Most of us wouldn’t think twice before hopping on a bus for our daily commute. Not only are buses an environmentally-friendly transportation decision, but you may also perceive it to be a safer alternative than biking or driving.
And you wouldn’t be wrong.
Riding in a bus is one of the safest means of transportation available. But, like any other vehicle on the road, accidents do happen. And when they do, they can be tragic. In accidents involving busses, what happens to the bus passengers, the drivers of the other vehicles involved, or even pedestrians?
If you’ve been injured either as a passenger on a bus or as the victim of an accident involving a bus, you may be wondering if you’re entitled to compensation. And if so, how do you know who is at fault for the accident — the bus driver or the bus company?
No two cases are alike, and the answer will depend on several factors as well as your particular situation. Still, today we’re taking a closer look at some of the scenarios that can impact who is generally responsible in the event of a bus crash.
Common Causes of a Bus Accident
The top cause of bus accidents comes down to negligence on the part of the bus driver. Negligence can include anything from fatigue and distracted driving (often thanks to cell phones) to drunk driving or falling asleep at the wheel.
Additionally, bus accidents can also happen as a result of:
- Unsafe driving, such as quick lane changes
- Inclement weather or other unsafe driving conditions
- When a vehicle blocks a restricted bus lane
- When pedestrians step in front of a moving bus
Who is At Fault — the Driver or the Company?
Much of the case will boil down to whether or not the bus driver and their employer were genuinely negligent, and even that is not always clear cut.
Still, more often than not, the bus company turns out to be the liable party when it comes to damages, not the bus driver. This is largely because the passenger bus company is responsible for ensuring that their equipment is well maintained, safe, and that their drivers are properly trained.
But, bus drivers have a personal responsibility to drive safely and to follow the procedures of their employer. If they fail to follow company policy — or make unsafe choices like traveling on unsuitable roads, running red lights, or driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs — they will likely also share in the liability in the event of a personal injury claim.
Liability Can Be Relative
The question of liability gets even murkier in some cases. Take relative liability, for example. In the event of an accident involving other vehicles, it’s essential to consider all parties’ relative liability. It’s highly likely that the liability in an accident like this is shared between the driver, the bus company, and the other vehicles’ drivers.
The percentage of one party’s liability can often correspond to the percentage of damages that the individual or company is responsible for compensating. This can also apply in the event that you are one of the other drivers. If you are found to be partially liable, for example, the damages you may be entitled to from the other party or parties could be reduced by the percentage of liability you hold.
How to Seek Compensation for Damages Following a Bus Accident
A bus accident can undoubtedly inflict substantial pain and suffering, both on the passengers themselves as well as the victim’s family. Like many personal injury claims, you could potentially be eligible to receive compensation for damages like:
If you were a passenger on a bus that was involved in an accident, for example, you might have personal possessions that were lost or damaged. If your vehicle was involved in the accident, you might face expensive repairs or even the expense of replacing the vehicle outright. Damages can include the cost to repair or replace your personal property.
You may be able to receive compensation for not only the medical expenses incurred immediately following the accident, but also future expenses that might be necessary as a result of the accident.
If the bus accident forced you to miss work and lose income, you could be entitled to compensation. If injuries were severe and you were forced to take on a lower-paying career, you may also be able to factor this into your claim.
Pain and Suffering
A bus accident can be so much more than physically damaging. Passengers may experience emotional trauma as a result of it. Pain and suffering caused by this emotional trauma can often be debilitating. Your attorney will be able to help you document and determine the value of these damages in preparation for your claim.
As you can see above, navigating the question of who could be responsible for damages can be tricky.
But even beyond liability, there are a number of factors to consider when seeking compensation for damages from a bus accident. One relatively common speed bump in bus accident cases comes down to whether the carrier is a public or private company and whether it’s owned or operated by the state, local, or federal government.
Government-run bus lines can be subject to different rules like government immunity or even a statute of limitations that is significantly different — usually shorter — than what would apply to a privately-owned bus line.
Act Quickly After a Bus Accident
Because of the many variables, it’s essential that you act quickly. Be sure to consult with an experienced bus accident attorney, like the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, as soon as possible following an accident.
If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, working with a Carrollton personal injury lawyer who regularly handles motor vehicle and bus accidents can mean the difference between a successful case and a disappointing one.
An attorney with this specialized experience can help you understand who is liable in the event of a bus accident and make sure that you receive the compensation you may be entitled to.
Bus Accident Lawyers in Carrollton: The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare
Have you been involved in a bus accident? Do you need a legal representative to fight for your right to compensation? Contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We help our clients recover funds for medical expenses, lost wages, and even the deterioration of quality of life in cases involving bus accidents.