Corpus Christi Bus Accident Attorneys
Corpus Christi Bus Accident Law Firm
Recently, a scary situation occurred when a school bus, carrying about a dozen students slid on wet roads and rear-ended a passenger car a short distance from an elementary school. No one was hurt in the accident, and the bus was not damaged. However, the car was disabled in the accident and needed to be towed from the scene. While the situation wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it brings up a particularly dangerous type of accident.
In Texas, 10 fatal accidents involved buses in one year, including five rural crashes and five urban crashes. The statistics don’t reveal what type of bus was involved, but bus accidents may involve tour buses, city transport buses, buses that travel between cities, and school buses.
Nationally, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 73 school buses and 13 intercity buses involved in fatal accidents in 2017—the lowest number since 1975. A ten-year average of bus accidents reveal that about 13 percent of fatal bus accidents, city transport buses account for about 40 percent of fatal accidents, and school buses account for about 35 percent.
If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a bus accident, there may be money available to compensate you for your injuries and related expenses, or for your loss. An Corpus Christi personal injury lawyer at the Patel Firm can help you to understand the legal process of obtaining this compensation.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
Just as with any type of motor vehicle accident, many things that may cause a bus to crash. While the bus accident described above involved inclement weather, which can make it harder for a vehicle to come to a safe stop, other factors—mostly related to human error—can also result in an accident.
Some of the most common reasons why buses crash include:
- Blind spots: Like other commercial motor vehicles, buses are massive in size when compared to the average passenger car. With this size comes the issue of blind spots, which are areas to the rear and sides of the vehicle that the driver cannot see by looking in his or her rear view or side mirrors. If a vehicle lingers in one of these areas for too long, the bus driver may forget that it is there and inadvertently enter the vehicle’s lane of travel. Pedestrians and bicyclists are also at risk of entering the blind spot of a bus, resulting in accidents that often result in serious or fatal consequences.
- Inadequate training: With a shortage of bus drivers in many areas, those in charge of manning the buses may feel that it is necessary to place new drivers behind the wheel without first ensuring that they are fully prepared for the job.
- Maintenance problems: A bus may travel many miles within a short period of time, requiring maintenance to be necessary much more quickly than that of a passenger car. Failing to maintain a bus may result in dangerous issues such as overly worn tires, engine problems such as a buildup of oil and residue on the engine that may result in a fire, or inadequate braking systems that can lead to an accident.
- Bus driver distraction: Bus drivers may become distracted by unruly passengers, as well as by the typical distractions that plague any type of driver including texting and other cell phone use, eating, drinking, confusion in work zones and other external sources including other vehicles, people walking in or near the roadway, or even billboards.
- Fatigued drivers: Just as with any driver of a commercial vehicle, bus drivers may be expected to work long shifts. The driver may have sleep apnea or another medical condition or medication that results in fatigue. Fatigued driving is very similar to alcohol-impaired driving in the deficits it creates in the skills and functions the driver needs to operate the vehicle safely.
- Misjudging the space needed to stop or turn: Large vehicles require more distance to make a safe stop due to their weight and are required to make wide turns due to their length. If a driver underestimates the space he or she needs to maneuver, it places other travelers on the roadway at risk.
About School Bus Accidents
According to the National Safety Council, school bus accidents resulted in the deaths of 117 people in 2018. In those accidents, about 70 percent of the fatalities occurred to the occupants of other vehicles. About 17 percent were pedestrians. Five percent were school bus passengers, while 4 percent were school bus drivers, and 2 percent were bicyclists. Of the people injured in school bus accidents, about 35 percent were the passengers on the bus, 8 percent were the bus drivers, and half of those injured were occupants in other vehicles. The remainder were pedestrians or bicyclists.
Approximately 25 million children in the United States ride a school bus to and from school every day, with transportation being provided via more than 471,000 school buses.
About Intercity Bus Accidents
Recently, six people were injured in the early morning hours when a big-rig crashed into a Greyhound bus in The Woodlands, Texas, including the driver of the truck and five of the passengers on the bus. The bus, which was disabled on the side of Interstate 45 at the time when the accident occurred, was struck by the truck, which was transporting a load of bottled water. In addition to the injuries, the accident caused the water bottles to be scattered across the roadway. Additionally, the truck took out a large roadway sign. The interstate was closed for several hours for clean up. Twenty-six passengers were riding the bus at the time of the accident.
