Many California residents use buses as their daily transport. These could be school buses, buses used in public transportation, and tour buses. Despite its convenience, buses can be involved in an accident like any other type of vehicle. Most bus accidents lead to severe injuries because of their large size and weight. The cause of the accident plays a huge role in identifying the at-fault party. You should hire a lawyer who has experience handling bus accidents to represent you and help you get the compensation you deserve. Remember that you don’t need just any lawyer, but you want someone who can work with you efficiently and help you handle the compensation process as you recover from injuries. If you are in the Los Angeles area, get in touch with us at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney to know more about how we can help you.
Common Bus Accident Causes
Buses are not exceptional when it comes to road accidents; they, too, are involved in accidents which, in most cases, cause severe injuries to the passengers or pedestrians. The following are some of the common cause of bus accidents in California.
Failure to Follow Set Traffic Rules
Most people, including bus drivers, often fail to follow the traffic rules such as traffic lights. Violation of traffic rules by the driver mainly results in an accident. Most bus drivers are known to Overspeed, exposing passengers to possible accidents. Drivers who are expected to carry several trips and have set a target to hit by the day may find themselves running behind time because of the stopovers and pickups at the bus station. That is, they over speed to try to catch up with time. In the process, they may end up breaking laws of signaling, speeding, lane usage, and other traffic laws. In these instances, they are likely to cause fatal accidents.
Driver Not Seeing Other Motorists
The most significant cause of bus accidents is the driver failing to see other motorists. Buses are large and bulky, which means they have blind spots that make it hard for drivers to see clearly around them. That is not always due to negligence; bus drivers can genuinely fail to see a vehicle approaching them or entering the road, resulting in an unintended accident.
Buses are commercial vehicles, which means they are always on the road for long hours and drivers can quickly get exhausted. In most cases, bus drivers spend many hours without sleep or sleep in uncomfortable areas. Others are overworked while some have medical conditions. These factors can make a bus driver lack the road's attentiveness and cause an accident. Some drivers also get exhausted due to the much work given to them by their employers.
Employers force their drivers to work extra hours or long shifts than what is expected. These can lead to mental distress, causing insomnia and complete exhaustion—a driver driving while often exhausted zone out while on the move, and as a result, they cause accidents. Schedules set for the bus can also be demanding and cause exhaustion and can make the driver sleepy. When drivers are tired, they become slow to respond to things, their skill on the road is affected. In short, fatigue is a significant cause of bus accidents because the driver is not as attentive and careful as they would be in normal circumstances.
An Intoxicated Driver
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in California. Most bus drivers tend to ignore this and still drive while intoxicated by drugs or drunk. When a person is drunk, they are impaired in one way or another. Their physical and mental skills are not at their best, which affects their overall performance. As a result, most drivers end up, causing fatal accidents. Other bus drivers may be on medication that makes them feel dizzy. And because they are afraid of being fired, they keep this information to themselves. When such drivers start driving, it becomes hard for them to control the bus due to their medication effects. In case they feel dizzy, it is hard for them to remain focused on the road and to respond to road issues such as alertness and speed, which leads to an accident.
Poorly Maintained Buses
According to federal law, bus owners are supposed to repair any broken parts of the bus and evaluate it regularly. It is the company's responsibility or a bus owner to keep their buses in good shape and ensure that their buses are serviced regularly. Unfortunately, most bus owners fail to comply with this rule; they rarely mind their buses' condition. A poorly maintained bus is likely to cause an accident. You will most often find unroadworthy buses on the roads, which put the passengers and other road users at risk of being injured in an accident.
Mechanical mishaps are among the significant causes of bus accidents. Some mechanical issues include suspension, brakes, lighting, steering mechanisms, or tires. When the brakes fail to operate, the driver is unable to stop the bus. Controlling and driving a bus with faulted brakes puts you at a high risk of causing an accident. Rarely a tire burst may happen, which causes the bus to lose control and crash with another vehicle on the road. Driving at night in areas with no street lights can also make the bus collide with another because the driver may not see. The steering mechanism can again fail in the middle of the road while the driver is on the move, which means that the driver cannot turn the bus, and it only moves in one direction that makes it hard to avoid hitting people or other vehicles. Low suspension of the bus also puts the bus at risk of causing accidents. In cases where mechanical mishaps are the cause of a bus accident, negligence is significantly involved. When a bus accident occurs, the bus company and bus owners are likely to be held accountable for failure.
