Public transportation is generally safe, but bus accidents do happen and can result in serious injuries. An accident can result in significant emotional, physical, and financial challenges. If you’ve been injured in an accident, our Los Angeles bus accident attorney can represent you or a loved one and maximize the financial recovery you may receive. Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani today!
What Qualifies as a Bus?
A bus, according to federal law, is a motorized vehicle with a capacity for over 10 passengers. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards recognize buses as common carriers used by the general public, who pay a fare to use their services. Bus operators and drivers are required by law to provide a high standard of care for passengers. They’re also subject to licensing requirements and regulations put forth at the state and federal level.
According to California Civil Code 2100, Article 2, Carriage for Reward, enacted by the California Legislature in 1872, states that any carrier that transports people for a profit must take utmost care and diligence regarding their safety. The carrier must take all necessary measures to execute that purpose while exercising the skill needed to safely transport passengers. Other sections of Article 2 cover vehicle fitness, overcrowding and overloading, and treatment of passengers.
Bus Accident Statistics
As strictly regulated as buses are, accidents happen, although most qualified bus drivers go their daily routes with no incidents. In fact, fatal accidents are rare compared to cars. With cars, the rate is 11.3 fatalities per billion miles, while for buses this number is 0.14 fatalities per billion miles.
In 2015, there were 263 fatal bus crashes, and 227 in 2016, a year-over-year decrease of 14%. In 2014, 11,000 buses were involved in injury-causing crashes, and 2% resulted in deaths. Serious injuries increased from 60,000 in 2009 to 119,000 in 2016. Overall, the injury rate is increasing, possibly because of distracted driving attributed to the use of cell phones and other devices by bus drivers.
Negligence, which may be due to distractions and other factors, can be proven by the evidence you provide and the experience of bus accident attorneys.
What Are the Common Causes of Bus Accidents?
Most of the time, speed is not a factor, as most buses don’t travel on highways (except for intercity, tour, and charter buses). Our Los Angeles bus accident attorneys can represent clients injured in accidents related to:
- Vehicle Size: The size and weight of a bus help keep occupants safe but pose a risk to drivers and passengers in smaller cars involved in a collision with the bus.
- Lack of Seatbelts: Without a seatbelt, passengers can be tossed around, hitting the sides or roof of the bus or one another; this is especially dangerous if the bus overturns.
- Driver Negligence or Fatigue: A bus driver texting, talking on the phone, speeding, or being reckless is a threat to passenger safety, as is fatigue, a common occurrence with bus drivers who work long hours.
- Road Conditions: Slippery roads, potholes, uneven surfaces, and obstructions can cause an accident if the driver does not see and/or respond to them in time.
- Weather: Heavy rain, wind, snow, and ice can increase the risk of crashes, especially if a driver isn’t properly trained or the vehicle’s brakes are poorly maintained.
- Blind Spots: The blind spot of a bus is much larger than that of a car, making it hard to see drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians unless proper precautions are taken.
Types of Buses
- Airport Bus Accidents: An airport shuttle provides regular transport between two or more local destinations, and usually has room to store luggage. Depending on the operator, a private bus company, airport transfer company, or a city public transportation company may be liable after an accident.
- Amtrak Bus Accidents: Amtrak, known for its extensive rail service, operates the Thruway Motorcoach, a system of intercity buses that link train stations to areas not serviced by its trains or stations. Buses are also found along established passenger rail corridors and used when rail service is disrupted.
- Coach Bus Accidents: Coaches provide long-distance bus service between cities and even internationally. They are typically higher than standard buses and can contain luggage compartments and restrooms, which can increase the potential for injuries if there’s an accident. Vehicle height can be a factor in accidents involving low overpasses.
- Double Decker Bus Accidents: Double deckers are high and carry more people than many other buses. Overpasses can pose a threat and people sitting on side seats or near the rear of the vehicle are often most at risk for injury. Speed has also been a factor in double decker bus accidents.
- Greyhound Bus Accidents: Greyhound transports about 18 million passengers per year. As North America’s largest intercity bus company, it has a history of accidents related to driver fatigue and recklessness. The company’s bus drivers and insurance adjusters may try to get passengers to fill out C-4 forms after a Greyhound bus accident, which can go against you if your try to file an injury claim later. Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyers suggest, never sign a document or give a statement at the scene.
- Megabus Accidents: These buses have transported large numbers of people cheaply, and have been publicized following dramatic, explosive accidents. They are operated by Coach USA/Coach Canada and DATTCO. Infrastructure collisions and driver blood-alcohol levels have been factors in notable accidents, including a 2014 curbside bus crash involving 14 fatalities in New York. Various other legal and safety violations have involved hub drivers in New York and Chicago.
