Punitive damages are only available when intentional malice or extreme recklessness causes an accident. Punitive damages seek to punish the person or persons responsible further. Your JAG lawyer can tell you if your case qualifies.
Why Should You Choose the Johnson Attorneys Group?
When you select a personal injury lawyer, you should choose one who has proven they can get positive results. Johnson Attorneys Group has a 98.7% case success rate, recovering over $100 million in settlements for our clients. With 12 offices throughout California, JAG is conveniently located to assist you with your bus accident claim. We are ready to fight to obtain the compensation you deserve.
We understand that your finances are likely strained after your accident, so JAG doesn’t require any fees until we settle your case. We’ll start by providing a free consultation with no obligation.