California attracts many tourists from within and outside the state. The state has many tourist attractions, including state parks, Disneyland, coastal areas, and national parks. Every year, California receives millions of tourists from all over the world. Californian roads always have numerous tour buses. It’s also common for inter-state tour buses to pass through California moving to other states. With so many tour buses ferrying tourists to and from different attractions, tour bus accidents are inevitable. Most tour bus accidents occur due to various parties' negligence, like the tour bus driver or the tour bus company. If you suffer catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accident, you should seek compensation for your damages. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can evaluate your case and help you seek compensation.
A catastrophic injury refers to an injury with direct and proximate consequences that could permanently hinder or prevent you from performing meaningful or gainful work. Often, catastrophic injuries are so severe that they cause permanent damage to the victim. The majority of catastrophic injuries result in damages to the brain or the spine. A catastrophic injury could have long-term effects on your functional capabilities. These extensive injuries could mean losing an essential part of your person. For instance, you could lose a limb, your ability to walk, or lose a critical brain function. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can seek compensation for the wrongful and the life-changing harm.
Why should you seek compensation for a catastrophic injury? The more extensive the damage suffered in an accident, the higher the cost of seeking treatment. Therefore, catastrophic injuries attract higher medical expenses that standard injuries. The treatment for a catastrophic injury could include surgery and many months of rehabilitation. You may also require permanent use of medication or a medical device.
After suffering catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accident, you would have to stay out of work. Therefore, you need to seek compensation for the lost wages for the time you spend away from work. You should also seek compensation for the emotional harm that results from suffering a catastrophic injury.
Catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accidents fall under three main categories:
- Physical Injuries
- Cognitive Injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Physical injuries include injuries like burn injuries, amputation, organ damage, severe fractures, and damages to your orthopedic tissue or function. On the other hand, spinal cord injuries refer to injuries that affect the spine. Spinal cord injuries are serious because they could result in permanent disability for the victim. Cognitive injuries are the most serious of catastrophic injuries. Cognitive injuries are the most costly, both financially and emotionally, and often result from brain damage. Catastrophic injuries could affect your ability to speak and work.
Catastrophic injuries affect not only the victim but also the victim's family members. If you suffer catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accident, you may need a caregiver to enable you to perform routine activities like grooming. It’s often hard for family members to take care of people's cognitive and mobility limitations. For instance, your spouse may have to resign from their job to have ample time to take care of you. If your relative is not available, you may have to spend money on hiring a caregiver.
Catastrophic Injuries Resulting from Tour Bus Accidents
When a tour bus accident occurs, the severity of the bus occupants' injuries will vary depending on several factors. The factors that determine the extent of injuries include the tour bus's speed at the time of the accident, the design of the tour bus, and the involvement of other vehicles. The injuries may also vary depending on the type of tour bus accident. For instance, the injuries sustained in a collision accident may differ from those sustained in rollover tour-bus accidents. Some of the common catastrophic injuries sustained in tour bus accidents are:
Severe Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are among the most severe injuries that you are likely to sustain in a tour bus accident. The accident's impact could make your brain bump within the skull and result in brain tissue damage. Traumatic brain injuries result from the direct trauma exerted on the brain. Brain injuries in tour bus accidents are common because buses lack crucial safety features like safety belts and airbags, unlike other vehicles. When a bus accident occurs, passengers may toss and collide with the bus's walls before falling on the bus floor.
In some instances, brain trauma could be severe enough to lead to hemorrhage in the brain. After suffering from traumatic brain injuries, you could fall into a coma for days or months after the accident. You may remain in a coma for a long time without understanding your surroundings. If you are lucky enough to get out of a comma, you may have constant challenges like:
- Difficulties in movement, coordination, and maintaining balance
- Speech impediment or difficulties
- A hard time controlling your emotions
- Memory loss
- Problems paying attention or focusing
How can you tell that you have suffered a traumatic brain injury after an accident? The symptoms of brain injury will differ depending on the extent of the harm. Some of the common signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury are:
- Constant headaches
- Long periods of unconsciousness
- High sensitivity when exposed to light
- Too much sleep or insomnia
- Slurred speech
If you notice these symptoms after a bus accident, you should seek immediate medical care. You should never dismiss the symptoms as mild. Your ability to recover from a traumatic brain injury will depend on how fast you seek treatment after an injury. The damage could get worse if you stay long before seeking medical treatment.
