A significant number of people use buses as their mode of transport in California. The large population in California and congested roads make it inevitable for bus accidents to occur. When bus accidents happen, the victims could be bus passengers, pedestrians, other motorists, or people waiting to board the bus. Injuries from bus accidents differ with some being mild, others catastrophic, or even death.
You could suffer different injuries and losses that need compensation. California is a fault and a comparative negligence state. Therefore, you must establish the party responsible for the accident to receive damages. Seeking damages from a bus accident is not always straightforward because of the many players involved. However, with the help of a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney lawyer, it easier to fight for and receive the compensation you deserve.
Major Bus Accident Causes
As earlier stated, bus accidents cause injuries to victims who are passengers, pedestrians, or motorists. Before seeking compensation following a bus accident in California, you must establish the accident cause. Knowing the cause of a bus accident becomes crucial in determining the party you seek damages from. Some of the common causes of bus accidents include:
Hazardous or dangerous roads can be a reason a bus accident occurs. Roads can be dangerous because of various reasons. When the road is cracked or has a pothole, it poses a danger. The impact of a bus accident can cause injuries to bus passengers and other road users. An unmarked way is also a danger to road users.
For instance, if there is a road construction ahead, warning signs must be placed at a reasonable distance before the building is. If this is not well placed, a vehicle can drive right into the construction, damaging the site, injure the workers, and vehicle occupants.
Trucks are also known to spill oil and other dangerous materials on the roads. When this happens, warning signs must be placed to warn motorists against the slippery road ahead as the entities responsible work to clean it. If this is not done, a bus can drive right into the oil spill, causing it to skid and cause an accident.
The state of California has a department or agency that ensures the roads are kept safe. If a bus causes an accident due to dangerous road conditions, the state agency will be held accountable.
Driving Under the Influence
It is a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, and prescription medications or over the counter ones. Despite this, many drivers continue to drive while impaired, becoming a danger to their passengers and other road users. Unfortunately, some bus drivers operate their buses while intoxicated by some of these substances.
An impaired driver cannot respond to emergencies or challenges they come across on the road as a sober driver would. When drivers are on medication that causes them drowsiness, they are expected to report this and stay away from driving the bus until they complete their drugs. Unfortunately, some will not say and will continue endangering lives to earn a living because of fear of losing wages.
When a bus causes an accident, the police arrive at the scene to establish the accident’s cause. They will try to determine if the bus driver was intoxicated or any other driver involved in the accident. If intoxication or impairment is established, the driver will face criminal charges for driving under the influence and be held accountable for the accident.
Exhaustion or Fatigued Driver
The long hours’ bus drivers find themselves on the road can result in them being tired and exhausted. Bus drivers know that the more they work, the higher their income becomes. As a result, a bus driver who wants to maximize their pay may request extra shifts and believe they are fit to drive. Bus companies also ask drivers to work for longer hours, especially when short-staffed or want to increase their income.
Unfortunately, overworking results in fatigue, which is dangerous when operating a bus on the road. According to the law, bus drivers are supposed to take scheduled breaks to protect them from exhaustion. When an accident occurs because the bus driver was tired, they are held accountable for the injuries sustained by their passengers or other victims. The bus company that allows drivers to work for long hours without appropriate breaks can also be held accountable for the accident.
Passengers on a bus can also be a reason for a bus accident. School going kids can start fights or become unmanageable on the bus causing a distraction for the driver. Grownups and tourists on a bus can also become excited and unruly, distracting the driver. Distraction is known to be a cause of traffic accidents.
Alighting from a bus before it makes a complete stop is irresponsible of a passenger. Unfortunately, this also happens and can lead to severe injuries to the victim. When a passenger or passengers are responsible for the bus crash, the damages suffered are shared according to the comparative negligence rule. Blame is apportioned according to the degree of negligence by the parties involved. And compensation awarded according to the same.
Driving at prohibited high speeds is an offense in the state of California. Unfortunately, this does not stop some drivers from being reckless on the roads and even other motorists. When a driver drives at excessive speeds, it becomes challenging for them to control their vehicle if faced with an emergency on the road.
Pedestrians Bus Accidents
On most occasions, pedestrians are believed to be the victims of bus accidents or other traffic accidents. Unfortunately, pedestrians do contribute to accidents. If you are walking along the road and do not have reflective clothing on you, a bus driver can easily knock you. Crossing from the wrong place or without ensuring that the way is safe for you to pass can result in a bus hitting you.
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians are often fatal or leave the victim with catastrophic injuries. If you are hit by a bus as a pedestrian, the fault must also be established in California. If the blame is squarely on the bus or its driver, you will receive damages from their insurance provider. However, if you share the responsibility, the damages awarded will be allocated according to your degree of fault.
