When passengers are injured in a bus accident, they may require hospitalization, ongoing medical treatment, or even undergo a major surgical procedure. Consequently, they may face a significant period of absence from work or be forced to change careers depending on the severity of their injuries. Moreover, they may endure prolonged pain, suffering, and inconvenience following the accident.
Bus accidents encompass a range of vehicles, including tour buses, city buses, municipal buses, and school buses. While these accidents can result from the negligence of the bus driver, they may also occur due to the reckless behavior of other motorists.
If you have recently been injured in a bus accident, it is crucial to take immediate legal action. Delaying the filing of a personal injury claim or lawsuit can jeopardize your right to obtain the rightful compensation for your accident-related injuries and other damages.
In Los Angeles, a skilled bus accident lawyer at Oak Tree Law can assess your case, formulate a strategic plan, and guide you through the necessary steps. They will assist you in filing a claim, negotiating with insurance company adjusters, and pursuing litigation if required. Your lawyer’s objective will be to secure a fair and just compensation that provides you with the justice and closure you deserve.
What Contributes to the Frequency of Bus Accidents?
Bus accidents occur frequently due to negligence on the part of bus drivers and other motorists. Negligent driving often involves the violation of traffic laws.
Components of a Bus Accident Lawsuit
Typical violations that result in bus crashes include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Aggressive driving behaviors
- Road rage incidents
- Failure to use turn signals
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to other drivers at the appropriate time
In other instances, bus accidents occur when a bus driver or another driver operates their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving while intoxicated or impaired poses an extreme danger, particularly for bus drivers who bear the responsibility of passengers’ lives.
Intoxicated bus drivers may fail to notice approaching vehicles or pedestrians, or they may exhibit erratic driving behavior. Impaired drivers may experience reduced concentration or delayed reaction time, hindering their ability to stop the bus in time and avoid a collision.
Distractions also contribute to bus accidents. School bus drivers often face distractions when dealing with disruptive children on the bus. Electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and GPS navigation systems can divert the attention of some bus drivers. When a bus driver turns their head to address unruly passengers or looks down at an electronic device, they may fail to perceive an approaching vehicle, resulting in a sudden crash.
Bus accidents can also occur when drivers operate their vehicles while fatigued. Fatigue can lead to diminished concentration, lack of awareness, and impaired reflexes, preventing a bus driver from promptly stopping their vehicle. Additionally, if a fatigued driver dozes off behind the wheel, they are likely to lose control of the vehicle and cause a serious accident.
Seek guidance from a knowledgeable bus accident lawyer in your area who can assess your case, explain your legal options, and assist you in deciding whether to pursue a bus accident claim or lawsuit for financial compensation. Your lawyer will stand by your side throughout the process, advocating for your rights and fighting on your behalf against the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Possible Injuries Resulting from Bus Collisions
Bus passengers face a significant disadvantage as they often lack seatbelts or other restraints, leaving them susceptible to violent movements and potential impact within the vehicle. This risk increases if the force of the bus crash causes a passenger to be thrown to the ground.
Traumatic head and brain injuries, spinal cord damage, complete or partial paralysis, abrasions, soft tissue whiplash contusions, internal organ trauma, and fractures are among the most common injuries suffered by victims of bus accidents.
Promptly seeking medical treatment for your injuries should be a priority following a bus collision. Additionally, it is crucial to consult with a skilled bus accident lawyer who can handle your legal matters and advocate on your behalf.
Is it possible to file a personal injury lawsuit following a bus accident?
A personal injury lawsuit allows individuals to seek damages for injuries or harm sustained in an accident. If a passenger, pedestrian, or another driver is injured in a bus accident, they may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit to pursue compensation.
Many bus accident injuries result from negligence or reckless behavior. In certain cases, even if the bus company owner or operator is not directly at fault for the accident, they may still be held liable for damages. For instance, employers are responsible for their employees’ negligence.
Determining liability for the accident
The responsible parties for causing the accident can vary depending on the type and cause of the bus accident. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injury victim (plaintiff) names the individuals or groups responsible as “defendants.” In bus accidents, the defendants may include:
- Bus driver
- Bus driver supervisor
- Tour bus operator
- School bus operator
- Charter bus operator
- Other vehicle drivers
- Bus maintenance company
- City, county, or state agency
- Bus owner
- Bus stop property owner
- Bus manufacturer
- Bus part manufacturer
In certain cases, multiple defendants may share the responsibility for the accident. The injury victim may also bear some level of blame for the accident, but they may still be eligible to claim damages. In California, under the “comparative fault” law, the plaintiff can recover damages even if they share some fault. However, the damages are reduced based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
In most personal injury claims related to bus accidents, the plaintiff establishes the defendant’s negligence as the cause of the accident. The elements of negligence typically include:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached their duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach was a significant factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
If the plaintiff successfully demonstrates the defendant’s negligence, the defendant may be held responsible for causing the accident and may be required to compensate the plaintiff for their damages.
Note that in California, Vehicle Code 21702 makes it a misdemeanor for a bus driver to exceed the permissible number of driving hours. A drowsy bus driver who violates this law and causes an accident may be held liable under California’s negligence per se laws.
What types of compensation can be obtained in a bus accident lawsuit?
