Many people use buses as part of their daily lives. Between commuting to work, sending children to school, driving behind them on the roads, and chartering sports teams to tournaments and competitions, buses are among the most commonly used modes of transportation in the United States. For the most part, buses are a safe, affordable, and eco-friendly mode of transportation, offering riders the option of arriving at their destination no matter their state of intoxication, stress, distractedness, or driving talent. However, buses do have the potential to be dangerous, and some rides can even be deadly. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities before you board a bus and be aware of how you may be able to seek justice if something should go wrong.
What Are the Numbers?
How likely is a bus crash? There are about 63,000 bus crashes yearly in the United States. This number may seem intimidating, but there are approximately 9 billion bus trips taken per year, which means that each time you board a bus, there is less than 1 percent chance that you will get into a bus accident. For comparison, approximately 6 million car crashes happen per year, showing that buses are generally less likely to experience crashes than cars. However, it is worth noting that buses do experience accidents with a certain degree of regularity, making them potential hazards to passengers on the bus and other drivers on the road.
Reasonable Safety Measures
Bus companies have a responsibility to keep passengers safe from harm when riding the bus. While some factors are simply beyond their control, there are ways that they can make reasonable accommodations so that riders stay as safe as possible. These safety measures include:
- Hiring bus drivers who are appropriately licensed and qualified.
- Keeping entries and exits clear and providing proper lighting.
- Maintaining buses and bus stops and keeping them up to code.
- Ensuring that bus drivers are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Ensuring that employees are well-rested.
- Enforcing bus capacity limits.
Unfortunately, these safety measures are not enough to prevent crashes from happening. Many bus accidents are due to inclement weather conditions and other drivers, neither of which are under the control of the bus companies.
What Happens If A Bus Crashes?
If you are in the unfortunate few involved in a bus crash, it is important to know what to do. Staying calm and having a plan of action can help to give you the best chance of survival and recovery and can help you to seek compensation if it is owed. If you are in a bus accident, whether you are inside the bus or in a car that has crashed with a bus, follow these steps:
- Call the authorities. If you can, call 911 right away. The sooner emergency responders get to the scene, the better the outcomes for everyone involved. However, if you have suffered an injury, it is vital to remain calm and still. If reaching your phone requires more than slight movements, it is best to let someone else call the authorities. Moving after you have sustained an injury could make things worse. Luckily, bus crashes are not subtle events, and someone will likely contact 911 soon after the accident.
- Get medical attention. Before you do anything else, you must seek medical attention. EMTs at the scene will assess if you are okay to walk and move around and can send you to a hospital if they think something serious is wrong with you. If you were a passenger on the bus, remember that bus companies carry liability and tragedy insurance for bus accidents. Since the accident was not your fault, it is unlikely that you should have to pay your own medical bills. Do not forgo medical attention because of the perceived cost. Your health is too important.
- Document the situation. If you are able, take pictures of the scene and your injuries. Get the names and contact information of witnesses and other riders. Write down everything you can think of about the crash, as it could be helpful information later, and you may forget details.
- Do not make statements or talk to anyone about your injuries. Keep all conversations to the basics of obtaining contact information. You do not want to inadvertently waive your right to compensation by having a casual conversation with the wrong person.
- Call your attorney. Contact an attorney as soon as you are able. The sooner you can start building your case, the sooner you will be able to get compensation for your suffering.
Who Is Liable After a Bus Crash?
Just like car accidents, bus accidents are not uniform. In some cases, the crash may be the result of the bus driver. In other cases, a pedestrian, car, or motorcyclist could have crossed paths with the bus and caused the accident. In other instances, the weather or road conditions could be hazardous, and the bus could crash into poles, walls, or barriers at the fault of no one in particular. For these reasons, it is difficult to say who may be liable for your injuries if you are in a bus crash. The best thing you can do is follow the above safety steps and take as many pictures and testimonies as possible. This will help your attorney plead your case and help the courts determine who was at fault and who should be financially responsible.
How Much of a Settlement Can I Get?
Many people want to know what kind of financial compensation they might receive if they are involved in a bus accident. Unfortunately, there is no set number or formula by which to calculate settlement costs. The amount of money you receive will be based upon the severity of your injuries and the reason for the accident. Your attorney will generally include your medical bills in your settlement amount and then an additional amount for pain and suffering. This sum will depend upon how severe your injuries are and how your life might change as a result of them. They may also opt to calculate pain and suffering based on the number of days between the accident and your full recovery. Your attorney will likely make these decisions with you and talk you through what you deserve based on what happened. Unfortunately, severe and permanent injuries receive higher settlements for pain and suffering, where injuries that heal properly and quickly do not warrant as much.
