Buses are deemed the safest mode of transportation alternative to flying for larger groups’ state or interstate travel. However, with the increase in the number of deadly accidents being reported in the news, it is enough proof that buses don’t guarantee safety. Based on 2019 bus accident statistics, a total of 2,734 fatal accidents reported in 2019 consisted of trucks and buses, resulting in 3,087 deaths and 60,818 injuries. The report further states that a total of 122,331 vehicles were wrecked in accidents involving buses.
The three states that were considered deadliest in bus accidents are California, Florida, and Texas. An average of 941 people lost their lives in bus accidents, accounting for 30 percent of fatal bus or truck accidents in 2019.
According to the study, California lost 277 people, and 3,939 others were injured in crashes involving buses and trucks. Out of the 8,696 bus or truck accidents reported, 244 of these collisions recorded at least one death. Bus accidents are catastrophic, mainly because of their sheer weight and size. So, if you are a victim of a bus accident, let the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney help you seek maximum compensation.
Types of Buses
Understanding the various types of automobiles that fall under the bus category will give you a better insight into bus accident statistics. The multiple forms of buses include:
Any coaches that transport people in learning institutions are known as school buses. Typically, they are painted yellow and have black lines running across the sides.
Shuttle buses operate between various points and usually make many drop-offs and pick-ups along the way. These buses are prevalent in highly-populated areas like airports.
Coach or Motor Coach
A motorcoach bus is a comfortable vehicle people rely on for long-distance travel. And because these buses are spacious, they provide ample space compared to other buses and accommodate luggage.
Also referred to as open-top buses, tour buses are used to move tourists to various tourist destination sites. These buses differ in terms of features because some come without roofs, while others are half roofed.
Also called hybrid buses, transit buses are a type of automobiles that operate between towns and cities. The majority of them use fuel or electric engines and have large carrying capacities.
Mini-buses are a form of semi-coach that carries an average of 8 to 20 people and operates both short and long distances.
California School Bus Accident Statistics
Statistically speaking, school buses are eight times safer for children than receiving a ride to school in a standard car. However, the state still reports school bus accidents. According to a 2018 report by the National Safety Council (NSC), school buses’ accidents nationwide led to 117 fatalities. This data was obtained from the NHTSA.
NHTSA defines a school-bus related accident as an accident in which any automobile used as a school bus, regardless of its design, causes or contributes to an accident. The majority of these accidents involve children boarding or getting off the bus.
Because of the safety associated with school buses, 23.5 million students are transported to and from learning institutions by 450,000 school buses annually. These buses cover a distance of 4.3 billion miles annually, moving students to and from school, making school trips, and other school-related activities. The death rate for school buses is 0.2 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The fatality rate for cars is 1.5 deaths per 100 million VMT.
NSC’s 2018 report also shows that of the 117 school bus-related deaths, 81 were passengers of the other car involved in the collision. Twenty-two of the fatalities were pedestrians, nine school bus occupants, three school bus drivers, and two pedal cyclists. Based on this report, more school-going children in standard cars died compared to those in school buses.
Of the injuries sustained in these accidents, 13,000 children have been injured in school bus-related crashes. Of these injuries, 7,000 were passengers in other vehicles, 4,000 were school bus occupants and 2,000 school bus drivers. One thousand pedestrians also sustained injuries from these accidents based on the report.
A report by the NHTSA about school transportation-related crashes shows that between 2006 and 2015, there were 1,172 school bus-related crashes, which represent 0.04 percent of the total motor vehicle collisions. On average, 131 people lost their lives annually based on the report. The majority of the children involved in these crashes were between 5 and 13 years. During morning hours, the accidents were common when children reported to school or evening when leaving school for home.
Given the above statistics, it is evident school transportation has a significant possibility of being involved in an accident. It’s up to the bus, driver, insurer, or state government owner to ensure these buses meet safety standards.
Unfortunately, when any of these parties fail to adequately play their role, it might result in a bus accident. Suppose you have been involved in a school transportation crash caused by the negligence of another party. In that case, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away to begin the process of seeking compensation.
Additional Bus Crashes Statistics Nationwide
Bus crashes in the country occur virtually every week. A 2011 research provided by NTSB titled Curbside Motor Coach Safety showed that in 2009, around 24 million people made trips using charter and tour buses. Although the research is centered on evolving curbside bus transportation, it still contains more general data on the bus and motorcoach industry. Based on the study, buses and CMV are at a higher risk of being involved in fatal accidents. However, the majority of the victims are occupants of the other vehicle, bystanders, or bicyclists.
Additionally, the study revealed that bus occupants and drivers are relatively safer than vehicle occupants. Statistics from the study indicate that there were 45 deaths of bus occupants for 100,000 bus accidents while there were 251 fatalities of occupants of the vehicle per 100,000 bus accidents. From these statistics, we can deduce that occupants of the other standard vehicle involved in a bus collision are likely to suffer more injuries or fatalities than bus occupants.
