What Should I Do After A Bus Accident?
VTA and other buses are an efficient and economical way to get around here in San José and other Northern and Central California locations. It's convenient to travel by bus. Unfortunately, being involved in a bus accident can cause serious injuries and even death. After a bus accident, the bus company's insurance company will fight hard to deny your claim or make a low offer to get rid of you. Contact me before you do anything besides: call 911 and seek medical care.
What Is A Bus?
Buses are common carriers that transport people or goods for a fee, so specific federal and state rules apply to them.
What Is A “Common Carrier” And Why Is It Important To Know?
The law regarding buses says that common carriers must carry passengers and goods safely and use “the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person.” This means buses have to be even more careful than regular motorists.
What Are Some Types Of Buses?
- City and county buses, like VTA
- Commercial buses
- Double-decker buses
- Feeder buses
- Federal and state buses
- Limo buses
- Long-distance buses, like Greyhound
- School buses
- Tour buses
Why Are Bus Accidents So Dangerous?
The sheer weight of a bus can be deadly when a bus crashes into anything or anyone. Before any passengers get on board, a typical city bus weighs around 35,000 pounds! By comparison, a typical car only weighs around 3,000 pounds. Buses are heavy, with slow braking times, have limited visibility, are difficult to maneuver and steer, and often lack seatbelts. These characteristics can lead to deadly bus accident results to those inside or outside of the crashing bus.
Because most buses don't have seatbelts, and people sometimes stand up while the bus is moving, a bus passenger's body can go flying or get tossed around the bus when it crashes, causing serious injuries. Even getting on (boarding) or off (alighting) a bus can be serious in high traffic areas where others might not pay close enough attention to the person getting on or off the bus.
Buses that hit cars, and rideshares, can cause severe injuries. When a heavy bus crashes into a bicyclist, moped, motorcyclist, scooter, or pedestrian, they usually don't stand a chance because of the sheer force of the bus against these unprotected people. Catastrophic injures and death can result.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Illegal lane changes
- Reckless driving
- Running stop signs
- Running traffic lights
- Sudden braking
What Kinds Of Injuries Are Caused By Bus Accidents?
Disfigurement or scarring
Infection after an accident
Internal injuries (organ damage)
Loss of a limb
Senses: loss of smell or taste
Who Can Be Sued After A Bus Accident?
People and entities can be sued after a bus accident. Besides the actual bus driver, here are more examples of people and entities that can be found negligent. Being negligent can mean that the person or entity is liable for the accident:
Bus company: Bus company owners can be liable for their bus drivers because their bus drivers must be properly trained and certified before they're allowed to drive a bus. If employers fail to train and supervise their bus drivers, they can be held liable for accident-related injuries. A bus company must also continuously train and supervise their drivers. Failing to do these things is negligent.
Bus manufacturers: Bus designers, manufacturers, and sellers have to make sure that all buses they design, manufacture or sell are safe. If a bus fails or is defective, and that failure or defect causes a bus accident, these people and entities can be found negligent.
Government: If the government designs, owns, operates, or inadequately maintains the bus, they can be found negligent. If you want to make a claim against the government, there is very little time to do so. For example, did you know that to make a claim against Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), you only have 6 months to do so? Special requirements must also be met. The VTA claim form looks pretty simple, but it has to be completed and filed correctly, completely and on time, or rights may be lost forever.
Maintenance company: If there was a mechanical issue caused by failing to maintain the bus correctly, and it caused an accident, the bus maintenance company can be held liable.
Non-owner operator of the bus: If the person driving the bus was an independent contractor, they can be sued for negligently operating the bus for the owner of the bus.
Non-profit: A non-profit owner or operator of the bus can also be held liable for their own negligence.
Other vehicles involved in the accident: Other drivers can be part or all of the cause of a bus accident if they don't drive with “due care”. These drivers can also be found negligent and held legally responsible for your injuries.
How Long Do I Have to Make A Bus Injury Case?
In California, you have two years to file a lawsuit if you are suing a privately owned company and/or a private driver. The clock starts to run on the date of the accident. The clock expires two years later. But, if you want to sue a public entity (like the city or county) or their employee, the deadline to file a governmental claim is only six short months. Other limits apply, such as when a minor gets hurt in the accident. Statutes of limitations are complicated, and if you make a mistake, you can lose your case forever. That's why I recommend that you contact a good attorney who handles bus accident claims immediately after the bus accident.
What Should I Do Right After A Bus Accident?
For starters, follow these guidelines: What Must I Do After A Car Accident? But, also do these things:
- Get the bus driver's employee number.
- Make sure that your name is listed on the log of passengers in the bus. The driver should also log everyone's name.
- When the police arrive, they should write down all the passengers' names and identifying information.
- Ask the bus driver to show you where the video cameras inside the bus are located. These can record the inside and the outside of the bus.
- Take pictures of those video cameras and note where they are located. Look for video cameras yourself; take pictures and note their locations.
Do I Need A Lawyer For My Bus Accident?
If you were injured or your loved one passed away in a bus accident, I urge you to hire a good attorney right from the start. I will work to hold the wrongdoers responsible. Please contact me at (408) 214-5555 or fill out the below form, for a free consultation. Thank you.