The California tourism industry comes with many benefits, including increasing the state revenue and offering employment opportunities to the residents. The good thing is that the state has very many beautiful places that attract tourists, like Fisherman’s Wharf, Hollywood, Golden Gate Bridge, and Disneyland. Tourists depend on the state’s many tour bus companies to travel from one place to the other.
Unfortunately, tour bus accidents are prevalent in the state, too, just like other bus accidents. Many tourists and locals alike are affected. The good news is that California law has clear guidelines on how a person hurt in a tour bus crash can receive compensation for their damages. Contact us at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney for more details and legal help.
Overview of California Tour Bus Accidents
Tour buses offer great convenience to tourists who visit various exciting destinations in California. Tourists do not have to drive themselves; they can relax and enjoy the fantastic sceneries in the state while in luxurious tour buses. It is the only way you can have a clear view of the cities, make multiple stops, and enjoy the fantastic sights without having to worry about where you are driving. Tour bus companies do not disappoint. There are always enough buses for tourists. Tour buses are also designed for comfort and flexibility, with a highly skilled and experienced driver behind the wheel.
Some tourists visiting California come from very distant places and so would like to relax as much as they want to enjoy its beauty. Driving around the state every day is a tiring job. Again, they may not be familiar with the various areas they would like to visit. Tour buses are the way to go for them. You just say where you want to go, and the driver makes your dream come true. The sad reality is that there are two sides to California tourism: the good and the bad. The benefits are many, for the tourists, the state government, and the locals. But the central negative aspect of this is the risk of getting involved in a devastating accident.
Bus accidents are a common occurrence in California, and tour buses are not exceptional. Several factors contribute to the frequency of these accidents, some of which will be discussed below. When a tour bus accident happens, tourists aboard the bus are bound to become affected in one way or another. Some suffer physical injuries, and others lose their valuables. It is for this reason that California law includes tour bus accident laws. These laws are meant to guide tourists, drivers, and anyone else injured in a tour bus accident to seek compensation if they believe that the accident resulted from another person’s fault.
In California, tour buses are categorized under common carriers, as they carry people for pay. Thus, tour bus companies owe a duty of caution to people using their buses every day. Companies should ensure that their buses are well maintained, repaired in case of a mechanical issue, and do their best to avoid bringing harm to their customers. There is a set of rules and regulations that tour bus companies must adhere to at all times, including ensuring that they hire well-trained and experienced drivers to operate the buses.
Tour bus drivers must examine the buses before and after every trip. It helps them catch and fix any problem that could result in a devastating accident. Problems could be on the brakes, handrails, tires, and anything else contributing to the bus’s care. If a problem is detected, it should be dealt with immediately, before allowing tourists to board the bus.
Additionally, drivers must ensure that tour buses are always parked in designated areas. Tourists must be loaded and offloaded to and from the bus at designated points. These points must be safe for the passengers even after alighting from the bus.
On the other hand, tour bus companies should ensure that the buses are well-maintained at all times. They could have scheduled regular maintenance and repair for the buses and ensure that they meet the current safety standards. On top of that, tour companies should ensure that their drivers are regularly trained on safety precautions, traffic rules, and other measures. It might improve their safety and the safety of their customers.
Leading Causes of Catastrophic Tour Bus Accidents
Just like other vehicles, tour buses can cause all kinds of accidents, ranging from minor to devastating. A minor accident will not severely affect those involved, but a catastrophic accident can result in severe injuries, including fatal injuries. When a tour bus accident becomes catastrophic, the resulting damages are more severe than those experienced in an ordinary accident. It means that people will have suffered severe injuries, and more property would have been damaged in the accident. Some of the causes of catastrophic tour bus accidents in California include:
Failure by Road Users to Adhere to Traffic Rules
Traffic rules are there for every road user to follow. It is the only way there can be a peaceful and safe coexistence on our roads. Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to the set rules, hence increasing traffic accidents on our roads. Tour bus drivers are not left out of this, as some of them flaunt traffic rules every chance they get. It creates conflicts with other road users, including fellow motorists. The speed limits, yield signs, stop signs, and warning signs must be adhered to. If not, the resulting could be a devastating accident in which many suffer catastrophic injuries.