- Metrobus Accidents: The service consists of nearly 1,600 buses in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. It serves hundreds of thousands of people per day and includes a highway express service. Buses operate on busy roads so there are many opportunities for accidents, including several collisions with other vehicles—one such incident injured 20 people in September 2016.
- Open Top Bus Accidents: Commonly used for sightseeing and tourist services, this bus does not have a conventional roof. The construction poses a risk to people if the vehicle collides with a low-lying object or overturns, which would leave exposed passengers vulnerable to injuries.
- Party Bus Accidents: In addition to driver negligence and other factors, party bus passengers are at risk if they act inappropriately. In May 2018, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte student was killed after she fell out the vehicle’s emergency window.
- School Bus Accidents: Driver distractions, fatigue, operator error, and mechanical problems have triggered school bus accidents. Children are more at risk of injuries at drop-off and pick-up points with a lack of supervision; accidents at these locations are more common than on open roads. To top things off, school buses are usually not equipped with lap or shoulder belts. Federal law does not require them, although California mandated restraint systems to be installed in school buses purchased or leased as of July 1, 2004—older buses are not required under state law to be retrofitted.
- Tour Bus Accidents: Operating in and around popular tourist destinations, tour buses transport large groups of people. A tour bus accident, like an incident involving any bus, can result in severe injuries and fatalities. Liability may fall on the tour company, bus company, or bus destination if a tourist falls and is hurt near the bus at a venue. Tour bus accident victims include young and old travelers, families, and students.
Who May Be Responsible for a Bus Accident?
- Bus Company: After bus accident litigation in Los Angeles, the bus company may be at fault if a mechanical problem, especially a brake issue, exploding tire, or something preventable with proper maintenance, is found. A form of negligence, failure to maintain a bus can result in a host of safety issues including onboard fires.
- Bus Driver: The driver’s job is to ensure passengers are safe. Reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence or using a cell phone while operating a bus can lead to accidents. An accident investigation may also look at work hours; driver fatigue is a factor in up to 20% of bus and truck crashes.
- Bus Manufacturer: A manufacturer can be held liable if an accident is caused by a defective part. Product liability may play a role if problems with the manufacturing process are found, or the manufacturer didn’t properly warn end users of potential hazards that contributed to the accident.
- Driver of Another Vehicle: Drivers may be liable if they turn sharply in front of a bus, or brake suddenly causing the bus to hit the rear of a car. A motor vehicle driver who collides with another object, contributing to a bus crash, may also be liable, as may their employer if the car is being driven for work.
- State/Local Government: Accidents resulting from poorly maintained highways and streets may result in litigation involving negligent state or city authorities. Floods, pot holes, and faulty repair work can put a government agency at fault. The agency may also be liable if the bus driver is a government employee or the vehicle is agency-owned.
- School District: A Los ANgeles school bus accident attorney is likely to represent a client injured on a district-operated bus. Some districts own and operate their own buses and hire their own drivers. If the district doesn’t use an outside transportation provider, it can be liable if relevant safety measures weren’t implemented and/or enforced.
Bus accidents are often complex events. Multiple parties may be at fault, which is why shared fault may impact how lawsuits are conducted. A suit may, therefore, involve multiple defendants and result in splitting damages between various parties.
Who Are the Typical Victims of Bus Accidents?
- Bus Passengers: Passengers not secured with seat belts or who may be standing are at risk of serious injuries, given the size of the vehicle and its momentum. Injuries may be caused by the collision itself or loose objects inside a bus.
- Passengers Boarding or Alighting the Bus: Might be injured due to improperly maintained entryways or if a bus driver starts moving while they’re still getting on and off the bus.
- Drivers and Passengers of Other Vehicles: Face a high injury risk because buses are bigger and more powerful than the typical car and can inflict severe damage if they collide with or overturn onto another motor vehicle.
- Bicycle, Motorcycle, Scooter, or Moped Drivers: No match for the size, weight, speed, and momentum of a bus, they are even more exposed and vulnerable to injuries.
- Pedestrians: Those struck by buses are often catastrophically injured; they may be crossing the street in front of a bus, standing too close to the curb, or walking by and struck due to a driver’s negligent actions.
Damages in a Bus Accident
- Economic Damages: Quantifiable losses including property damage, lost wages, and medical bills a bus accident attorney in Los Angeles can help you get compensated for.
- Non-Economical Damages: Include pain and suffering and other costs that are more difficult to quantify in dollar amounts.
- Punitive Damages: Intended to punish a negligent party or offender of the law and may be determined with or without a jury.
