With the use of public transportation on the rise, especially in metropolitan areas, it only stands to reason that bus accidents are also on the rise. Buses are one of the most widely used modes of public transportation because of affordability and convenience. In fact, nearly every adult can recall riding the big yellow school bus as a child. Unfortunately, buses are not one of the safest mode of transportation and our law firm routinely hears new reports of bus accidents that have left passengers injured or even killed.
In an industry with a high turnover rate, it can be difficult to keep a dependable bus driver. The last thing a passenger should have to consider when getting on that bus is whether or not they will be safe. There is a reasonable assumption of safety, but our accident lawyers have encountered many cases where that reasonable assumption turns to crisis when there is a serious accident and people sustain injuries because of negligence. The Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka, P.C., has been helping the victims of bus accident injuries recover the financial compensation they are entitled to for over 30 years.
Bus Accident Liability
As soon as a bus accident occurs, there are likely several investigations. There may be internal company investigations, insurance investigations, and investigations by police and traffic safety boards. The circumstances of the accident will usually determine how many investigations there are and who conducts them. Different laws and regulations will apply to different buses and their drivers. For instance, the laws and regulations that govern commercial interstate carriers, such as Greyhound, will not be the same laws that regulate governmental entities like METRO buses. School and private buses must adhere to yet another set of regulations, making matters rather confusing for accident victims. Determining liability in the case of a bus accident can be tricky. It is important that you have a Houston personal injury attorney with experience and understanding of the different laws that govern these entities.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Some laws limit liability in the event of an accident, other laws regulate mandatory drug testing and other factors to help prevent accidents. The FMCSA imposes regulations on commercial interstate carriers to help ensure that both the vehicle and the driver are safe and competent. Some federal safety regulations include the following:
- Mandatory drug testing for all drivers;
- Commercial driver’s license and training requirements;
- Annual physical exams for drivers;
- Limitations on the total daily hours of driving; and
- Regular safety and repair of the bus and equipment.
Most bus companies also have their own policies and procedures in place to promote safety and limit liability. All policies and procedures must be followed, including their own. This is just one area that our law firm will address when investigating your bus accident.
Bus Accident Injuries and Causes
Bus accidents can cause devastating injuries to everyone involved because of the size and weight of the bus. Since they carry so many people, it is not uncommon to see numerous injuries to the passengers. There are even cases where a victim suffers catastrophic injuries such as head trauma, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, broken bones, and more. Many of these injuries are life altering and will have devastating effects on the victims.
So what causes bus accidents? Of course, accidents can happen anywhere and in some cases, another driver may be at fault. In other cases, the driver may lose control after swerving to avoid a dog or other obstruction. There have even been incidents involving drunk driving, where the bus driver was intoxicated. Some accidents are truly accidental and no one individual can be blamed. But many accidents that are caused by either driver negligence or company negligence. Here is a breakdown of the most common causes:
- Distracted driving;
- Calling or texting while driving;
- Intoxication from alcohol, illicit drug or even a medication;
- Driver fatigue;
- Reckless driving; and
- Failure to adjust speed in hazardous conditions.
- Inadequate bus maintenance;
- Faulty equipment;
- Inadequate driver training;
- Inadequate inspections;
- Safety violations; and
- Failure to repair defective parts or equipment.
What to do after a bus accident
After a bus accident it is all too common for insurance adjusters to contact victims right away and attempt to get recorded statements. If you have been injured in a bus accident, and you have not yet spoken with an attorney, do not give a recorded statement. It is not in your best interest to do so. Here are some steps you can take to help preserve your rights after a bus accident.
- Of course, the first thing to do is to seek medical attention for your injuries. If you are able, take pictures of them. You want to make sure that they are well documented.
- Try to save your clothing from the day of the accident. It may provide some evidence so don’t throw it away.
- Do not give any recorded statement or sign anything at all. It is possible to reduce the amount of a possible claim by doing so.
- Write down anything you can remember, right down to the smallest detail. Keep a journal about the accident. Be sure to include and document any missed work due to the accident.
- Keep and organize any medical expense pertaining to the accident.
- Seek legal counsel as soon as you are able. The sooner an attorney can start investigating, the stronger your case will be.
How long do I have to file a claim?
The state of Texas imposes a strict two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Some injuries may not be apparent right away, but it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as you are aware of your injuries. If a loved one lost their life in a bus accident, you may have a wrongful death claim in which case it is still vital to seek legal counsel immediately.
What type of damages can I recover?
The type of damages that may be recovered will be determined by several factors. The circumstances of the accident, the severity of your injuries, and where the liability lies will help dictate the type of damages that may be recovered in a bus accident claim.
Can more than one person be liable for my accident?
Yes. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident claim, multiple people or entities may be held liable. The driver, the bus company and sometimes even the manufacturer or mechanic may be held liable in bus accidents.
Contact an experienced bus accident attorney today
In addition to handling bus-related claims, our firm’s personal injury lawyers handle other cases like truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, burns, dog bites, construction accidents and workplace accidents, amongst others.
The Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka, P.C. has the expertise in this specialized field to get your case resolved quickly and get you the financial compensation that you deserve. We diligently represent clients in Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a bus, level the playing field and contact the Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka, P.C. today. Call (713) 271-5760 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced, aggressive bus accident attorney.