When people are traveling in large groups, they consider buses a safe alternative to flying. Many people rely on buses while traveling within the state and for interstate traveling. However, with the increasing number of bus accidents in the U.S, it’s evident that buses are not always safe. In 2019, U.S. registered 2,734 fatal crashes involving buses and large trucks; 3,087 people died in the crashes. According to the same report, 60,818 people suffered injuries in crashes involving buses, and 122,331 vehicles were damaged in crashes involving buses and large trucks. California, Florida, and Texas record the highest numbers of bus accidents and fatalities. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in a bus accident, Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can help you seek compensation.
Causes of Bus Accidents
There are numerous causes of bus accidents in the U.S. Bus accidents could involve other vehicles, pedestrians, or passengers. Rollover bus accidents are also common.
The leading causes of bus accidents in California are:
- Poor visibility due to adverse weather conditions
- Negligent driving including distracted driving
- Collision with Other Vehicles
- Bus driver errors
- Poor road conditions
- Defective vehicle manufacturing
- Poor maintenance vehicle
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Poor visibility due to adverse weather conditions
On February 22, 2020, 3 people died while another 18 suffered injuries in a Southern California charter bus accident. According to the North County Fire and Protection District, which responded to the accident, the accident occurred when the bus lost control. The bus swerved and lost control amidst heavy rains in the area. When the driver lost control of the bus, the bus went over the side of an embankment.
Just like other drivers, bus drivers could also get distracted and end up causing accidents. The common causes of distraction for bus drivers include talking on the phone while driving, eating, or operating the radio while driving. At times, bus drivers are more prone to distractions than regular vehicle drivers. For instance, tour bus drivers could get distracted while trying to coordinate passengers on a tour bus. School bus drivers have a hard task of monitoring children, and this could lead to distraction. Municipal bus drivers could get distracted while ensuring that all passengers are safe while trying to answer passengers' questions and concerns.
Collision with Other Vehicles
It's common for bus accidents to occur when buses collide with other vehicles like trucks or regular vehicles. Recently, ten people died when a truck collided with a bus carrying students in Glenn County. The accident occurred in Northern California when a FedEx tractor-trailer slammed into a bus carrying more than 40 students. The crash was explosive and left more than ten people dead. Most people were able to escape from the bus through an open window before the bus burst into flames. Massive flames devoured the bus and the truck after the accident, followed by two major explosions. The survivors could only look on knowing that some of their counterparts were still stuck on the bus.
At times, it’s not always easy to establish the cause of a bus accident. For instance, in a California tour bus accident on September 19, 2020, authorities could not identify the accident's actual cause. The crash occurred near Shandon, leading to one person's death, while seven others suffered injuries.
In circumstances where the cause of a bus accident is not obvious, it can be hard to establish liability. The parties involved in the accident might be quick to deny liability in the accident. However, if you have a competent personal injury attorney, you can get the compensation you deserve. An attorney will gather the necessary evidence for your case to help establish liability.
School Bus Accidents
In addition to tour bus accidents, California also records a high number of school bus accidents. According to tabulations made by the National Safety Council (NSC) school bus-related, accidents led to the death of 118 people in 2018 in the entire U.S. NSC obtained the data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When NHTSA is documenting school-bus accidents, it considers any vehicle used as a school bus to be involved irrespective of the vehicle's body design. Many school bus accidents involve children getting in and out of school buses.
School bus transportation is one of the safest modes of transportations in the United States. Every year in the U.S, more than 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million students to and from school. The school buses cover more than 4.3 billion miles every year to transport children to and from school or school trips and other related activities. Compared to other forms of transportations, students are much safer riding in school buses. The fatality rate for school buses stands at 0.2 fatalities per 100 million VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled). The fatality rate for other vehicles stands at 1.5 fatalities for 100 million VMT. Therefore, as much as school bus accidents are common in California, school buses remain an ideal form of transportation.