Common Bus Accident Related Injuries
Bus accident injuries range from mild-to-moderate trauma to severe, life-threatening conditions that result in death or significant impairments. Whiplash is a common injury for bus passengers and occurs when the neck snaps forward due to the momentum of a victim’s body. It can cause serious injuries to the neck. If the spinal column is injured, damage to the spinal cord, vertebrae, and spinal discs can cause permanent damage and paralysis.
Impacts with a bus seat, roof, or object can cause head injuries such as lacerations or a concussion, which can potentially trigger a traumatic brain injury. The symptoms range from blurred vision and trouble concentrating to confusion, memory loss, and loss of motor function. Other common injuries include broken bones, internal bleeding, and internal organ damage. Our bus accident lawyers in Los Angeles are also familiar with various types of bruises and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can cause depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and other issues.
What Kind of Compensation Can Be Recovered After a Bus Accident?
The damages our bus accident attorney in Los Angeles can recover depending on the circumstances of the accident and client’s injuries. Monetary damages can be calculated by assessing the nature of your injuries, current and future earning capacity, marital status, dependents, and the type of medical care you need. With the help of your attorney, claims may be filed for:
- Medical costs (past, present, and future)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Expenses related to life care
- Punitive damages
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Workers’ compensation
- Wrongful death
- Loss of consortium (services an uninjured spouse would provide)
What Should I Do Right After a Bus Accident?
Actions taken immediately after an accident can affect the success of your claim, or whether it can be filed. It’s essential to:
- Remain calm
- Call 911
- Seek medical attention (if necessary) for yourself or anyone injured
- File a police report
- Record names and badge numbers off investigating police officers
- Record witness contact information
- Stay on the accident scene
- Photograph damage and injuries
Also, don’t provide statements (written or verbal) to any party other than the police and your insurance company. Under no circumstances should you admit fault, provide the bus company’s insurance carrier with a statement, or sign any forms they send you. Make sure you consult with your Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer.
What Should I Do in the Days Following a Bus Accident?
- Contact the police for a copy of the accident report.
- Contact your insurance company for a property damage valuation
- Record any out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident.
- See a doctor as soon as possible.
- Record doctor and other healthcare provider visits.
- Obtain copies of medications, treatments, test results, and other medical information.
- Record the time you missed work and other activities after the accident.
- Consult with a lawyer before accepting any insurance settlement.
Other Bus Accident FAQs
I did not feel any pain at the scene of my bus accident, but I do now. What should I do?
- You should seek medical attention after a bus accident, even if you don’t believe you were hurt. Acute injuries can have delayed symptoms. There are also legal reasons because medical records taken after the accident can prove you were injured and help you get compensation for medical bills. If you didn’t receive medical care at the scene or soon after, obtain a full evaluation from your doctor. A physician can determine whether crash-related injuries are causing your pain and other symptoms.
How long do I have to file my bus accident claim in California?
- You have six months to file a claim. A statute of limitations applies because most bus companies are classified as government entities, so the time period during which you can file a claim is limited. Claims must first be filed with the transit authority (which can be done online), and then you have two years to file a lawsuit (from the date of the accident).
What happens if I pass the statute of limitations to file a bus accident claim?
- Your options are limited unless there’s a good reason you missed the statute, such as a serious injury. The statute of limitations may be appealed in this case, or if your attorney wasn’t aware of the deadline. You can still try to file a claim, although your recovery may be limited or barred. If you are in this situation, please contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys. At The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, we can evaluate your case and let you how you can proceed with your case.
What should I do if the bus company calls me?
- If you answer the phone and the caller is someone from the bus company, their insurance carrier, or a representative, do not supply any information other than that you’re working with a Los Angeles bus accident attorney.
What should I do if my child was injured on a school bus?
- Contact a school bus accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can assist in the investigation and put together evidence such as photographs and the nature of your child’s injuries. The more information your attorney has, the more likely they will be able to establish a valid claim against the liable party.
The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
As bus ridership has increased in recent decades, accident and injury rates have increased despite improvements to highways and transit systems. The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani will defend any client injured in a bus accident. Experienced in bus accident litigation in Los Angeles, our legal team can take on bus companies and their powerful insurers and recover damages that can financially compensate you for a personal injury and its impacts on your life.
The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani serves all of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, San Diego County, the Inland Empire, and cities in Northern California including San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento. Our representatives are flexible and can set up meetings at your home or office in the communities we serve. We have succeeded in filing many bus accident claims and winning cases so clients receive damages they’re entitled to under California law.
Whether you or a loved one is the victim of a tour bus accident, Greyhound bus accident, or other incident involving a common carrier or its operator, the Los Angeles bus accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani are here to help. Browse our FAQs and other resources for information. For a case consultation and/or evaluation, contact us at 888-952-2952 or via our electronic message system today.