Buses are a standard mode of transport, from school buses, tour buses, and buses for public transportation. Just like other vehicles, buses are subjected to accidents caused by various aspects. When these injuries happen, people can sustain multiple injuries, and some can be fatal. Knowing the cause of a bus accident can help a person know who is at fault and responsible for the injuries sustained during a crash. When involved in a bus accident, you may need to be compensated for the injuries and the cost of getting treatment. Hiring a personal injury attorney will help you in getting your compensation. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we understand the various causes of accidents and the financial, emotional, and physical impact of being in a bus accident.
Overview of Bus Accidents
Sometimes both bus companies and drivers fail to use diligence and care in protecting their passengers. Because of this, accidents happen more often than they should. The state of California offers various tourist attractions. Most tourists are moved around using various kinds of buses, limo-buses, charter buses, double-decker buses, and minibusses.
Aside from tourists, most school districts offer school buses. Many children or students go to school using these buses each day. Public transport buses are also a standard mode of transportation in California. When a person gets on to a coach, they expect they will arrive at their destination safely. Unfortunately, a lot of buses are involved in accidents that result in severe injuries and the killing of pedestrians and passengers.
Injuries that occur as a result of these accidents entitle the victims and their families to compensation. It is advisable for anyone that finds themselves injured following a bus accident to get the services of a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will help you establish if your claim is valid and how to capitalize on getting compensated for the injuries and damages sustained.
Various Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses are just like any other kinds of vehicles using the California roads each day. Likewise, they are also involved in multiple accidents that result in severe injuries to those involved. In California, bus accidents are as a result of many causes, some of which include:
Driver not Seeing other Motorists
The failure of a driver to see other motorists on the road is one of the significant reasons for bus accidents. By structure, buses are bulky and large. This means they have various blind spots making it difficult to see clearly around them. It is important to note that this is not due to negligence, but a bus driver can genuinely fail to notice vehicles approaching from various directions or joining the road. As a result, the driver may not give way where they are expected to end up in a crash.
Failure to Follow the Traffic Rules
Many road users fail to follow traffic rules from time to time. This is the case with bus drivers. When a driver fails to follow traffic rules such as running a stoplight, there is a likelihood of causing an accident.
Bus drivers are also known to over speed. This is a common occurrence for drivers that have a tight driving schedule. Most drivers required to make routine, and regular stops may find themselves running behind schedule. To catch up, they opt to drive at high speeds violating traffic laws on speeding, signaling, lane usage, among others. Due to the driver’s aggressive driving, it is easy to cause an avoidable accident.
A bus is categorized as a commercial vehicle. This means that it is on the road for many hours, and a driver can get exhausted from driving. Often, bus drivers go for long hours without sleep, are overworked, or suffer from certain medical conditions. All these factors, among others, can make a driver lack the required mindfulness when driving, resulting in accidents.
Employers can also be responsible for the fatigue experienced by drivers. Some employers demand their drivers to work long shifts or extra hours against what is legally allowed. This can lead to stress-related issues aside from fatigue resulting in insomnia. A driver that is exhausted can fall asleep on the wheel or zone out and find themselves to have veered off the road.
The schedules for buses are also demanding and can be exhausting to follow through. Fatigue is a significant cause of accidents because the driver is not as mindful as they would ordinarily be. When a person is exhausted, it becomes difficult to react as fast as they should, and their skills on the road are greatly affected. As a result, a bus driver may miscalculate a move that will result in an accident.
Some drivers also take other jobs to supplement their income. This is dangerous because they do not give their bodies the necessary rest to rejuvenate. Keeping the recommended hours and taking the required breaks and rests is essential in keeping the driver alert.
An Intoxicated Driver
It is illegal to drive under the influence in California. Some bus drivers, despite this knowledge, will decide to get drunk or intoxicated by drugs and still get behind the wheel. When a person is intoxicated, they are impaired. Their mental and physical skills are not at their optimum, affecting their performance a great deal. Because of the intoxication or being impaired, a bus driver may end up causing accidents.