The improvement of the safety of school buses is mainly due to the requirements set by California's Department of Transportation. The requirements revolve around the compartmentalization of school buses and the installation of lap belts. Compartmentalization entails creating a protective envelope using closely placed seats with high energy-absorbing seat backs. This design helps to protect bus occupants in case of an accident.
According to a report issued by NHTSA, 301 school-going children died in school bus accidents between 2006 and 2015. Of the 301 deaths, 54 involved occupants of school vehicles, while 137 were from other vehicles. The deaths also included 102 pedestrians and eight pedal cyclists. According to this report, there were more fatalities in schoolchildren occupying other vehicles than children occupying school buses.
Other facts revealed by the report from NHTSA are:
- Over the last ten years, there were 1,172 fatal accidents involving school vehicles in the United States.
- The majority of the children involved in school bus accidents were between the ages of 5 and 13.
- The majority of the accidents occurred in the early mornings when children report to school or in the evenings when students were leaving school.
If your child suffers injuries in a school bus accident due to another party's negligence, a competent personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation.
Other Bus Crashes Statistics in the United States
Nearly every week, a bus accident occurs in the United States. The NTSB’s study conducted a study on Curbside Motorcoach Safety in 2011. The study focused on the thriving curbside business and highlighted the United States' perspective and general data on the motorcoach and bus industry. According to the study, researchers observed that commercial vehicles like buses have more risk of involvement in fatal accidents. If bus accidents involve other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists, bus drivers and passengers are safer than pedestrian or regular vehicle occupants.
The study further revealed that in 2009, bus occupants' fatality rate stood at 45 deaths for every 100,000 bus accidents. If the bus accident involved other vehicles, passenger vehicle occupants' fatality rate was 251 deaths for every 100,000 accidents. Due to the large number of buses, passenger vehicle occupants are more likely to suffer injuries and fatalities if a bus collides with a smaller vehicle.
The University of Michigan conducted a study on motor carrier type and driver’s history in fatal bus accidents in 2010. The researchers noted that around 63,000 buses got involved in accidents every year. Around 14,000 bus accidents resulted in a severely injured individual, and around 325 of the accidents resulted in fatal injuries. The study revealed that intercity buses were 1.9 times more susceptible to involvement in an accident. The study also revealed that charter buses have a higher likelihood of driver errors than other buses.
The Journal of Safety Research researched in 2012 on risk factors associated with bus accident severity in the U.S. The research revealed that by some means, buses are not safer than regular cars. According to the research, bus accidents contributed to a small percentage of accidents in the U.S.(0.6%). However, the number of bus crashes for a million passenger miles stood at 3.04. This was comparable to vehicle accidents for a million passenger miles, which stood at 3.21.
However, the study mainly focused on the traits of bus drivers involved in bus accidents. Novice or inexperienced drivers increased the risk of bus accident severity. Accident severity also increased in bus drivers of more than 55 years, with the highest risk of drivers above 65. The majority of drivers involved in severe bus accidents do not portray risky or careless driving behaviors. Only around 4% of bus drivers involved in bus accidents have a history of serious offenses like drowsy driving, speeding, or driving while intoxicated.
Common Injuries in Bus Accidents
When a bus accident occurs, injuries are often catastrophic. Unlike passenger vehicles, buses don't have certain safety features like airbags and safety belts. Therefore, when an accident occurs, bus occupants might be ejected from the bus or fall on the bus floor. Some of the typical injuries that you might suffer in a bus accident are:
Spinal Cord and Head Injuries
Bus occupants might experience extreme forces and serious traumas in case of an accident. A passenger's head might smash into the bus seats or whip around violently, leading to severe head injuries. If you experience a blunt force trauma in a bus accident, you could sustain traumatic brain injuries. Other likely injuries include whiplash and spinal cord injuries. Victims of bus accidents could face a lifetime of permanent paralysis.
It's common for victims of bus accidents to suffer broken bones. For instance, if a bus stops abruptly or hits an object, the passengers might fall and suffer fractures and broken bones. The fractures may range from simple dislocations to extensive broken bones that would call for extensive treatment. Severely broken bones could result in permanent disability, while others might call for surgery as the only treatment option.