Poor Road Conditions
Poorly maintained roads can lead to a bus accident. Medians are placed on the road to prevent straying vehicles from colliding with cars traveling in a different direction. However, the median may:
- Have no reflectors leading to confusion and misleading of bus drivers, which may result in accidents.
- Maybe deficient causing the bus to cross to the other side, leading to fatal accidents.
- They may be Very stiff, causing the hitting bus to bounce back in traffic, leading to collisions with oncoming vehicles.
Wrongly put road signs can also be unsafe. The main reason road signs are installed is:
- To inform drivers of road conditions.
- To alert drivers of road inconsistencies.
- To tell the driver the safety regulations to observe on various road sections.
- To alert the driver of potential hazards on the road.
Road signs that are poorly installed can cause road accidents. Also, the ramps that show the bus where to enter or exit the road if they are installed wrongly or are extremely short cause an accident, especially to drivers who are not used to that road. Unsatisfactory grading of highways causes water pools in the middle of the road. When buses pass over these pools, they can cause hydroplaning. The water also lessens the friction between the tires and the ground, causing the bus to lose control. Unsafe roads expose vehicles to road accidents.
Bad Designs on the Road
Road designs can also contribute to a bus accident. For instance, roads with sudden sharp corners can lead to vehicles colliding. Merging lanes can also contribute to bus accidents. If you have been injured in a merging accident, you can sue the government organization responsible for the design, and you can be compensated.
Some passengers also cause bus accidents. Noisy passengers, those who refuse to follow instructions, passengers who keep destroying the driver and other passengers are likely to cause an accident. If a passenger keeps talking or yelling at the driver, the driver will have divided attention and may end up losing focus on the road and causing a collision. The driver has the right to ask any problematic passenger to alight and even report him/her to the authorities. In this kind of accident, the troublesome passenger can be sued since he/she is the responsible party.
Prevailing Weather Conditions
Bad weather conditions such as heavy downpour, snow, or strong winds can make the roads slippery or cause poor visibility. When the driver cannot see ahead, he may collide with other vehicles or lose control. With the bus's heavyweights, it can be hard for them to move in the icy roads. Bus drivers are advised to drive carefully during such conditions or avoid driving at all.
Left turns cause most bus accidents. When a bus driver attempts to make a left turn, they often experience a blind spot, making it hard for them to see other oncoming vehicles. Due to the different vehicle arrangements, left turns often cause complex accidents. Some huge busses use several lanes when turning and block other cars in those lanes. Due to the obstructed view, there are some blind spots for the driver. At times, the bus driver may underestimate the oncoming vehicle's speed or the time he/she will take to make the turn. Due to the rate to divert and the turning angle, pedestrians can be injured. Other bus drivers forget to indicate that they are making a turn, which exposes oncoming vehicles and those behind him.
In most accidents that are due to left turns, the bus driver is always at fault. However, there are exceptional cases like:
- In case the bus driver turns left where there is a green arrow pointing to the left direction.
- In case the other driver was in a rush and did not give the bus driver enough time to complete turning.
- The bus driver started turning while obeying all rules but unavoidable circumstances such as engine failure caused a collision. In these cases, the fault is pointed to either the engine manufacturer or any third party involved.
Left turns to cause severe injuries to the passengers because it mainly targets the sides where there is no protective hindrance. The effect always affects the driver and passengers because there are no airbags, resulting in severe damages. All drivers must observe the set of road regulations to avoid accidents.
Another Driver's Negligence
If another driver is driving negligently, he/she can also cause a bus accident. If another driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she is likely to hit another bus or cause an accident. Drivers who fail to obey the traffic rules can also cause accidents. No matter how careful the bus driver is, it does not guarantee that he will not be involved in an accident; other motorists can contribute to the accident.
In rare instances, faulty wiring, bus tires, and the engine can start burning. Engines play a crucial role in the bus and passengers' safety and operation, making them very sensitive. If the bus travels for long hours and has a poorly maintained engine, the heat will likely build up and put the whole bus on fire. Old engines require high maintenance, especially those leaking oil.
In most cases, bus fires caused by mismanagement of the engine occur in buses that use gasoline. Under-inflated wheels can also be a source of a bus fire. As it moves, the heat builds up, causing the fire. It is hard to know if the bus wheels are underinflated with radial wheels because they always keep their shape; with these wheels, a fire can start without anyone suspecting. However, wheels that are commonly known to start bus fires are for dual rear axle buses. Another cause of bus fires is defective wiring. When a bus moves for long, the wires may be exposed, causing short circuits. Due to the small amount of current from the combustion of fuel in the bus, the short circuits can fire. When rubber pipes, plastics, and combustible solids catch fire, they cause a fatal explosion.