Another research was conducted in 2010 by Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute on the motor carrier and driver’s history in bus collisions. Based on data collected over six years, there were 63,000 bus-related crashes, 14,000 injuries, 325 fatal injuries, and an average of 50 passenger deaths, drivers included. Charter buses have the highest likelihood of being involved in an accident compared to transit buses.
In 2012, the Journal of Safety Research did a study titled risk factors associated with bus accident severity in the U.S. They discovered that in some way, buses are not safer than standard vehicles. Of all the country’s accidents, buses contributed .06 percent of traffic accidents in the country, making them safer than ordinary cars. Unfortunately, bus collisions for a million passenger miles were 3.04 at the time of the study. The number is equivalent to that of vehicle crashes for million passenger miles, which stood at 3.21.
However, the primary focus of the study was on the characteristics of bus drivers involved in crashes. The study noted that young bus drivers are at higher risk of being involved in a severe accident. The study’s findings further suggest that the severity of bus accidents increases above the age of 55. However, drivers beyond 65 years had the highest likelihood of causing bus accidents with severe and incapacitating injuries.
The study further revealed that 83% of bus drivers involved in bus crashes don’t portray reckless or careless behavior. Only a small percentage (which stood at 4%) of these drivers exhibit risky driving behaviors like DUI, reckless, drowsy driving, or speeding.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Knowing the cause of a bus accident is critical in identifying the defendant in your injury lawsuit. The first step an experienced attorney will do upon taking up your case is establishing the cause of the crash. The common causes of California bus accidents include:
- Collision with other cars
- Bus driver errors
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
- Negligent driving
- Reduced visibility due to adverse weather
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Lack of training
- Reckless driving
- Driver fatigue
- Weather condition
- Weight distribution within the bus
- Bus defects
California law prohibits drivers from calling, texting, or reading while using a public road. However, drivers are allowed to receive or make calls if they are using a hands-free call system. The system should be installed in a manner that doesn’t distract the driver.
Tour or charter bus drivers may be distracted while coordinating passengers while school bus drivers may be distracted when monitoring children. A shuttle or municipality bus driver could also be distracted when keeping occupants safe or responding to their questions.
The massive size of buses and the few mirrors makes it difficult for the driver to see some bus angles or certain sections of its immediate environment. The driver might not see cars or bicyclists approaching from the sides or bystanders entering the bus. For this reason, they might end up turning, pulling off, or changing lanes negligently, thus causing a bus accident. It’s up to the bus driver to check the blind spot and ensure it's safe to change lanes or turn.
Injuries in Bus Accidents
Unlike standard vehicles, buses lack safety features like seat belts and airbags. The lack of these safety features, coupled with the large size of these big rigs, makes injuries sustained from these crashes fatal. Many bus occupants are ejected out of the bus while others fall on the floor. Some of the injuries that stem from bus accidents include:
Spinal Cord and Head Injuries
Sometimes, passengers on the bus may experience severe trauma and extreme forces in the event of a crash. The lack of seat belts means you might bang your head into the bus seat or whip the sides with great force resulting in severe head injuries. Sometimes, if the head trauma is so intense, it could damage your skull and result in a traumatic brain injury. Bus crashes could also result in spinal cord injuries. Victims of these injuries end up suffering partial or full paralysis, which means their lives will never be the same.
Fractured or Broken Bones
It’s common for victims of a bus collision to suffer broken bones and fractures. If a bus driver applies emergency brakes or the bus rolls over, occupants will fall and suffer fractures and broken bones. The injuries could be minor dislocations or severe fractures that require specialized medical care. Some fractured bones might result in permanent disability, while others will require multiple surgeries to treat.
Lacerations and Abrasions
The majority of buses have sharp metal seats and glass windows. In the event of a crash, the broken glasses from the windows might inflict severe cuts on occupants. If these lacerations and that cuts are deep, they might result in excessive blood loss if the victims don’t receive immediate medical attention. Excessive blood loss could result in death. If you are lucky to survive, the lacerations and abrasions will cause permanent scarring or disfiguring, which will affect you psychologically and emotionally. Additionally, if you don’t ensure proper care for the bruises and lacerations, they might result in life-threatening infections.
Internal Organ Injuries
When the body absorbs the excessive force from a bus collision, the pressure might cause internal injuries. The typical internal injuries associated with bus accidents include liver lacerations, kidney damage, punctured lungs, and internal hemorrhaging.
Note that most internal injuries do not exhibit symptoms right after the crash. Most victims experience delayed symptoms. So, you should seek medical treatment immediately after the crash, even when injuries are not evident. Doing so will ensure these internal injuries are treated on time before they get out of hand and become fatal.