Spinal Cord Injuries
You may also suffer catastrophic spinal cord injuries in a tour bus accident. Spinal cord injuries occur when the ligaments and the discs of your spinal cord suffer damages. You could also suffer sudden traumatic shock on your spinal cord and end up dislocating or crashing the vertebrae.
At times, you may not realize that you have suffered spinal cord injury immediately after an accident. You may only notice the symptoms of the spinal cord injury days after the accident. The accident's impact could impair the nerves on the spinal cord leading to temporary or permanent disability.
Spinal cord injuries could confine you or your loved one in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. Therefore, you should never hesitate to recover injuries after a tour bus accident.
Severe Burn Injuries
You may also sustain severe burn injuries after a tour bus accident. Burns are likely to occur if fuel leaks, and the bus ends up catching fire. The burns are likely to be more extensive if the bus passengers are trapped within the bus and cannot exit. For instance, a tour bus may collide with another vehicle or roll over and then catch fire. Severe burns could penetrate the skin layer and affect your muscles, bones, and nerves below the skin. If you suffer severe burns in a tour bus accident, your life may never be the same again.
Burns could lead to permanent scars and disfigurement, leading to low self-esteem. You may no longer feel comfortable to visit public places after suffering from severe burns. Most people who suffer severe burns and permanent scarring end up developing other social anxiety and depression conditions. You may spend most of your life in the hospital and require many surgeries and therapy.
Burns sustained in a tour bus accident may fall under three categories:
- First-degree burns
- Second-degree burns
- Third-degree burns
First-degree burns are minor burns that only affect the top layer of the skin. First-degree burns heal fast, and many do not require extensive treatment. Second-degree burns are more extensive and severe than first-degree burns. However, they are less penetrating compared to third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are the most catastrophic and could damage your nerves and muscles. Third-degree burns require long periods of treatment. You may require skin grafting and other therapies to treat third-degree burns. To reduce the disfigurement resulting from the burns and restore various parts of your body, you may require constructive plastic surgery.
Other Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries resulting from tour bus accidents are unique, depending on the type of accident. Other catastrophic injuries that you may sustain in a tour bus accident are:
- Organ Damages
- Internal injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Post-traumatic vision loss
Leading Causes of Catastrophic Tour Bus Accidents in California
Catastrophic tour bus accidents could occur due to a wide range of factors. For you to seek compensation after a tour bus accident, you should be able to identify the exact cause of the accident. Knowing the cause of an accident will help you identify the negligent party, which will make it easy for you to seek compensation. Some of the leading causes of tour bus accidents in California are:
Disregarding Traffic Rules
Traffic rules are important because they help create order on the road and guide motorists to take at different points while driving. Typical traffic rules include warnings of dangerous road conditions, yield signs, stop signs, and speed limits. A tour bus driver must be attentive to all the traffic rules to avoid accidents. If a driver disregards traffic rules and fails to yield a right-of-way to other drivers, for instance, collisions may occur. Failure to obey traffic rights while crossing an intersection could lead to a collision with oncoming vehicles.
Failing to observe speed limits, especially in dangerous road conditions, may lead to rollover accidents. A tour bus driver should adjust his speed depending on the road conditions. For instance, in wet reds or on roads with loose gravel, a driver should observe the right speed limits.
Driver fatigue is also a leading cause of tour bus accidents in California. Tour bus drivers often drive for long distances, and this could be exhausting for the driver. If a driver does not get ample rest, he or she may cause an accident. It’s common for fatigue tour drivers to fall asleep while behind the wheel and end up causing an accident. Exhaustion exhausts a tour bus driver’s ability to make quick decisions.
