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Everything You Need to Know About Bus Accidents

Although buses can be one of the safest modes of transportation, any bus that becomes involved in an accident can cause a wide range of injuries to passengers. We explore accident factors and injuries surrounding these kinds of accidents, as well as where to find a Houston bus accident lawyer.

How Common Are Bus Accidents in the US?

Bus icon ilustration

According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, an estimated 286,000 buses were involved in accidents between 1995 and 1999 in the U.S.1 Bus types included small passenger, public transportation, charter, and school buses.

What Makes Being on the Road with Buses So Dangerous?

The most obvious danger of sharing the road with these vehicles is their size and weight; because of these two factors, a bus will be far more likely to involve other vehicles in a crash and take a far greater time and distance to come to a stop.

Another factor that makes buses so dangerous is the fact that they simply do not offer the same level of safety that other vehicles do. For example, a bus doesn’t have airbags or individual seat belts for each passenger. Finally, a bus’s design makes it far more likely to roll over in an accident, causing serious injury or death to passengers.

Types of Bus Accidents

Many kinds of bus accidents can occur, including to the smallest type of bus—the passenger van. You may have seen these buses carrying passengers to daycare facilities, churches, or similar locations.

School buses are another vehicle type that often becomes involved in accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that between 2006 and 2015, 1,172 of the 324,710 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. were classified as being related to school transportation.2

Inter-city buses, which typically travel through a number of cities or across multiple states, were involved in an average of 13 percent of all fatal bus crashes between 2006 and 2016, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).3

The transit buses that transport community members between locations within towns and cities are another common type of vehicle to become involved in accidents. In fact, the FMCSA reports that transit bus accidents were responsible for 34 percent of all fatal bus crashes between 2006 and 2016.4

Driver-Centric Factors That Contribute to Bus Accidents

Bus accidents can be caused by several factors that involve drivers themselves. By far, driver fatigue appears at the top of the list of causes, due to the long and demanding shifts that drivers are often expected to work.

Unfortunately, impaired driving due to drugs and alcohol can also be a factor in these crashes, even though drivers know that doing so is illegal and their passengers are relying on the driver to get them where they need to go as safely as possible.

Bus drivers can sometimes also fail to notice other drivers on the road due to the size of the vehicles they drive, and the fact that there tend to be a far higher number of blind spots on a bus than there are on trucks or cars. Yet another common cause of bus accidents can be driver failure to adhere to state and city traffic laws.

External Factors That Can Cause Bus Accidents

Road conditions at the time a bus is involved in an accident can be a significant cause. All vehicles will have a harder time controlling their vehicle when the road conditions are poor. As well, improper road maintenance can contribute to higher accident risk when combined with inclement weather that makes roads dangerous to travel.

The poor maintenance of a bus can make it more vulnerable to breaking down and causing an accident while it is traveling. The law dictates that bus companies are responsible for regular vehicle maintenance, but, despite this, companies can fail to meet this responsibility.

Mechanical problems can also contribute to bus accidents. For example, a faulty suspension or brake system or defective tires are all potential factors that can cause accidents. Other common bus accident causes include uneven weight distribution, driver distraction, and driving in heavily populated areas.

Types of Injury

Due to their lack of passenger restraints, their size, and their weight, passengers on a bus at the time of an accident can sustain a wide range of injuries to the brain, neck, head, and spinal cord, as well as lacerations and broken bones.

Depending on their severity, the injuries sustained in a bus accident may require lengthy and costly hospital stays, rehabilitation, and pain medication. As well, they may require victims to take time off from their jobs to recover.

Whose Fault Is It?

For those who were involved in this kind of accident, determining fault is the key to getting compensation in court. An experienced bus accident attorney will gather and examine all of the evidence to pinpoint who is at fault. This involves considering reports from the police eyewitness and victim statements, and even bus cameras.

Another driver may have caused the accident or fault may rest with the bus driver or the company they work for. Suppliers of various parts or those who provide maintenance to buses can also be found liable.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Without a Lawyer

Highlighted word "lawsuit"

If you’ve been involved in a bus accident, it’s important to do whatever you can to get compensation for your injuries. There is the option to go it on your own and file a lawsuit without a lawyer—but in doing so, you’ll have to make sure you have all of the necessary evidence, including the reports and statements mentioned above.

You’ll have to ensure all evidence is properly gathered; for example, only facts are admissible in court; you’ll need to be sure that witness statements, including your own, are free of opinions. It’s also important to thoroughly investigate all possible accident causes.

If you are trying to recover from your injuries, conducting a thorough investigation and gathering the proper evidence can be incredibly difficult if not impossible. Also, going without legal representation in court can result in you receiving far less for your injuries than you deserve.

Benefits of Filing a Lawsuit with an Experienced Attorney

Notary lawyer discussing contract papers with Businessman client in office

In getting a lawyer and filing a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll have an experienced professional on your side who understands these kinds of cases and who will be able to get you the highest possible amount of compensation. This will be very valuable to you if your injuries have forced you to take time off work and have left you wondering how you will pay your bills.

Attorneys who specialize in these kinds of accidents already know how to gather evidence properly and ensure that thorough investigations are conducted. This means that needed information can be gathered in far less time, and your case built more quickly.

Top Houston Bus Accident Lawyers

If you’ve been injured in a bus accident, then you need an attorney with this kind of specific experience. The Houston car accident lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. have a combined 100 years of trial experience in personal injury law and bus accident cases.

We know how to navigate complex lawsuits, but we also understand the many ways that bus companies and their insurance providers will try to avoid responsibility so they don’t have to pay you for your injuries and lost wages. If you’ve sustained injuries in a bus accident, get in touch with our team today and claim your free consultation: 713-364-0723.

Sources:

  1. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/1352/95100.0001.001.pdf;sequence=2
  2. https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/2015_school-transportation-related_crashes_traffic_safety_fact_sheet.pdf
  3. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016
  4. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016
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Jonathan S. Harris and Matthew D. Shaffer are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Other attorneys are not board certified.  Principal office is located in Houston, Texas.