Although reckless driving is not ordinary in buses, it does occur, resulting in accidents. A bus driver can be careless when they jump lights, join or exit streets carelessly, or swerve while on the highway. When an accident occurs due to recklessness, the bus passengers and other road users will suffer different injuries. The responsibility for the damages is placed on the careless driver. And compensation is sought from them or their insurance provider.
Sometimes, a bus can have mechanical problems that result in an accident. Mechanical faults can be due to poor design of the bus, manufacturing mistakes, or faulty parts. When a bus causes an accident due to a mechanical issue, establishing the right party to blame for the crash is critical. The bus manufacturer, the faulty part, seller, or the auto shop can be held liable for the accident.
If the bus left the manufacturer in excellent condition, the party to blame would not be its manufacturer. The bus company or owner can also be blamed if they failed to maintain the bus as they ought to. The auto shop can also be blamed if it replaced a damaged part with a faulty part or failed its maintenance duty. Your experienced lawyer understands the various players and will establish the right party to blame for the accident.
To be a bus driver, you need specialized training and experience in operating the particular bus. Buses are different from conventional vehicles, and as such, a driver must understand how to operate and manage a big car that may perform differently. When a bus company buys a new vehicle, it must ensure the drivers who are assigned to it understand its operation and drive it well.
Additionally, bus companies must carry out periodic training for their drivers to familiarize themselves with new regulations and driving techniques. If a bus driver is untrained or inexperienced, they can easily cause an accident that injures the passengers or other road users.
Unfortunately, when they lack drivers, some bus companies will employ inexperienced ones to operate their buses. This is reckless on the part of the company because of the risk of accidents. When an accident happens, the party to blame for your damages can be either the bus company, driver, or both.
Lousy weather is natural, and a driver cannot control it. Unfortunately, many accidents can occur due to poor weather. For instance, when driving during a storm, it isn’t easy to see the surroundings. When vision is not excellent, a driver can hit a stationary object, a pedestrian or another car and injure the passengers and other parties.
Different Kinds of Bus Accidents Resulting in Injuries to Passengers and Other Parties
With the various causes of bus accidents discussed above, a bus can become involved in multiple types of crashes, injuring its passengers and those that are hit. Some of the accidents that result in these injuries are:
- T bone accidents – This type of accident is prevalent at intersections or junctions. When approaching an intersection, drivers are expected to drive slowly and even come to a stop to avoid crashing into each other. Most intersections are controlled by traffic lights that, when obeyed, will ease traffic flow and prevent accidents. However, some drivers disregard the lights and fail to yield a way to oncoming vehicles. If a bus driver is reckless in operating the bus, this behavior can result in a T-bone accident where another car hits it on the side, or the bus crashes another vehicle on the side. The collision’s impact will cause injuries to both the bus passengers and the other motor vehicles’ occupants.
- Rollover accidents – As the name suggests, these accidents turn over the bus to the side or on its top. Depending on the forcefulness of the impact, a coach can roll over several times resulting in catastrophic injuries. Buses are often without seatbelts meaning the passengers are not secured on their seats. Additionally, they have no airbags, and any impact will forcefully hit directly at the passengers.
- Rear-end collisions – Bus drivers can also cause rear-end crashes or hit other vehicles from behind. When the car ahead applies abrupt brakes, and the bus driver cannot stop as fast, they will hit the car ahead. The impact will cause the bus passengers to bombard each other and the bus’s body, injuring injuries. Equally, the occupants of the vehicle hit will also have injuries as a result.
- Head-on collisions – When vehicles are approaching each other from different directions, they can crash into each other with their fronts. This is what is referred to as head-on collisions. These types of accidents are very violent, resulting in significant injuries and sometimes fatalities. The responsibility for this type of accident is often shared, but establishing the party responsible is critical to your receiving damages as a passenger.
Injuries Passengers and Other Parties Sustain Following Bus Accidents
Accidents involving buses often result in injuries ranging from minor ones to catastrophic ones. The nature of the injuries depends on the impact of the accident and its intensity. Even with the slightest effect, passengers on a bus often sustain injuries more than other vehicles. As earlier stated, coaches are made without enhanced safety features for its passengers.
Compared to conventional vehicles that have seatbelts and airbags, buses do not have these fitted. When an accident occurs, the passenger is not held securely in place and is likely to fall off the seat, hit against the bus or other passengers.