Other drivers may suffer from medical conditions that require them to take medications that cause drowsiness. They refuse to report this to their superiors because they do not want to lose wages. When on the wheel, the drugs take effect, and it becomes difficult to control the bus. When drowsiness hits, a driver can sleep on the wheel or is unable to respond to various road issues with the speed and alertness necessary. If an emergency happens that requires their quick judgment; they are unable to, thus resulting in an accident.
Poorly Maintained Buses
A bus owner or company has to keep their coaches well maintained. Unfortunately, not all owners or companies comply with this requirement. They often neglect to maintain their buses. A bus that is not well maintained quickly finds itself involved in various accidents. The federal law requires bus companies to repair and evaluate their coaches often. However, many fail to do so, and unroadworthy buses are driven on the roads. Doing so endangers the lives of bus passengers as well as other road users.
Most bus companies are negligent to federal regulations. Proper maintenance of their fleet eats into their profits, and they often are unwilling to accept this. Instead, they allow buses with mechanical faults on the road that often result in breakdown or accidents.
Mechanical faults are other leading causes of bus accidents. Some of the common errors are in the tires, brakes, lighting, suspension, or steering mechanisms. Sometimes brakes may fail, and the driver is unable to bring the bus to a stop. Controlling the bus becomes a challenge, and an accident can quickly occur. A tire burst is often not expected, but it can happen, causing the bus to lose control and collide into oncoming traffic. Driving at night when the coach has no proper lighting is a recipe for disaster. When the driver cannot see the road clearly, he or she can make miscalculated decisions that can result in accidents.
Steering mechanisms of a bus can fail in the middle of the road. This will mean the driver cannot turn the bus. Instead, the bus keeps going in one direction and can veer off the road or hit other motorists. Poor suspension of the bus can also be responsible for causing bus accidents.
Where there are mechanical failures, often there is negligence involved. When an accident occurs, all those responsible for the bus design or its maintenance may be held accountable due to negligence on their part.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Various conditions on the roads can contribute to a bus causing an accident. Unmarked curves, potholes, inadequate lighting, and roadway, poorly maintained roads as well as zones under construction and not correctly marked can result in bus accidents. Various cities are responsible for the roads and must keep them well maintained. A bus can hit an unexpected pothole that can cause it to swerve and lose balance and either hit other vehicles or rollover.
Bad Road Designs
The design of the road also matters in avoiding accidents. When roads have sudden sharp curves or many lanes merging as well as other features, bus accidents are likely to occur often. If an accident happens due to this fact, the injured victims can sue the government entities responsible for the design to get compensation.
Passengers can also be responsible for bus accidents. Some passengers are noisy, cause distractions by refusing to follow the rules and provoke their fellow passengers. They are a nuisance to other passengers and the driver, as well. The driver, at this time, has his or her attention divided. As he/she tries to attend to the needs of the passenger, he or she may lose focus and cause an accident.
A bus driver should know when they need to ask a passenger to alight or report the unruly passenger to the authorities when the passenger becomes a clear threat.
Prevailing Weather Conditions
Some weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall or snow, can cause poor visibility and slippery roads. With the weight of the bus, it can become challenging to maneuver through the icy roads. Lack of clarity can also make a driver find it impossible to see ahead. These challenges can result in a bus accident.
Accidents because of left turns are among the most frequent bus accidents. When a bus makes a left turn, often, the driver experiences a blind spot that makes it impossible to see other motorists. This often leads to collisions with other road users. For a driver to see motorists, they are forced to lean forward or backward, but even with this, there is no guarantee the blind spot is eliminated.
Other drivers can also be the reason for a bus accident. A negligent driver on the road both due to driving while intoxicated or just a careless driver can hit a bus and cause an accident. Another driver can disregard traffic rules and drive into the bus or is distracted and causes an accident. The bus driver is not always responsible for an accident, but other motorists are a major contributing factor.