Cuts and Lacerations
Victims of bus accidents might also suffer cuts and lacerations after an accident. Most buses have sharp metal benches and multiple glass windows. Therefore, in case of an accident, bus passengers might sustain cuts from the sharp glasses from the bus windows. Deep cuts and lacerations could lead to excessive blood loss; if a victim does not seek immediate treatment, excessive bleeding could lead to death. Cuts and lacerations could also lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement. If lacerations become infected, mainly when left untreated, they might be life-threatening.
As the body absorbs the force resulting from a bus accident, internal injuries might occur. Some of the common internal injuries that you might suffer in a bus accident are internal hemorrhaging, punctured lungs, kidney damage, and liver lacerations. Internal injuries might not have obvious symptoms immediately after the accident. The symptoms might show up much later; it is important to undergo check-up even if you do not have visible injuries. You might have suffered internal injuries, and if left untreated, the injuries might be fatal.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Bus Accident
When a bus accident occurs, several parties are likely to be liable. It's not always easy to establish liability in a bus accident. It's important to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you to establish the liable party from which to seek compensation. Some of the potentially liable parties in a bus accident are:
- Tour bus operator if the accident involves a tour bus
- Bus driver
- Bus driver supervisor
- School bus operator if an accident involves a school bus
- Charter bus operator in the case of a charter bus
- Other vehicle drivers if an accident involves other vehicles
- Bus maintenance company
- State, county, or city council if an accident involves a public transportation bus
- Bus stop property owner if an accident occurs at a bus stop
- Bus manufacturer
- Bus part manufacturer
A bus company can be liable for a bus accident if an accident occurs due to an incompetent bus driver. Bus companies have a vital responsibility for ensuring that they hire competent and well-trained bus drivers. Hiring an incompetent bus driver who ends up causing an accident could render a bus company liable. A bus company also has the role of ensuring that buses are in good condition. Therefore, if an accident occurs due to a poorly maintained bus, the bus company might be to blame for the accident. The bus maintenance company might also be liable for failing to identify a mechanical problem, which later leads to a bus accident.
The bus manufacturer might be to blame for a bus accident if the accident occurs due to a manufacturing defect. Bus manufacturers have to ensure that they only release quality vehicles to the market. Manufacturers also have a role in ensuring that they issue ample warnings to consumers if a product is defective.
Sometimes, a bus accident might occur due to poor road conditions. The entity responsible for maintaining the roads might be to blame for an accident resulting from poor road conditions. These entities include state or county public entities. The plaintiff can file a personal injury lawsuit against the government to maintain roadways in good condition or fail to install proper road signage.
In some instances, there are multiple defendants in a bus accident. California is a comparative negligence state that apportions responsibility to the parties involved depending on the degree of fault. According to California's comparative negligence law, you can recover damages even if you're partially at fault in a bus accident.
For a plaintiff to seek compensation in a bus accident, he/she has to prove several elements:
- The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care.
- It should be evident that the defendant breached his or her duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach of duty of care should have significantly contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Compensation Available in Bus Accidents
When you or your loved one suffers injuries in a bus accident, no compensation can be enough to compensate you for your losses. However, it's important to seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. In some instances, you could also seek compensation for punitive damages if the defendant was extremely negligent. Some of the available compensation includes:
- Hospital bills
- Medications and other medical supplies
- Emergency treatment
- Physical therapy fees
- In-home care
- Vehicle repair if the bus accident involving your vehicle
- Lost income
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional pain
- Pain and Suffering
- Court fees and Costs
- Loss of enjoyment in life
You would need the help of a personal injury attorney to help determine your claim's value and assist you in seeking compensation.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have suffered injuries in a bus accident, you can seek compensation for your injuries. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you seek compensation. Contact us at 424-231-2013 and speak to one of our attorneys.