Many people in Los Angeles and around the country use a bus to go from one place to another, whether it’s for work or leisure. As a group, these individuals trust the bus company and other forms of public transportation to deliver them safely to their destination. However, there are times when a negligent driver or company fails to keep that promise, causing significant injury to riders, pedestrians, cyclists or other motorists.
Let’s take a look at the frequency of bus accidents, how they happen and the types of injuries that commonly result. We’ll also take a look at who is at fault in a bus accident.
Bus Accident Statistics
While bus accidents do not reach the number involving passenger vehicles, when they do happen, they cause significant injury and death. This is true of tour bus vehicles that are privately owned and those involved in local public transport. Usually, the latter is under the auspices of the city or state who are charged with overseeing the buses.
Bus accident victims include not just bus passengers but pedestrians and others in the flow of traffic. On occasion, people waiting at a bus stop are hit as a driver strikes them. The total number of urban bus accidents, as well as tour bus accidents, has grown in terms of frequency and severity. Some reasons this happens are due to the congestion in cities and bus driver fatigue as they try to keep up with a demanding schedule. If the company causes this by insisting the driver meet an unrealistic timeline, it will probably be named in the lawsuit alongside the driver.
Types of Bus Accidents
The victims of a bus accident include the following:
- Collisions with pedestrians: Due to the foot traffic in most cities, buses trying to navigate the streets can inflict severe injuries on a pedestrian.
- Accidents inflicting wrongful death: Given the large size of a bus compared to a passenger vehicle or an individual walking or riding a bicycle, it is not hard to imagine that wrongful deaths occur.
- Public bus accidents: This is one of the major reasons for bus accidents. High population density can lead to more bus accidents in urban areas.
- Tour bus accidents: These vehicles usually travel on high-speed roads. Given the weight of the vehicle, accidents can cause many severe injuries and deaths to passengers on the bus and those in other motor vehicles.
- Fatigued bus drivers: Drivers are often made to work long hours without resting. While this happens with public transportation, it is more common on tour buses.
- Drunk or impaired drivers: Although some drivers drink and drive, even more, are using illegal or prescription/OTC medications. Such substances can have deleterious effects and cause accidents to happen.
- Shuttle Bus Accidents: This form of transportation carries passengers to airports, doctor visits and are essential for senior transport. However, accidents occur and usually involve passengers on the bus.
- Mechanical failure: Bus companies may shirk their responsibility to maintain their buses. This can result in low brake fluid, worn tires or other issues involved in running the vehicle. The owner of the bus is usually liable in such cases.
- Defective bus parts: Whether it’s a defective tire or brake or other part, defects are the fault of the manufacturer. In such cases, an injured party can file a claim against the manufacturer. Since California operates under the umbrella of strict liability, it is not necessary to prove negligence. Instead, it must be shown that the defective part caused the accident, and injuries are a result of the accident.
Most Common Bus Accident Injuries
Bus accident injuries range from moderate to severe. Some of the most common are:
- Traumatic brain injury: Such injuries range from a concussion to collections of blood on or in the brain. This accumulation of blood can put pressure on the brain and must be removed surgically. Some TBIs can cause lifelong disability.
- Fractures: In this category, the injury can either be a simple fracture that responds to the casting of the broken bone or one that may require surgery and extensive rehabilitation therapy. The latter can be seen in pelvic or femur fractures.
- Chest trauma: Injury to the chest can harm the heart, lungs and ribs. This can be a life-threatening injury and requires immediate medical and surgical intervention.
- Abdominal trauma: Injury to the abdomen can cause bleeding of the spleen, stomach, liver and pancreas. Also, the intestines can rupture, spilling their contents into the abdominal cavity. Without immediate treatment, the individual can die.
- Spinal cord injury: Being struck by a bus can inflict spinal cord injury with resulting paralysis. Since the use of seat belts is not mandatory, passengers can be thrown around and suffer injuries to the spine.
- Burns: Some bus crashes can result in burn injuries. Depending on the depth of the burn, victims may require graft surgery and long periods of healing.
Who Is Liable in a Bus Accident?
The responsible parties in a bus accident may include:
- Bus drivers: A negligent bus driver can be held liable if someone is injured.
- Mechanic: Sometimes, bus companies hire outside mechanics to do maintenance work. If the accident is due to mechanical problems, the mechanic can be involved in a lawsuit. If the mechanical upkeep was done in house, then the bus company can be held liable.
- Government agency: If road conditions cause a bus accident or if the city or state owns the bus, the government agency in charge can be held liable. Filing a claim against a government entity has a different time limit than other personal injury claims. Your attorney will make sure that everything is filed on time to avoid problems having your case heard.
- Bus company: The bus company is in charge of hiring qualified drivers with good driving histories, training drivers and overseeing their work. If an accident happens due to the driver’s negligence, the company that owns it may be held liable. Bus companies are also responsible for maintaining a safe vehicle.
- Manufacturer: If the design or production of the bus or its parts causes the accident, a claim can be made against the manufacturer. It is important to remember that under strict liability, it is unnecessary to prove negligence in California.
- Other motor vehicle drivers: If it can be proven that another driver caused the bus to crash, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the driver.
- Tour bus companies: If a tour operator organized a trip that used a tour bus, they can be included in a claim, along with the tour bus owner, for the accident.