As the use of public transportation steadily grows, people are relying more on buses to get them to and from their destinations. School buses, city buses, and charters are the most frequently utilized buses. They provide potential alternatives to private vehicles, but they also carry the risk for severe injuries in the case of an accident. Due to the size and weight of a bus, as well as its lack of maneuverability, bus drivers have an extra responsibility to make sure passengers get to their destination safely. Unfortunately, the reality is not all bus drivers operate these vehicles with the level of caution and reasonable care necessary to accomplish even that modest goal.
Drivers who operate buses and other public transportation vehicles must adhere to specific guidelines, as well as hold a specialized license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes a number of guidelines, such as the number of hours a driver can work and the maximum passengers allowed inside a vehicle, among other regulations. If a driver or a company neglects to abide by these guidelines, they could be held liable for any injuries to passengers or other drivers as a result of an accident.
The general condition of a bus can have an impact on how severe an incident might be. For example, the majority of buses do not have seatbelts, greatly increasing the risk of potential injuries in the case of a collision. According to NHTSA, smaller school buses with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less must be equipped with lap or lap/shoulder belts at all designated seating positions. Larger buses, however, are not required to have seatbelts as they are heavier and distribute the force of a crash differently than passenger cars and trucks. Other factors can also increase the risk of injury, such as a bus carrying a heavy load onboard, carrying too many passengers, or improperly maintaining safety equipment, such as non-functioning emergency exit doors.
Bus Driver Negligence
In addition to the bus itself, the driver can also cause an accident as well. Many companies do not perform adequate background checks and hire individuals with poor driving records. They also do not invest in their drivers, failing to provide them proper training. Additionally, they force them to work longer hours than mandated by law, leading to fatigue. Drowsy driving is dangerous because sleep deprivation can often have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. Drivers generally not following rules of the road, such as speeding, ignoring traffic signs, texting or using a phone while driving, or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can also cause and/or contribute to a bus accident. Both the company and the individual driver can potentially be held accountable if negligent actions occur, causing and accident.
School bus accidents are one type of bus accident that is particularly harrowing. Though a bus is often the safest way for children to travel to and from school, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found an average of 131 fatalities per year occur as the result of crashes involving school transportation. School buses generally move at slower speeds than other vehicles on the road and make frequent stops along their routes to and from school. These buses are large, imposing vehicles that pose a threat to others on the road as well as to their precious young passengers. Unfortunately, other negligent drivers cause many of the accidents involving school buses. When other vehicles illegally pass a school bus dropping off or picking up passengers, lives are endangered. By disregarding the law, negligent drivers put children at risk of being struck by a vehicle and getting severely injured or even dying as a result of the impact.
No matter what causes the accident or what kind of bus was involved, due to the heavy weight of a bus, a collision can easily cause serious damage, especially if the bus overturns. Passengers can be thrown from their seats and can even be thrown from the vehicle in a severe accident. The victims of these accidents can include the bus occupants and the bus driver, as well as the occupants and drivers of any other vehicles on the road they come in contact with. Injuries incurred due to bus accidents can run the gamut, from minor cuts and scrapes to broken spines and paralysis, or even death. If a crash was caused by the negligence of the bus driver or the company that owns the bus, those injured in the collision may be able to seek compensation for their injuries. Costs associated with the collision can include medical bills and ongoing medical treatment, such as rehabilitation for severe injuries. Insurance companies may scramble to offer settlements to victims of a bus accident, but it is important to ensure any amount your accept truly covers the costs of all damages caused by the accident.
Experienced Texas Bus Accident Attorneys
Seeking compensation after a bus accident can be a daunting task, but the experienced Houston personal injury attorneys at Adame Garza LLP have fought and won on behalf of hundreds of victims injured in car crashes across Texas. We can guide you through every step of the process and put your mind at ease so that you can focus on recovering. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation regarding your unique situation.