Hold Bus Drivers And Transportation Companies Accountable For Accident Injuries
Whenever you board a New York City or private transit bus, take a Greyhound across the country or put your child onto a school bus, you are entrusting the bus driver and the bus company among a host of other entities with keeping you and your loved ones safe. Part of this trust comes from an expectation that the bus driver has received the proper training necessary for the effective care and maintenance of the vehicle as well as for the maximization of passenger safety.
Unfortunately, statistics provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prove this trust to be unfounded, as there were 485 buses involved in crashes in New York state, which resulted in 16 fatalities and 681 injuries to bus passengers, other motorists and pedestrians. In 2018, there were 262 fatalities involving bus accidents in the United States based upon National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident and suffered injuries or someone close to you has died in this type of accident, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., at 212-689-5000 for a free initial consultation regarding your legal rights in order to obtain full and fair compensation and damages due to your harms and losses.
Bus Classification And Law
According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, a bus is defined as a motor vehicle with a minimum carrying capacity of 10 passengers. Included in this definition are municipal transit buses, church buses, large vans used for public transport, school buses, interstate carriers, trolleys and most airport shuttles. Since these vehicles are all considered to be “common carriers,” the law states that they are all subject to both federal and state licensing requirements and corresponding regulations. However, liability for injuries suffered in a bus crash is determined only by state law.
A bus company owes its passengers a duty to use reasonable care in operating its bus for their safety. Reasonable care means that care which a reasonably prudent bus company would use under the same circumstances, in keeping with the dangers and risks known to the bus company or which it should reasonably have foreseen.
Therefore, in addition to being responsible for the actions of its driver on the roadway, a bus company as a common carrier also has a duty not to expose a passenger to other dangers as well. This could also include owing a duty to protect a passenger against injury caused by the conduct of a third person if the injury caused by a third person was attributable to the defendant bus company’s failure to exercise reasonable care in protecting the plaintiff from injury. In this type of case, you would have to prove that the bus company was on notice of disorderly conduct of an attacker who assaults another passenger. Of course, there is also a duty on the part of a bus company to maintain its vehicles and equipment for the safety of its passengers.
When operating a bus, drivers must also use reasonable care in order to avoid sudden, unusual or violent jerks, lurches or stops. This is not to say that every stop or movement gives rise to liability. If the movement or stop was unnecessarily sudden, unusual or violent, or it resulted from an emergency created or contributed to by the bus company’s own conduct, then the bus company will be responsible under the law.
Clearly, there are a number of facts, circumstances and other variables that come into play in order to determine what the necessary proof will be in any lawsuit involving a bus accident case. Therefore, it is advisable to call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., in order to get an opinion regarding the merits of any type of bus accident case.
Bus Accident Causes
There are a plethora of causes for bus accidents. Simply due to the massive size of buses compared to other motor vehicles, there is an inherent danger if you are a passenger because the top-heaviness of the bus may cause it to flip over, and if you are a pedestrian or another motorist, any form of contact with the bus may cause severe injuries and damages. Bus companies do not generate profits unless their buses are on the road, and a lack of inspections on and maintenance of those vehicles creates a dangerous and potentially catastrophic situation for bus passengers and other motorists. These companies many times hire unqualified drivers whose negligent actions (or inactions) result in accidents as well. Improper implementation of bus safety procedures, especially in the case of school buses, is also a cause of injuries when children do not use the safety restraints required by school district policy.
The National Transportation Safety Board names these to be the most common causes of bus accidents:
- Bus driver negligence, criminal behavior and fatigue
- Bus overload (overcapacity)
- Insufficient bus driver training
- Improper bus maintenance
- Hazardous road conditions
- Illegal, faulty or missing safety equipment
- Foreign-made buses that fail to meet USA bus construction mandates
Bus Accident Injuries Can Be Serious And Life-Altering
The momentum that a bus accumulates, especially at dangerous speeds, coupled with a lack of restraints in the case of public transportation, makes it very easy for a bus passenger to suffer severe injuries in the event of a bus accident. Some of the most common injuries that result include:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Head/brain injuries (traumatic brain injuries)
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Neck injuries (whiplash)
- Herniated disks in the back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine)
- Eye injuries (from broken glass)
- Torn tendons and ligaments
- Facial and/or dental trauma
In order to receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries, you will need the help of competent attorneys like those at the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., who are equipped with the necessary knowledge, experience and resources, and the willingness to expend all necessary expenses to best evaluate and pursue your claim. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal bus accident, a proven law firm becomes even more important. Learn more about how a wrongful death lawsuit may bring you justice and relief.
How To Pay For Medical Expenses And Lost Wages After A Bus Accident
There have been laws enacted in the State of New York, commonly referred to as No-Fault laws, that provide first-party benefits for the bus accident victims which allow for coverage related to their medical, remedial and certain health care expenses, including lost earnings as defined by the State of New York insurance law. This coverage is known as “basic economic loss” and is available for up to $50,000.00 per person. These first-party benefits are designed to promptly pay medical bills, lost wages and other reasonable expenses that start to accumulate shortly after a motor vehicle accident. This first-party coverage is separate and distinct from your right or ability to start a separate lawsuit for any pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment due to debilitating, serious injuries that are commonly known as “noneconomic loss.”
Section 5103(1) Of The New York Insurance Law Provides The Following About Buses:
In the case of occupants of a bus, other than operators, owners, and employees of the owner or operator of the bus, the coverage for first-party benefits shall be afforded under the policy or policies, if any, providing first-party benefits to the injured person and members of his household for loss arising out of the use or operation of any motor vehicle of such household. In the event there is no such policy, first-party benefits shall be provided by the insurer of such bus.
In other words, bus accident No-Fault coverage is available if you were injured as a result of being a passenger on a bus involved in an accident and either you or someone in your household has No-Fault coverage through insurance on a vehicle that exists in your household. This automobile insurance available in your household becomes responsible for your first-party benefits. However, if neither you nor anyone in your household has No-Fault coverage because there is no vehicle in the household, then the insurance company of the bus becomes responsible for your first-party benefits.
The purpose of No-Fault coverage is to provide victims with monies to cover medical costs, lost wages and other reasonable expenses shortly after the accident. However, these benefits have nothing to do with recovering compensation for victims’ pain and suffering as a result of their injuries suffered in the bus accident. The compensation for pain and suffering is obtained as a result of a claim and/or lawsuit that is made against all the responsible parties.
Learn more about No-Fault benefits and how they may relate to your bus accident case.
We offer free consultations to help you explore your options, and we do not charge any fees until and unless we secure compensation for your injuries. Schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys today by calling 212-689-5000, or contact us online to get started.