Intercity bus service, such as that provided by Greyhound and other carriers, offers transportation to passengers from one area to another, often for far lower fares than those paid for Amtrak or airline service. After many years in which there were 30 to 45 fatal accidents involving this type of bus, recent years saw much lower accident rates, with 17 and 13 fatal accidents, respectively.
About Transit Bus Accidents
Recently, a 30-year-old man was killed when his car was struck by a Galveston Island Transit tourist bus. The accident happened when the bus made a left turn while traveling west. The eastbound car was traveling in the left lane when it collided with the bus at the intersection. The accident caused the man’s vehicle to be pinned beneath the bus. The man and his dog, who was traveling with him, both died at the scene. The bus driver was treated for his injuries. The bus had just completed its last stop and was out of service at the time when the accident occurred.
A recent tally of riders on Corpus Christi’s Regional Transport Authority’s buses revealed that about 415,000 riders boarded buses in the city in a month’s time—a sharp increase from 391,500 boardings in December of 2017.
The RTA recently proposed the first rate increase in years, stating that the amount currently collected in fares was not enough to continue operation. The plan was met with concern by riders who stated that they cannot afford to pay the increased fares. In addition to covering operating expenses, the RTA noted, the increased fares would allow for increased security and enhanced experience for riders.
Who Is to Blame in Bus Accidents?
If you were injured in a bus accident in Corpus Christi, one of the major questions that must be answered when it comes to determining your eligibility to pursue compensation for your injury-related expenses is who was liable for the accident.
Multiple liable parties may cause bus accidents, including:
- The bus driver whose errors may have resulted in the accident.
- The school district, transit authority, or carrier company for which the bus driver was employed. Companies and governmental entities who hire drivers to transport passengers are tasked with things involving that driver’s ability to operate the vehicle including ensuring that the driver has the required licensing and training, conducting a thorough background check including previous driving history, and ensuring that the driver has adequate breaks, is drug and alcohol-free, and is operating a properly maintained vehicle.
- The individual or entity tasked with providing maintenance on the bus, if the issue involves an improperly maintained vehicle.
- Other drivers whose negligent actions may have also factored into the crash.
For each potentially liable party, your attorney can study the facts of the case to determine if negligence can be established. Negligence is established by proving the following elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care. In a case involving negligence on the part of a bus driver, the duty of care to passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians or bicyclists, the duty of care would be to operate the bus in a safe and lawful manner. The duty of care that a school district, transit authority, or other provider of bus transport, the duty of care would be to ensure that the bus driver was properly licensed, adequately trained, and that all background checks and required drug, alcohol, and physical health testing were performed. The duty of care for maintenance personnel might be to perform regular maintenance and repairs satisfactorily, ensuring that the vehicle was safe to operate on public roadways.
- There was a breach of the duty of care. This may involve the bus driver failing to drive safely; his or her employer failing to make sure that the driver was adequately trained; or the maintenance personnel allowing the bus to operate with an unsafe defect such as underinflated tires or oil and debris build-up on the engine.
- This breach caused the accident that resulted in injury and injury-related expenses to the plaintiff.
Texas law allows the pursuit of accident-related expenses such as:
- Medical expenses, including fees for ambulance service, treatment in the emergency department, diagnostic testing, surgical services, hospitalization, rehabilitation, prescription medication, and home modifications that are necessary to accommodate disabilities acquired from the accident including wheelchair ramps, lifts, lowered countertops, widened doors, and roll-in showers.
- Property damage to your vehicle.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend doctor’s appointments, as well as loss of future earning capacity in cases involving permanent disability.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, or scarring and disfigurement.
- In some cases, punitive damages—which are damages designed to “punish” the defendant for particularly egregious behavior may also be awarded.
Obtaining a Fair Settlement in a Corpus Christi Bus Accident Case
Insurance companies are in the business to make money. One of the ways they do this is by avoiding large payouts on third-party claims against their insured. If you’ve been injured in a bus accident in Corpus Christi, your strongest opportunity to obtain a settlement or award that adequately covers your accident-related expenses is by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney.
Some services your personal injury attorney may provide include:
- Legal guidance so that you can make informed decisions in regards to whether a settlement that has been offered is fair, or whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit to seek an award.
- A thorough investigation into your case to uncover potential sources of liability and insurance resources that can be used to ensure that you obtain fair compensation for the injuries and expenses incurred.
- Skilled negotiation with the insurance company.
- Timely filing of a personal injury lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction.
- Experienced representation at all pre-trial hearings as well as during the trial itself.
- Assistance in collecting the funds that are owed to you through a settlement or award.
- Continued representation if the defendant in your case files an appeal.
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