Bus fires are hazardous because not all passengers can escape. Noticing a bus is on fire can cause panic for both the driver and the passengers. In most cases, the driver gets confused and cannot take control, and the passengers could also try to jump from a moving bus, leading to more damage. They may again try to escape to one side, making the bus heavy on one side, making it hard for the driver to drive and end up causing a fatal accident.
Failing to Take Time Off
Every commercial vehicle driver is entitled to take time off their busy work schedule. They are supposed to note down the hours they work and take breaks between their working shifts. Bus drivers are given guidelines of the hours they are supposed to be on the road and the breaks they are supposed to take. Some employers force their workers to breach these rules and work extra hours. Especially when they do not have enough drivers in their company, they allure them with the extra money they will earn. As a result, the driver becomes mentally and physically exhausted, which, as discussed above, is a significant cause of bus accidents. In case of a bus accident, lawyers will always check the log of working hours and see if the diver was working overtime.
Poorly Trained Driver
Nobody would allow a six-year-old to drive a car. He/she lacks experience, and the vehicle is massive, and as a result, nothing can go right. The same case applies to an inexperienced bus driver who has no experience and lacks proper training. They are likely to cause fatal bus accidents. The following are things that are likely to happen when a poorly trained driver gets on the road:
- Driving off the road
- Drowsy driving
- Improper braking which can cause jackknifing
- Changing lanes too fast
- They may over-speeding even on poor road conditions.
- They may fail to stop in time.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a poorly trained driver, you should sue both the driver and the bus company. Contact The Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, and we will help you get the compensation you deserve. Bus companies should also conduct a thorough interview before hiring drivers to ensure they hire experienced and competent drivers.
Seeking Compensation for Bus Accident Injuries
In case a bus is involved in an accident, several parties could be at fault and could be liable for your injuries. All facts should be put in place with legal authority to determine the party at fault. These are some of the entities who could be at fault:
- The bus company in charge of operating its felt motorists and o[actions to enhance safety.
- You can sue the bus manufacturer for selling defective accessories, putting people's lives at risk.
- The bus maintenance provider responsible for servicing and ensuring everything is in good shape to overlook the bus services and threaten people's lives.
- You can also sue a negligent bus driver for failing to protect the passengers by allowing the accident to occur.
Government agency that designs and maintains the roads for negligence in maintenance and low building. If you or your loved one is injured in a bus accident, they are entitled to compensation for these damages:
- You should be compensated for health care costs for current and future hospital expenses.
- Loss of income following the accident
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering for the injured party and other parties of interest
- Loss of the ability to earn money could be because of partial or total disability, making you unable to work or force you to shift to a low paying job.
- At the time, you may also be compensated for Disciplinary damages as a way of "scaring" the party at fault from acting negligently in the future.
- Wrongful death.
If the party at fault is a private party, you will file an injury claim as though you were involved in a two-vehicle accident. In this case, you would file a third-party claim for the insured of the faulty driver. However, most buses are managed by government agencies. If the defective party is a government employee or agency, the claim becomes a little complicated because government employees and agencies enjoy monarch immunity. Which means they are protected from claims and lawsuits. If you are injured on a public bus, you must get a personal injury attorney who has vast experience dealing with bus accidents to help you file a notice of claim. This notice claim should include:
- Your personal and identification details.
- The reasonable amount of all damages backed up by records like the medical reports.
- The claim should also include an accurate description of the accidents and the circumstances around it.
- It should also include a well-written intention to claim compensation for damages caused by the government organization's negligence.
You also need to prove the direct casualty of the accident to the injuries. You can get this evidence from the police records, details of the accident scene, and testimonies from witnesses. Above all, you need to provide medical receipts, doctor's notes, and proof that you lost your income due to the accident's injuries must be mentioned to win this claim. We have helped clients win similar cases before, and we can help you too.
Find a Los Angeles Bus Accident Attorney Near Me
If you or your loved ones have been injured in a public vehicle, you need a skilled and experienced attorney to represent you and to help you file a claim against the government. Our dedicated team of attorneys at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney will work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. We have handled hundreds of similar cases before, and we understand California laws on personal injury. That is why you can count on us to help you win your claim. We are available 24/7, and our consultation is free. Reach out to us at 424-237-3600 and let us take care of your case.