In this article, we’ll go through several examples of when it might be prudent to consult personal injury attorneys after a bus crashes or if you suffer injuries on board one.
Where do You Start?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 1,056 bus crashes in 2019 in New York state. Even more sobering is that the average number of accidents involving buses between 2019 and 2019 was 1,068 per annum.
American Bus Association Foundation research indicates that more than 43,880 buses are operating in the United States.
What do These Statistics Mean to You?
With that many buses on the road and the number of accidents in New York and New Jersey alone, there’s a chance of you suffering harm. Should you be injured, what do you do?
The answer is less straightforward as there are many factors at play. Questions a bus accident attorney will ask include:
- What was the vehicle’s classification?
- Was the accident avoidable?
- Did negligence play a role?
- Who is liable for the accident?
- If it is state-owned transport, does sovereign immunity apply?
Complications come into play because it’s not always simple to establish why there was an accident and who is responsible for the damages.
Did the bus crash to avoid a distracted pedestrian? Was the driver unable to react quickly because of fatigue? Could a problem with the bus’s breaks be a factor? Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or a mind-altering substance?
In each case, the accident takes on a different aspect. If someone stepped in front of the bus without warning, that person might be liable. The company might be at fault if they didn’t give the driver enough breaks or adequately maintain the vehicle. The driver might be responsible if they were under the influence.
There could also be a combination of causative factors. Perhaps the driver swerved to avoid someone stepping into the road. The driver may have insufficient training to deal with the situation correctly. The bus’s exits may not be clearly marked, or the company may not appropriately maintain the vehicle.
The task of sorting out who bears what responsibility is difficult liability or negligence becomes even more complicated when the insurance companies deal with claims related to the accident. Insurers will try to minimize their exposure, so they will require a thorough investigation.
If the municipality runs the transport, sovereign immunity may come into play. These regulations prevent people from suing a government agency. This does not mean that you cannot receive compensation, but you must follow the proper procedure.
In New York, for example, you must file the appropriate notice of claim. While the Statute of Limitations is three years, you must file the notice within 90 days or forfeit your right to sue.
Further complications can arise down the road. Injuries sustained during the incident may harm your future. It is simple enough to count the immediate costs in terms of medical bills. They may, however, only be a small part of the overall impact. You might also face loss of income, property loss, and several other incidental expenses that are difficult to foresee.
Finally, there’s the moral imperative. The correct action might prevent a similar incident from happening again.
Why Legal Advice Is Necessary
The complexity of these cases and the potential impact make it essential to get legal advice sooner rather than later. That way, you can understand whether or not you might have a cause of action and make an informed decision about your next steps.
It’s especially crucial to act quickly in New York because the Statute of Limitations is usually three years from the injury date. Let’s examine some examples to see how things might play out.
You’re Injured on a Bus When It’s Crowded
There’s a big difference between being in a bus accident and being in a car accident.
Firstly buses are unwieldy and more likely to flip because of their weight distribution. Secondly, passengers on buses don’t have airbags and seldom have seat belts, so they are thrown around during accidents. Finally, you may not have ready access to an exit on a bus.
These dangers increase when the bus is crowded. This is why the regulations on the number of passengers a bus can carry are so strict. If the bus driver ignores these regulations, you may have a cause of action against the company.
You’re Injured on a Bus by Reckless Driving
In an accident due to reckless driving, you may be able to sue the driver in their personal capacity. Unless you can prove that the company was negligent in vetting their employee, they may not be liable here.
Still, it doesn’t automatically follow that the company is innocent if the driver is reckless. If the driver has a history of misconduct, the firm may not have taken the proper corrective action. In this instance, you’ll need a lawyer to find this out. The firm won’t usually part with such information without the appropriate legal encouragement.
School Bus Injuries
In New York City, more than 1.1 million students use school buses. School bus accidents are, therefore, relatively common.
The drivers of these vehicles must exercise a greater duty of care than with standard vehicles. Not only must they adhere to the prescribed speed limits, but they must also ensure that children cross safely when they get off the bus.
If the injury occurs because the driver exceeds the speed limit or is reckless, they may be personally responsible. Should the accident happen because of poor maintenance along the bus route, the municipality may be responsible. If the vehicle was poorly maintained, the bus company might be liable.
You’re Injured on a Bus Because the Driver Makes a Mistake
If your injuries result from the bus driver making a mistake, the company and driver may both be responsible.