While no amount of money can fully compensate an injury victim, compensatory damages aim to cover both economic and non-economic losses. In certain cases, the injury victim may also be eligible for punitive damages, which serve to punish the responsible party for their actions.
Economic damages encompass the financial costs the victim incurs or will incur as a result of the accident, including medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages account for intangible harms that don’t have a fixed monetary value, such as emotional distress or loss of a limb. Compensatory damages in a bus accident lawsuit may include:
- Emergency room treatment
- Hospital bills
- Medications and medical supplies
- Physical therapy
- In-home care
- Lost income
- Future lost earnings
- Vehicle repair
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Court costs and fees
Potential Damages You Can Seek in a Bus Accident Case
The financial implications of a vehicle accident can accumulate rapidly. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident and the injuries you sustained, the following damages can potentially be recovered in a bus accident case:
Your personal injury claim may include all medical expenses incurred as a result of your injury, encompassing tests, treatments, and doctor’s visits—both past and future.
If you were driving your own car at the time of the bus accident, your vehicle likely suffered damage. You may be eligible for compensation to repair or replace your vehicle. If you were a bus passenger, you could seek compensation for any damaged or lost personal belongings.
Loss of Income:
Compensation may be available if you missed work hours due to your injury and recovery. If the accident necessitated a career change or a transition to a lower-paying position, this loss of income can also be factored into your claim.
Pain and Suffering:
Bus accidents can result in physical and emotional trauma. In certain cases, you may be able to seek damages for pain and suffering experienced as a direct consequence of the accident.
These examples only highlight a fraction of the possible damages for which you may be eligible to receive compensation. Depending on the specifics of your case, you could potentially recover losses in other areas as well. By retaining a lawyer, you can effectively identify your damages and gather evidence to substantiate their value throughout the legal process.
Can I file a lawsuit if I was injured at a bus stop?
Despite feeling like being in the wrong place at the wrong time, an individual injured at a bus stop can still pursue legal action against those responsible for the accident.
Many bus stop accidents result from the negligence or recklessness of drivers. To claim damages for their injuries, the injury victim must demonstrate the driver’s negligence. In some cases, the plaintiff can prove the driver’s liability by presenting evidence of traffic law violations such as speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence.
Additionally, the bus stop itself may be situated in a hazardous location, potentially with a history of prior accidents or inadequate proximity to the street. In such situations, the injury victim may also have a claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining the bus stop.
What should you do if your child or spouse was killed in a bus accident?
In the tragic event of a child or spouse’s death in a bus accident, the deceased individual is unable to seek justice themselves. However, surviving family members may have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure accountability for those responsible.
In a California wrongful death lawsuit, eligible family members who may receive damages include:
- Domestic partner
- Grandchildren (if the children are deceased)
- Any individual entitled to the decedent’s property under California intestate succession laws
Damages in a wrongful death claim aim to compensate family members for their losses. This includes both economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Financial losses suffered by the family due to lost income and future earnings
- Loss of companionship, support, or affection
Please note that this response provides general information, and consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney is essential for personalized legal advice based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Bus Accident?
Determining fault is crucial for plaintiffs in bus accident cases before proceeding with a lawsuit. Potential parties at fault in bus accidents may include:
- Bus owner/operator/driver
- Managers or supervisors of the bus driver
- Other drivers and passengers of vehicles involved
- Bus maintenance companies
- Local government agencies or state bureaus
- Bus station property owners
- Manufacturers of buses and bus parts
- Factors related to the accident, the injured party’s vehicle, and the behavior of the victim
- Alternative and contextual evidence
How Can a Bus Accident Lawyer Assist?
Engaging the services of a bus accident lawyer typically leads to better financial outcomes compared to handling the matter independently. Bus accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only receive payment if they win the client’s case. They charge a percentage of the funds successfully collected on behalf of the client as their fee. The client does not bear any cost for the service.
By working on a contingency basis, lawyers are motivated to maximize their client’s financial recovery. It is in both the client’s and lawyer’s best interest to explore every possible avenue for compensation.
Do Bus Drivers Face Different Laws Compared to Car Drivers?
Bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care due to their responsibility for passenger transportation. Legally, public and private transportation companies are considered common carriers, providing transportation services for a fee. These carriers are governed by California Civil Code 2100, which mandates the use of utmost care, diligence, and provision of necessary resources to ensure passenger safety.
However, this does not imply that bus drivers or their employers are always at fault in an accident. For instance, if a drunk driver crashes into a bus, the bus driver and their employer would not be held accountable under this law.
What Is the Time Limit to File a Lawsuit for a Bus Accident Injury?
The time limit, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a bus accident claim depends on the type of bus involved in the accident. Generally, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident injury. However, if the accident occurred on a public bus, the time limit is reduced to six months from the injury date. Claims against government entities have even shorter statutes of limitations. An exception applies if the bus accident victim is a minor, in which case the time limits start when they reach 18 years of age.
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one has been injured or suffered loss in a bus accident, it is important to hold the responsible parties accountable. The dedicated bus accident lawyers at Oak Tree Law understand the challenges you may be facing and are prepared to provide assistance. It is worth noting that the bus’s insurance company is likely to have strong legal representation, and therefore, it is essential for you to have the same level of support.