Can You Make a Claim for Anxiety After a Car Accident?
As part of your pain and suffering, you may also be able to claim newfound anxiety or emotional distress as part of your bus accident settlement. Emotional distress is a genuine consequence of traumatic events and can severely impact a person’s life. If you find that you have any of the following after your bus accident, you may be able to work it into your pain and suffering sum:
- Frustration or bitterness
The key to including these in your settlement is to persuade the insurance adjuster that these are new conditions that developed due to the accident.
How Can I Prove My Pain and Suffering?
The key to seeing a payout for your pain is proving that you have indeed suffered as a result of the bus accident. There are several ways to prove this to an insurance adjuster and the courts if the case ends up there. Medical records, expert testimonies, pictures of the injuries, X-rays, and medical bills are wonderful ways to prove physical pain and suffering. When it comes to psychiatric or emotional pain and suffering, the proof is a bit more abstract but still provable. You will likely need psychiatric records, therapist or psychiatrist testimony, and concrete accounts of how your mental health has deteriorated since the accident. For example, saying that you can no longer sleep through the night is a real-life, concrete example of how anxiety has affected you.
How Can I Avoid Bus Accidents As a Passenger?
As a bus passenger, it is easy to feel helpless when it comes to preventing accidents. While accidents are rarely the fault of the bus passengers, there are some simple safety steps you can take to help avoid crashes and keep yourself safe in the event of an accident.
- Do not distract the driver. This includes talking directly to them, playing loud music, talking loudly on the phone or to other passengers, or creating any disturbance on the bus. If you ride the bus, bring headphones if you want to listen to music, and keep your conversations to normal or hushed tones.
- Stay behind the line. Most buses have a line near the front indicating how far forward passengers are allowed to be while the bus is moving. Ensure that you are behind the line at all times when the bus is in motion, especially when preparing to disembark.
- Do not get on a crowded bus. If a bus is packed with people, it is safer to opt to wait for the next bus to come than it is to squeeze yourself inside. It may be tempting to try to get to your destination sooner, but heavy capacities mean more starts and stops, less visibility for the driver, and more opportunities for accidents.
- Do not run for the bus. Missing the bus is not fun, but it is extremely dangerous to run alongside a bus that has already begun to move in an attempt to get it to let you on. The safest and smartest option is to cut your losses and wait for the next one.
Of course, even if you follow all of these rules, accidents still happen. However, these tips help you avoid liability if you are a passenger on a bus that crashes.
How Can I Avoid Bus Accidents As a Car Driver?
Lots of bus accidents occur between a bus and a car. In many of these situations, far more damage is sustained to the car than to the bus. Of course, it is not always the car driver’s fault when these crashes occur, but by driving safely around buses, you can reduce your risk of colliding with one. Here are some tips on sharing the road with buses:
- Never turn right in front of a bus. Sometimes bus stops are positioned right before an intersection, and drivers can be tempted to pull in front of the bus to make a right. This is a recipe for disaster. If the bus driver does not see you, a crash can easily occur. Because this maneuver is illegal, you would be liable for the accident. It is best to wait behind the bus and make your right turn once the bus has pulled away.
- Avoid their blind spots. Buses are large and therefore have a significant blind spot. Though mirrors try to combat this, the best thing you can do as a driver on the road is to avoid driving for any length of time in the bus’s blind spot. Stay diagonally behind the bus, or pull forward ahead of the bus instead.
- Do not cut them off. When changing lanes in front of a bus, make sure to give the driver ample room behind your car. Buses need significantly more stopping room than cars do, and cutting off a bus could result in you getting rear-ended.
Driving safely around buses is the best way you can avoid a collision. Remember, if you drive recklessly and cause a bus accident and anyone gets hurt or dies, you will be liable.
Contact Kreeger Law Firm
If you have been in an accident involving a bus, you have no time to waste getting an attorney. Christopher Kreeger has been working in personal injury law for many years and knows how to get the maximum settlement for bus accidents. With a reputation in the law community for his focus and dedication, there is no one better to represent you in your time of need than Kreeger Law Firm. Contact us today to begin your case.