Sometimes a bus can start burning from its engine or the tires. Fires can be dangerous, with some passengers being unable to escape. A driver on noticing the engine being on fire or passengers realizing the bus is on fire may panic. A driver, in most cases, gets confused and may be unable to control the bus. The panic from the passengers doesn’t help either. They may start jumping while the bus is moving or moving all their weight to one side, bringing an imbalance in weight distribution. This can make it very difficult for the driver to control the bus, and it ends up in an accident.
Failing to Take Time Off
As earlier mentioned, some drivers may need to make extra cash, and they forgo taking their off days. The law requires every commercial vehicle driver to keep a log of the hours worked, and the time they break between shifts. A guideline is given of how many hours a driver can stay on the road consecutively. Equally, the recommended break before going back to drive is also provided.
Employers as well can encourage their workers to disobey these rules, especially when they have a shortage of drivers by enticing them with the extra income they will make. This can lead to both physical and mental exhaustion, which is a leading contributor to bus accidents. When an accident occurs, the law enforcement officers will always check to see if the driver was violating the required service hours.
Who Takes Responsibility for a Bus Accident?
The entities or persons responsible for an accident depend on the kind of accident and its cause. When a personal lawsuit is filed, the person or entity responsible is referred to as the defendants. The victims or plaintiff is the person suing. Some of the common defendants in a bus accident include:
- The assigned driver of the bus when the accident happened
- The supervisor of the bus
- The operator of a tour bus
- The operator of a school bus
- The operator of a charter bus
- Other motorists
- The company charged with maintaining the bus
- County, state agency or city
- The owner of the bus involved in the accident
- The owner of the property with the bus stop
- The manufacturers of the bus or parts of the bus
Sometimes following an accident, there could be several defendants that share the liability of the damages. In other cases, an injured victim may share fault for the crash and still seek compensation. Based on the law on comparative fault, even when a plaintiff shares in the responsibility, he or she can still claim damages. Even so, the compensation is given according to the degree of fault for each responsible entity or person.
Available Compensations after a Bus Accident
When a person suffers injuries, there is no money sufficient to compensate them. However, being compensated for damages helps a victim with the challenges they face after a crash. Following an accident, a victim can sue for compensation for both non-economic and economic damages.
Some of the economic damages a victim may seek compensation for include medical bills, while noneconomic may include emotional damages that cannot be quantified. Below is a list of the damages a person can seek compensation for after a bus accident:
- Costs of treatment in the emergency room
- Hospital bills incurred
- Medical supplies needed and medication
- Compensation for physical therapy when necessary
- Where a victim requires home care, compensation for the same
- Lost income for the days the victim misses work due to the injuries
- Compensation for lost future earnings
- Damages to your vehicle
- Lost consortium
- Compensation for the suffering and pain a victim goes through
- Emotional pain the victim suffers
- Legal fees and court fees
- Loss of enjoying life
When a bus accident happens, victims suffer from various kinds of injuries. The injuries from a bus accident in most cases are more complicated due to a lack of safety features on a bus. Passengers, on many occasions, are either seated facing the front, back, each other, or even standing. When an accident happens, the passengers are thrown in every direction. They hit against each other, the seats of the bus as well as the windows, bars, or the floor. Some of the most common injuries passengers suffer from include:
- Neck and back injuries or traumas
- Head traumas or injuries
- Broken or fractured bones as well as internal injuries to organs
- Injuries from burns
- Crushing injuries
- Suffering from partial or permanent paralysis
- Lost limbs
Finding a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Many people use buses to move from one place to another. The injuries sustained are more severe because of the lack of safety features as found in other vehicles. The damages a victim suffers can be devastating as well as financially draining. When involved in a bus accident, it is essential to file a lawsuit against those responsible for getting compensated. Finding an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial if one wants to get compensation. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we are experienced in representing our clients and ensuring they get the compensation due to them. Call us today at 424-231-2013, and let us help you with your claim.