The size of a bus is more significant than most conventional vehicles. As a result, when a bus hits a pedestrian or another car on the road, the impact causes substantial damages and injuries. Some injuries bus passengers and other victims sustain following bus accidents include:
- Fractured and broken bones – When an accident involving a bus occurs, it can result in the victims sustaining fractured or broken bones. The passengers are thrown all over the bus, while the occupants of another vehicle are hit forcefully. All the accident victims can have their bones broken or fractured, requiring extended treatment to recover from the injuries.
- Damages to the soft tissues are injuries mostly sustained by passengers on a bus, especially when the impact was not severe. For instance, a bus hitting a pothole or screeching to an abrupt stop can result in the passengers crashing against the bus’s body resulting in these injuries.
- Head injuries – A passenger on a bus can hit their head against a bar on the bus and is injured. A coach can hit a person waiting to board it with its side mirror, injuring them when it comes to a stop. A bus that runs a pedestrian or another vehicle can result in the other victims suffering head injuries. Depending on the severity of the impact, injuries to the head can cause a mild concussion to traumatic brain injuries. Treatment cost and recovery from this injury depend on its severity. When severe, some head injuries can leave the victim in a vegetative state that would require constant care.
- Injuries to the spine – Bus accidents can result in the victims suffering injuries to their spine. The spinal cord holds the central nervous system, and an injury can cause damage to your nerves. If your nerves are injured, you may lose functioning in some of your body parts temporarily or permanently. Most individuals that sustain significant injuries to their spine end up paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
Pursuing Damages in Bus Accidents
California compensation law is based on two theories following a traffic accident. The at-fault method means that the entity responsible for your injuries pays for the damages that follow. The other approach is that of comparative negligence. Sometimes, the party you seek damages can claim you are partially to blame for the accident and refuse your claim entirely. When this happens, your lawyer will petition the court for your losses. The jury will listen to both sides and decide who is to blame for the injuries you sustain. If blame is shared amongst more parties, the damages are shared according to the degree or percentage of fault.
If you are a passenger injured in a bus accident, the laws that govern your compensation are the tort laws. This means, all the victims wounded following a bus accident join together to pursue damages suffered. Most bus accident cases have a lawyer rely on the negligence of a driver to prove responsibility. Your lawyer must prove the driver or any other party responsible for your damages was negligent in their duties. Negligence is shown through the determination of various elements that include:
- The entity responsible for the accident owed you and others a duty of care
- The accountable body violated their responsibility to you with their actions or by failing to take action
- Because of this failure or their deeds, a bus accident happened and
- The crash resulted in injuries to the bus passengers or other victims
Bus drivers are held in higher regard compared to regular drivers. The responsibility of life placed on them is higher than that of a driver responsible for one life or a few. Common carriers like buses are held in higher regard compared to the regular driver.
Compensable Damages in Bus Accidents
California allows victims of a bus accident to receive compensation for their losses following a bus accident. If you are a passenger on a bus, another road user or a victim involved in a collision with the coach, the first step is establishing the party responsible for your injuries. The different losses you suffer and are compensable include:
Medical bills – The injuries you sustained following an accident will require medical attention. The cost of your bills depends on their severity. Minor injuries require visiting the emergency room and leaving while more complicated injuries take time to be treated. Under the compensation law, you will receive compensation for the cost of medication, doctor’s fees, hospital fees, medical procedures, and any other related cost such as that of equipment.
The cost of treatment for the injuries before your claim, current expenses, and future costs are compensable. When filing your application, a comprehensive medical report accompanies it to avoid missing any possible damage in the future.
Lost wages – As you recover from your injuries, you are likely to miss a few days of work or many depending on your injuries. The law recognizes that you still accumulate personal bills that you would have paid if you worked during this time. The wages you lose as you recover from these injuries are recoverable to enable you to take care of your bills.
Wrongful death – If you died following a bus accident, your family could seek compensation. A lot of consideration is taken to decide the value of your life.
Funeral and burial expenses – The cost of burial and funeral for your loved one that died in a bus accident is compensable in California. Your claim should have invoices and receipts for the expenses to have them refunded.
Lost earning capacity – Bus accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that leave you unable to work anymore. If the injuries leave you incapacitated, you will lose the ability to earn a living. This loss is compensable following a bus accident.
Find a Bus Accident Lawyer Near Me
Bus accidents are devastating and could cause injure passengers and damage their property. As a victim, whether a passenger or road user, you could suffer bodily injuries, financial losses, and psychological health problems. Although monetary compensation cannot replace your health and well-being, it could help seek treatment, pay hospital bills, and regain the damaged property. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we have experienced injury lawyers who can help you fight for damages. Call us at 424-237-3600, and we will schedule an appointment to discuss your case.