Drunk or intoxicated driving is also a leading cause of tour bus accidents in California. A tour bus is a common carrier, and the law has in place strict DUI laws for commercial vehicle drivers. Therefore, a tour bus driver should never operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or more. When a driver is under the influence, he or she may not be able to focus on the road and may not spot potential hazards. In case of an accident, an intoxicated driver has a slower reaction rate than a sober driver. If you suffer catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accident due to an intoxicated driver, you should hold the intoxicated driver liable for your injuries.
Poor Bus Maintenance
Tour bus operators have the responsibility of maintaining tour buses in good condition. If a tour bus accident occurs due to a poorly maintained tour bus, the tour bus company may blame the accident. The tour bus company must always ensure that:
- All the components that enhance the efficiency and the safety of the tour bus are working well
- Emergency exits and emergency doors are all functioning as they should
- The bus undergoes routine inspection and maintenance by qualified experts
- The bus undergoes an inspection before embarking on a trip
If an accident occurs due to a faulty bus, the tour bus company may be liable for failing to maintain the bus in good condition.
Poor Road Conditions
Tour bus accidents could also occur due to poor road conditions. Road conditions that often lead to accidents include dangerous curves, missing guardrails, potholes, wheel ruts, and construction zones with loose debris. Poor road conditions could also result from natural causes like storms. If a bus accident occurs due to poor road conditions, you could seek compensation from the party responsible for maintaining the road, usually the government.
Seeking Compensation After a Tour Bus Accident
You can only seek compensation successfully after a tour bus accident if you can prove the theory of negligence. A party is negligent if the accident resulted from his or her wrongful act or inaction. You should prove that a duty of care existed, and the liable party breached his or her duty of care. You must also prove that your catastrophic injuries resulted from the liable party's breach of care duty.
California law holds commercial drivers like tour drivers at a higher standard of care than regular drivers. Therefore, a tour driver may be liable even if he or she commits a seemingly minor offense. Tour bus drivers owe the tourists on the bus and other road users the utmost duty of care.
Several parties may be liable in a tour bus accident. Some of the potentially liable parties in an accident are:
- Tour bus drivers
- Tour bus operator or company
- Tour bus destination
- Tour bus manufacturer
- Government agencies responsible for maintaining the roads
A tour bus driver may be liable after an accident for engaging in negligent driving or drunk. A driver would be liable as long as the accident occurred due to the driver’s failure to exercise caution.
The tour bus company could be liable because of the tour bus driver’s negligence. The company could also be liable for hiring an incompetent driver. A tour bus company could also be liable for failing to maintain the tour bus in good condition.
A bus destination could be to blame for a bus accident if passengers suffer catastrophic injuries while alighting the bus at a destination. Tour bus companies often have multiple stops. Therefore, if a tour bus accident occurs due to hazardous conditions at the tour bus destination, the tour bus driver could be liable for the accident.
Damages Available After a Tour Bus Accident
Immediately after an accident, you should contact your injury attorney to guide you through the process of filing a claim to seek compensation. Your attorney will send a notice to the defendant or the defendant's insurance company, informing them of your intention to file a claim. If the defendant fails to respond, your attorney will help you file a personal injury lawsuit in court. You can settle a personal injury claim in or out of court, depending on the defendant's cooperation.
Some of the damages that you could be able to claim after filing a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost Earning Capacity
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Loss of consortium sought by the victim’s spouse or registered domestic partner
- Wrongful compensation is offered to the deceased's relatives or dependents.
Don’t take too long before contacting an attorney after suffering injuries in a tour bus accident. You should give your attorney ample time to investigate your case and chart the way forward. You have to seek compensation within the applicable statutes of limitations.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one sustains catastrophic injuries in a tour bus accident, you’re entitled to compensation. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can guide you on the way forward and help you seek compensation. Contact us at 424-231-2013 and speak to one of our attorneys.