Note that adhering to traffic rules isn’t the responsibility of bus drivers alone. Other road users must obey traffic rules for everyone on the road to be safe. A severe accident could occur if, say, a biker rides carelessly on the road. Another motorist could be driving recklessly. That is why the cause of the accident will be determined before the determination of the at-fault party.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
Most common carriers are operated by drivers who work for long hours every day. Thus, it is not uncommon to find an exhausted and highly fatigued driver operating a tour bus company. Again, sometimes tour bus companies are forced to work on very tight schedules. It means that their buses will be on the move all the time, and so the driver will be on duty for more extended periods than they can handle. Drivers need breaks and lots of rest if they are going to operate tour buses safely. If they do not get adequate rest, they are not physically and mentally able to work, increasing their chance of getting involved in accidents.
Fatigue and exhaustion are two factors that affect a person’s brain and the ability to make fast decisions. Again, a tired driver can easily fall asleep while behind the wheel, which is an excellent risk for everybody on the road at that time.
Drunk or drugged driving is a problem that typically affects all states. It is not a problem for personal drivers alone but also for drivers operating common carriers. California has stringent rules against drunk driving. There are stiff penalties for bus drivers found guilty of driving with a BAC above 0.04%. An intoxicated bus driver will not focus properly on the road. He/she will not be quick to identify and avoid possible safety hazards on the road. The driver will also not respond on time to prevent a disaster. Most accidents that result from drunk driving are devastating, and the resulting injuries are catastrophic.
The law requires that bus companies operating as common carriers should keep their buses in great shape at all times. Tour bus companies should have a regular maintenance schedule for their vehicles. During this maintenance, mechanical issues should be spotted and repaired on the spot. Regular maintenance also helps avoid problems that could affect the buses while on the road, thereby reducing the bus’s possibility of getting into an accident. Routine maintenance costs the company money and time, two factors that most bus companies are unwilling to give up so easily.
A poorly-maintained tour bus is likely to cause a devastating accident, in which many people can suffer severe injuries. After the crash, the accident’s cause will be determined, and the tour bus company will be held responsible for the resulting damages.
Poor Road Conditions
A severe bus accident could also be caused by poor road or weather conditions. Several factors on our roads could affect how a bus is operated, for instance, dangerous potholes and wheel ruts or dangerous curves. Some of these conditions will pose a significant challenge even to a highly skilled bus driver. Some roads have missing guardrails, which makes them even more dangerous, especially in an accident. Other roads are not adequately marked, and the driver could bump into a construction zone and cause a severe accident without realizing it.
When this happens, the responsible party could be the government agency charged with ensuring that public roads are in perfect condition at all times.
If the bus was new at the time of the accident, there could be a chance that the problem might be in its design. Sometimes bus manufacturers release their vehicles into the market before they undergo proper testing and verification. Some buses get into the market when they are still not safe for use. Some of the design issues that could cause a bus to cause an accident include:
Issues in the structural design
Lack of seatbelts
Seats that are not correctly attached, hence causing passengers to suffer severe injuries even in a not-so-severe accident
If it is established that the problem was with the bus’ design, the manufacturer will be held responsible for the resulting damages.
Possible Catastrophic Injuries You Can Sustain in a Tour Bus Accident
A severe tour bus accident is likely to result in severe physical injuries for those affected and significant property damage. Among the types of injuries that a person can sustain in such an accident are catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury is a type of injury that has a direct and proximate consequence. It is the kind that prevents the victim from performing any kind of gainful work. It is a severe injury that will seriously affect the injured, leaving him/her with permanent damage. Most catastrophic injuries affect the human brain and spinal cord, and they can have both short-term and long-term impacts on the person’s functional capabilities.
As mentioned earlier, some tour bus accidents are minor, resulting in injuries that can easily be treated. However, some are devastating n will leave one or more people with a catastrophic injury. The most common catastrophic injuries that can result from a tour bus accident include:
The head is among the most affected body parts in any type of accident. Unfortunately, the head may not withstand any kind of blow as it is a sensitive organ. A severe blow to the head may even result in trauma to the brain, another catastrophic injury that will be discussed below. Other than the brain, head injuries could affect other organs, including the skull, scalp, and neck.
