California is notorious for its traffic, so many residents choose to use public transportation rather than fight for parking and deal with gridlock. While buses are convenient and more environmentally friendly, they can also pose more dangers to pedestrians and passengers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as many as 11,000 injury-causing bus accidents occur every year, with around 24,000 injury victims. If you or a loved one have been involved in a collision involving a bus, it is vital that you contact an experienced Fresno personal injury attorney who can help you obtain compensation for your losses.
Like any collision involving an automobile, there are a variety of causes that can contribute to a bus accident, including:
- Bus driver fatigue;
- Excessive speed;
- Poor vehicle maintenance;
- Distracted driving;
- Driving under the influence;
- Hazardous road conditions;
- Lack of training; and
- Poor visibility or weather conditions.
Common Injuries in Fresno, CA
Bus injuries are often extremely serious due to the size of the vehicle, the likelihood of flipping, the number of passengers, and the non-existence of seat belts. Some of the most common injuries sustained in bus accidents include:
- Broken bones;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Dislocations; and
- Abrasions and contusions.
While some of these injuries can be healed with proper medical attention, others can have lifelong consequences that require 24-hour care and expensive treatments.
Standard of Care
In California, bus drivers are held to a heightened standard of care that requires them to use the utmost care and diligence in transporting their passengers. To that end, drivers must exercise a reasonable degree of skill in fulfilling these duties. When a bus driver acts below this level of care, he or she becomes liable for any injuries that occur as a result. However, if the cause of the accident was related to poor maintenance that led the vehicle to malfunction, rather than to the fault of the driver, the government entity or company that is responsible for bus maintenance can be held responsible. Similarly, if there is evidence that a driver did not receive appropriate training or did not have the requisite qualifications to adequately perform his or her task, the employers can be held liable for negligent hiring. Furthermore, if the bus is operated by the city, school district, or other government entity, plaintiffs must file a claim within 180 days or they will be barred from collecting compensation for their injuries. If the bus was owned by a private company, a plaintiff will have two years to file a claim.
When a bus accident occurs and results in a passenger’s injuries, the negligent driver or bus company can be held liable for the costs of those injuries. Compensation that can be collected by a victim includes:
- Costs associated with medical treatment;
- Emotional trauma;
- Lost wages; and
- Loss of future income.
In some cases, when it is established that a driver was reckless or intentionally caused an injury, a victim may also be awarded punitive damages, which are meant to deter future similar behavior. Bus accidents can be devastating for both victims and their families. Injuries can be life-threatening, permanent, and expensive to treat, and the emotional toll of the death or injury of a loved one can take an enormous emotional toll. If you have suffered an injury in a bus accident, please contact one of our experienced San Luis Obispo attorneys at the offices of Steven P. Roberts for a consultation.