Other common injuries in bus crashes include:
- Neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Crushing injuries
- Hip injuries
- Memory loss
- Sensory damage
Some of the injuries sustained after the accident are minor, while others are severe and require extensive treatment. If the damages are extreme, a lot of money will go towards treatment and rehabilitation. For this reason, if you have sustained injuries after a bus accident, you are entitled to seek compensation for your losses.
Potential Defendants in Bus Accident Cases
The defendants in your injury case depend on two key elements. The first is the type of bus crash you were involved in, and the other is the cause of the collision. In bus accidents, potential defendants are:
- Bus driver
- Tour or charter bus operator in case the vehicle is involved in a crash
- Bus driver supervisor
- School transportation operator in the event of a school transportation accident
- The driver of the other car involved in the crash
- Manufacturer of the bus or its parts
- Bus stop property owner if the accident happened at a bus stop
- State or municipality in case the bus is used for public transportation
Keep in mind that these lawsuits can have multiple defendants, including the accident victim if they are partly to blame for the accident. Even if you are partly to blame for the crash, California applies the comparative negligence rule, which means you can still claim compensation from a defendant. However, the amount of payment to be received will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
When seeking compensation in most bus accident injury claims, you, as the plaintiff, must demonstrate that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care.
- The defendant violated the legal obligation.
- The breach of legal responsibility was the causative fact of the bus accident.
If you can prove negligence on the defendant’s side, you will receive reimbursement for the bus crash damages.
Proving Liability in Bus Crashes
To receive compensation, you must demonstrate that any of the above parties were responsible for the accident.
School Bus Crashes
Although school bus accidents are rare, the bus driver or school district will be responsible for the damages if they occur.
If the school transportation driver was responsible for the negligence that contributed to the accident, whether you will sue them or not depends on whether the bus is operated by the school or a contracted bus company. If it’s under a school operator, the school will take responsibility for its driver’s negligence. However, if the driver is a private contractor, the contracting company will be liable.
California adopts respondeat superior law that makes the employer vicariously responsible for the negligence of their employees. The law helps many plaintiffs because even if you sue the driver alone, they might not have any assets or money to pay for your damages.
Note that a school district is a government agency, so you will have limited time to sue them compared to when taking legal action against a school operator or a private company contracted to provide transportation services.
Tour Bus Crashes
Many tour bus companies are used to pushing their drivers to meet unreasonable schedules, which results in speeding and driving for long hours. If the charter or tour bus that causes the accident is privately owned, it must carry specific insurance types. In such cases, you might have to sue the driver, the company, or bus manufacturer if the accident’s cause was bus defects.
Public Transportation Bus Crashes
Public bus crashes typically involve claims against the state, county, or city government. If these commuter buses are government-owned, the process of claiming compensation changes.
State governments enjoy sovereign immunity protection from all kinds of lawsuits. However, California has waived these rights for state agencies if an employee’s negligence results in a crash. If a public bus caused your injuries, you could sue the government agency that operates the buses.
It’s worth noting that although the amount of time for filing an injury claim in a bus accident is two years if the defendant is a government or public entity, the time limit reduces to six months. It means you have less time to file a claim, and if the clock beats you, the right to file a lawsuit will be abandoned.
Compensation in Bus Accident Injury Lawsuits
If a loved one has been injured or lost life in a bus accident, no amount of monetary reimbursement can take your life back to how it was before the accident. However, compensatory damages are not intended to help you regain your old life but provide for your monetary and non-monetary damages. In some incidents, victims might also recover punitive damages meant to punish wrongdoers and discourage others from engaging in similar behavior.
Economic or general damages include all the things with dollar value the victim will lose or spend because of the accident. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, have no fixed dollar value and include things like pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of limb. Compensatory damages in a bus accident include:
- Doctor bills
- Emergency treatment
- Lost income
- Car repair or replacement
- Court fees and legal charges
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Therapy fees
- Emotional pain
What To Do After a Bus Accident
Your bus accident claim isn’t going to be as straightforward as that of a typical car accident. More than one person may be responsible for the injuries, including big firms and public entities.
The legal landscape involved in these lawsuits is complex, hence the need for a personal injury attorney. Cases, especially those against the government, are complicated because the agencies enjoy sovereign immunity and operate on a tight budget. They do their best not to pay any compensation, although you deserve reimbursement for the damages caused by their negligence or refusal to act.
An experienced attorney will gather the necessary evidence and investigate the claim to ensure you receive compensation even if the defendant is a government agency.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
At the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we have been representing victims of bus accidents for years, which is why the statistics on these accidents don’t surprise us. Our attorneys take time to investigate and gather evidence to ensure you have a strong claim. To arrange a zero obligation consultation with our attorneys, please contact us today at 424-237-3600.