A severe head injury can either be closed or open, depending on the type of blow the head receives. Sometimes a foreign object could penetrate the skull, leading to an open injury. The common types of head injuries you could incur in a tour bus accident include:
Concussions that could bring headaches and concentration issues in the future
Cerebral edema or brain swelling
Brain hemorrhage that could kill brain cells
A severe head injury could manifest in symptoms like lightheadedness, ringing in the ears, headaches, mild confusion, and spinning sensation, among others. More severe symptoms could also occur if the injury is not treated on time. They could be loss of consciousness, coordination d balance, clear liquid oozing from ears and/or nose, memory loss, and seizures.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury occurs when there is damage to any part of a person’s spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal cord. An injury like this will cause a permanent change in the strength, sensation, and other body functions below the area where the injury occurred. A spinal cord injury is life-changing as it can take several months, and sometimes years before the injured recovers their lost sensation and functioning of the affected part of the body. Also, the person experiences the effects of the injury emotionally, mentally, and socially, not just physically.
The only chance the injured person has of living a quality life is through continuous medical treatment and rehabilitation. Otherwise, most people live dependent and less productive lives after the accident.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Trauma to the brain affects the normal functioning of the human brain; thereby, it is a life-changing injury. When a bus collides with a large truck or a bus rolls over, one or all its occupants will likely suffer severe injuries to the brain. Similarly, when a large bus collides with a smaller tour bus, occupants of the smaller bus may suffer severe injuries to their brains. Trauma to the brain is severe, such that some people may die within an hour of a severe accident.
Those who survive with such injuries have to live with long-term effects and sometimes on medication for a very long time. Traumatic brain injuries manifest in various ways, depending on the kind of accident the person has been involved in and its severity. Some of the telltale signs that you could have suffered trauma to your brain include:
Remaining unconscious for a long time
Too much sleep and sometimes Insomnia
It is vital to get immediate medical help after the accident, as this is where most of these injuries are diagnosed. Early diagnosis and intervention will prevent the patient’s condition from worsening.
If you or your loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in a tour bus accident, the first thing you need to do is to hire an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney will help you with a lot of things, among them, determining liability. Auto accidents are not always straightforward. You may think that you know who caused a particular accident but later realize that you were wrong all along. An experienced attorney will involve accident experts to determine the accident’s cause and, eventually, the responsible party.
In a case like this, there will be several parties that could be responsible for the accident. They are:
Tour bus driver
Tour bus company
The bus manufacturer
The government agency expected to maintain public roads
Each of these parties owes a duty of care to every road user. If the duty of care is breached, and an accident occurs, the responsible party will be held responsible for the resulting damages.
Filing a Lawsuit
Once the responsible party has been determined, your attorney can help you file a lawsuit against him/her in a civil court for compensation.
Sometimes the responsible party or his/her insurance company may be willing to settle the case out of court. When this happens, ensure that you are well informed about your rights and the acceptable amount of settlement in your case. Here, you need an attorney’s help to negotiate on your behalf and ensure that your interests are protected throughout. If the insurance company changes its mind, it will be time to file the case in court.
Several types of compensable damages could arise from a tour bus accident. You need to be aware of these, too, as you will be required to include them in your claim. They include:
They include all the monetary losses you have incurred after the accident. They could be in the form of medical bills and transportation costs you may have incurred after the accident. Remember that you may need more medical treatment in the future for your catastrophic injury. This, too, should be included in the claim.
Monetary losses will also include lost earnings and lost earning ability. Remember that you may not be able to engage in gainful employment in the future due to your injury’s nature. If that is the case, you need compensation to ensure that your needs and those of your dependents will be catered for.
They include all those other losses you may have incurred in the accident but do not have any monetary value. They may include:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium
Reduced quality of life
Non-economic damages are awarded not as a form of compensation for economic losses but to compensate for the reduced quality of life the person has suffered after the accident. A person that has suffered a catastrophic injury will have to live with its effects for some time or a long time. The money awarded for non-monetary damages will help them live a life closer to the one they lived before the accident.
In addition to monetary and non-monetary damages, the plaintiff may recover punitive damages from a California tour bus accident. A civil court may award punitive damages to punish the negligent party and as a warning to those who may exhibit the same behavior that could result in a catastrophic accident.
Find a Los Angeles Tour Bus Accident Attorney Near Me
No one anticipates an accident while touring, but the unthinkable happens, and sometimes a person is forced to live with its devastating results. A catastrophic injury can significantly transform your life. Recovering your damages could help you live a better life that is closer to the one you lived before the accident. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we help people who have suffered catastrophic injuries in tour bus accidents to recover their damages and gain closure from the accident. If you are in Los Angeles, call us at 424-237-3600. We have capable attorneys who could help determine the liable party and file a winning lawsuit in a civil court.