When a Bus Hits a Pedestrian
New York City has over 5,700 buses running at any one time. Pedestrian fatalities may be rare, but injuries are fairly common—liability shifts from one minute to the next. A pedestrian has to be careful when using the road. A driver is responsible for the safety of other toad users.
Injuries Not Related to a Collision
You may hurt yourself by slipping when getting on or off the bus. You may fall on the bus because the driver brakes suddenly, or someone may harm you. In such cases, the bus company may bear some of the responsibility.
If you can prove that you slipped because the stairs were dirty, or the company had a duty to provide security, you may have a case.
When a Bus Gets Into an Accident and Injures Other Drivers
Road users have a responsibility to keep other drivers safe. If you’re driving and are hit by a bus, you may have a claim against the bus driver and the company for which they work.
Here it is especially important to establish liability correctly to ensure that there’s a fair settlement. The bus company may, for example, claim that the driver was reckless to limit their exposure. The driver may, in turn, state that there was a mechanical failure.
You May Have a Duty of Care Yourself
Calling a bus accident attorney may prove essential in understanding your rights and responsibilities. Say that you tripped and fell due to debris on the bus and knocked another passenger over.
You may be able to sue the bus company because of unsafe conditions. The passenger you knocked over may, however, choose to sue you for compensation. The ideal solution might be for both of you to claim from the company, but not everyone agrees.
If the other passenger sues the bus company, they might, in turn, try to prove that you were negligent. Having a legal team on your side may prove vital in such cases.
What Damages Can You Claim?
This largely depends on the state and city you live in. In New York and New Jersey, you may ask for compensation in terms of:
- Your immediate medical bills and future bills for related treatments
- Punitive damages for the pain and suffering
- Lost income and earning capacity
- Property loss
- Loss of consortium where the accident causes you to lose the affection of someone else, or if there’s a loss of sexual ability
- Miscellaneous living expenses if you can no longer perform these tasks
If you’re a cabinet maker and lose the use of your hand, you may receive compensation for medical treatments now and physical therapy in the future.
You may also claim for the loss of wages for the time you spend in recovery. If the injury means you have to take a lower-paid job, you may also make a case for the difference between your potential future income before and after the accident.
If your laptop or other personal property was damaged, you may claim the cost of repairs or replacement.
A severe injury may also make it impossible to complete tasks around the home. In such cases, a settlement amount may include the cost of hiring someone else to complete the work. Understanding what to claim for may improve the chance of a successful settlement.
Who May be Responsible?
Unfortunately, you can no longer rely on companies to do the “right” thing. Everyone considers the bottom line, and personal injury settlements can be expensive. In addition, each party is likely to try and assign blame to another.
The driver is the person who bears the primary responsibility for the safety of their passengers. If they cause the accident because of misconduct or negligence, you may be able to hold them personally responsible.
Bus companies must exercise due care when:
- Hiring new drivers and training them
- Buying new vehicles, inspecting, and maintaining them
- Meeting all state and federal regulations regarding capacity and safety
- Fixing or replacing vehicles found to have an inherent defect
Should they be found to be lacking in these areas, you may be able to sue them.
Bus companies often rely on maintenance companies to keep their buses in good working order. Should the employees working for the maintenance company make an error, it could have severe consequences.
If you can trace back that error to the maintenance company, you may be able to hold them liable for the accident.
Manufacturers must ensure that their vehicles meet all the requisite safety standards. Should an inherent manufacturer’s defect cause a wreck, they may also bear responsibility.
In New York, the law of comparative negligence may apply. Thus, if a pedestrian or motorist causes the accident, they may be partially liable to pay damages.
Turn To Sadaka Associates
Your body is sensitive, and prolonged exposure to toxic substances and hazardous chemicals can cause severe illnesses that can impact your entire life. However, while the link between the exposure and your illness might be clear, proving it in a court of law can be complicated and challenging.
Fortunately, there are toxic exposure attorneys who are ready to offer you the help you need during this trying time. If you are looking for a hazardous chemical exposure attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Sadaka Associates.
Do You Have a Valid Cause of Action?
Do you believe that you’re entitled to compensation? Before taking any action, consult the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates by calling 1-800-810-3457 or reaching out through our website. Explain the situation to our team, and let us advise you on your next step.
We combine science and the law to build your case. Our mission is to further the cause of justice, and we use several tools to do so. Speak to a bus accident attorney today to determine what your rights and responsibilities are.