Public transportation is widely considered one of the safest travel methods in America. This is especially the case for buses, which generally cannot travel at the same speed as other vehicles. The large size of buses also gives them an advantage in the case of an accident. However, this also means collisions with buses can lead to severe injuries and costly damages for other road users.
After a public transportation accident, you might need clarification about who to contact. Does the driver's insurance cover the damages? Should you sue the driver? What if the city or state owns the buses? What are your options? An experienced attorney can help you answer these pressing questions and find an appropriate solution.
The Top Causes of Public Transportation Accidents
Public transportation drivers typically need to meet strict requirements. For example, some companies will not hire drivers with three or more moving violations in a five-year period. The high standards for drivers contribute to public transportation safety, but accidents happen. Here are some common reasons.
Bus drivers often work very long hours, which can lead to fatigue. When a driver is tired, they may make more mistakes on the road that could lead to an accident. This is especially true for drivers who take on long-haul trips or work late hours.
Just like with any vehicle, public transportation drivers must drive safely. They could be negligent if they fail to do so and cause an accident. This means that the driver did not take reasonable care to avoid an accident and is now responsible for any damages or injuries sustained.
Poor Driving Conditions
What happens if a bus going 60 mph suddenly encounters sand storms, flash flooding or smoke from wildfires? These conditions can make it difficult for a bus driver to react in time and could cause collisions as he or she takes corrective or evasive action.
Other Road Users
Public transportation drivers must share the road with other vehicles. This means careless drivers, cyclists or pedestrians can cause accidents by not following the road rules. For example, avoiding a car stopped in the middle of the road could cause the driver to lose control of the bus and collide with another vehicle.
Buses are large, complex machines and require frequent maintenance to stay safe on the roads. If a bus is poorly maintained or has faulty parts, it can lead to an accident. In such cases, several parties could become potentially liable for the damages caused.
What To Do After a Car Accident Involving Public Transportation Vehicles
Your reaction within the first few minutes of an accident can determine how things unfold for months. Every situation is different, but one of the best things you can do is remain calm. Here are some general guidelines.
Seek Medical Attention
You likely sustained severe injuries after an accident involving public transportation vehicles. The larger the vehicle and the higher the speeds at the time of the collision, the more likely this becomes. Even if you feel perfectly fine, note that adrenaline can delay the effects of injuries. However, failure to treat those injuries can cause them to spiral into much more significant issues or even death.
Collect and Securely Store Evidence
Collect evidence from the scene, such as photographs, witness statements and contact information. Photos of the area surrounding the scene could prove helpful because road conditions may have played a role. Documentation is essential if negligence plays a role in the incident. Also, store records of your medical visits or treatments in a secure location.
Contact an Experienced Public Transportation Car Accident Lawyer
Do not attempt to navigate the legal process alone. An experienced lawyer can help you build a strong case and recover the compensation you need to move forward with your life. This professional can handle the hard work of pursuing a claim while you focus on recovery or grieving.
Common Injuries After a Public Transportation Accident
Victims of these types of accidents can suffer varying degrees of injury. Minor to severe cuts and bruises are common, as well as head or traumatic brain injuries. Spinal cord trauma may result in long-term disability or paralysis. Broken bones are also frequent injuries associated with bus accidents. Whiplash is another potential outcome if the impact is forceful enough.
Vision problems, hearing loss and psychological trauma, are also possible. The latter can manifest as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Any of these injuries could require long-term medical care and attention. You may be able to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
Possible Liable Parties in a Public Transportation Accident
The driver might seem like the apparent liable party, but this is not always the case. Accidents are complex matters that can involve multiple failure points and mistakes. Consider the following potentially responsible parties.
The Bus Driver
The bus driver must adhere to the same laws as any other vehicle operator on the road. That includes obeying speed limits and traffic signs. If negligence caused the accident, this party could bear responsibility.
The Transportation Company
The company or organization responsible for operating the bus might face legal action if it fails to maintain safe vehicles. It could also become liable if it knowingly hired an unqualified driver or otherwise neglected its responsibilities.
City or State Governments
The local city or state government owns and operates public transportation vehicles in some jurisdictions. If this is the case in your situation, you may sue the government or pursue compensation from a local fund.
Local Roads and Infrastructure
Sometimes, poor road conditions can contribute to an accident. If this is the case, you could name local authorities responsible for roadway maintenance as a party to your claim. Cases involving government entities are incredibly complex, so seek legal assistance.
Lastly, the manufacturer of the bus could face a claim. If a vehicle or its defective parts caused or exacerbated your injuries, you might have grounds for legal action. You must act quickly because this kind of evidence can be hard to find and preserve.
If a mechanic worked on the vehicle in question, he or she could also face legal action. If the inspection was incomplete or improper repairs occurred, that professional might share some liability for your damages. For example, a mechanic may have failed to service the brakes and difficulty braking played a role in the bus's difficulty coming to a stop.
Why You Should Hire an Experienced Attorney
Our experienced attorneys at JAG can help you make sense of the legal process and protect your rights. We take the time to investigate accidents and build strong cases against responsible parties. While we try to avoid the need for lengthy court battles, we are fearless when taking the case to court to get the justice our clients deserve. Whether you're going up against government organizations or insurance companies, we've got your back.
Our commitment to consistent results has led to a 98.7% case success rate. In fact, we have recovered more than $100 million for our clients in California. Contact us to see what we can do for you. You won't pay our team a dime unless we win.