• JC Serrano

Were You in a Bus Crash in California?

Updated: Apr 26

Finding a personal injury attorney after a bus accident

Unfortunately, bus crashes and injuries are not as uncommon as you would imagine. For one thing, except on school buses, bus passengers are not required to wear seat belts. Furthermore, several bus passengers travel standing, with just a hanging strap to help them keep their balance. To make matters worse, buses are fitted with multiple metal poles that passengers can collide with if ejected from their seats or knocked off balance while standing. Passengers can also be injured if they collide with other passengers in such circumstances.

los angeles personal injury attorneys

Types of Buses on California's Highways

On streets and highways, there have several bus types. In addition to city buses, charter buses are available to carry passengers to out-of-town tourist destinations and destination weddings and family reunions. Privately operated buses also transport members of various clubs, businesses, and religious groups on retreats or recreational outings.

Accident on a School Bus

School buses can be statistically better than having a ride to school in a car for children. School bus incidents do happen, and when they do, the driver and the school district can be held accountable.

If the bus driver's negligence causes a school bus accident, the court can determine liability by whether the school operated the buses or hired another company to do so. If the school owned the bus, the school might be held responsible for the driver's negligence. If a private corporation owned the bus, the company might be held responsible for the driver's negligence.

An employer is vicariously responsible for damages incurred by a reckless employee behaving within the framework of his or her job under California's "respondeat superior" rules.

Since the employer is more likely to have the funds to pay for insurance, the injury survivor has a higher chance of receiving full compensation for the accident. By keeping the employer accountable, is also a way to help avoid similar incidents in the future.

Accident on a Tour Bus

There are many tour bus companies that run in California and across state lines. Local routes that visit tourist attractions or casinos and long-distance tour buses fall under this category. Many of these tour bus companies need drivers to adhere to strict time schedules, drive for long periods of time, and operate buses that aren't always in good working order.

The tour bus company can be held liable for damages if the driver is reckless. However, if the employer was incompetent in recruiting, preparing, or supervising the driver, the company or operator could be personally responsible for the driver's conduct. Failure to check the driver's background or credentials could result in the employer being held responsible for negligent hiring.

All drivers have a responsibility to others on the lane, but commercial drivers have a higher degree of responsibility. Commercial bus companies, including tour bus companies, are classified as "common carriers" in most cases.

A common carrier is a company that charges a fee to carry people or goods. Under California law, common carriers are kept to a higher level of protection. "A carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide anything appropriate for that purpose, and must exercise a fair degree of skill to that end," according to the California Civil Code.

The tour bus company could be in violation of their duties as a common carrier if they do not adequately repair the buses, inspect the vehicles for safety problems, or train and supervise drivers. If a bus crash occurs as a result of the safety violations, the bus operator may be held responsible for the damages.

Accident on a Bus in Public Transportation

In most cases, charges against the government are made in public bus crash litigation. In California, public buses may be run by the city, county, state, or another regional authority. Suits brought against the government could be subject to different rules than those brought against private parties.

Many forms of lawsuits are protected from state governments by the concept of "sovereign immunity." California, on the other hand, has waived sovereign immunity in several cases of employee negligence. 8 Injury victims may make a lawsuit against the state or municipal authority that runs the bus line if a reckless public bus driver causes an accident.

In California, most personal injury lawsuits have a two-year "statute of limitations." This applies to how long a plaintiff has to file a complaint. The plaintiff will not be entitled to recover damages if they do not bring a complaint under the statute of limitations.

Other notice deadlines apply to lawsuits against the government, which the accident claimant must meet. In most cases, you must file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit with the government within six months of the accident. If the victim does not file a lawsuit within six months, he or she will forfeit the right to compensation.

Bus Accidents and Their Causes

Though a bus accident can be caused by bad weather or the unexpected presence of an animal on the road, the majority of bus accidents are caused by human error.

It's possible that the bus driver is to blame for:

  • Texting, talking, GPS navigation, eating, or drinking while driving are all examples of distractions.

  • Speeding or reckless driving, which is even riskier because of the bus's size and ability to become unbalanced, particularly around curves.

  • Working long hours and the monotony of driving will cause you to drive when tired.

  • Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal.

The bus company may be mainly responsible for:

  • Failure to properly vet or train the driver

  • Failure to maintain the bus mechanically

  • Putting too much pressure on the driver to adhere to a tight schedule

  • Not giving the driver enough time to rest

As previously stated, your accidents may be the fault of another driver or a road maintenance agency. It's also conceivable that the bus had a manufacturing flaw, such as defective brakes, where the bus manufacturer would be held responsible. You can trust our experienced bus crash lawyers to figure out who is to blame.

Types of Bus Accidents

Although a bus crash is an unavoidable occurrence, there are some commonalities among them. Dangerous behaviors such as driving while distracted, driving too fast for the conditions, and driving while intoxicated continue to place bus riders and fellow travelers at risk of serious injuries. The following are some of the most common forms of bus accidents:

  • Accidents involving rollovers

  • T-bone collisions

  • Collisions that occur head-on

  • Collisions with the rear of the car

  • Accidents involving sideswipes

It's important to remember that negligence can occur not only when the bus is being operated but also due to poor vehicle maintenance. The bus company's failure to check the brakes, tires and other bus components on a regular basis is negligence. If a bus accident happens as a result of a maintenance problem, you have the legal right to seek compensation for all accident-related damages as the injured person.

In bus crashes, who is to blame?

The passenger is not at fault, even in the most extreme of situations. Buses are classified as "common carriers" under California law, and as such, owe a special duty of care to those they transport. This means that if the crash was caused by a bus driver's fault or improper vehicle maintenance, the bus operator is liable for any personal injuries or property harm.

Of course, there will be times when another driver is to blame for a crash. There are also instances where the city, county, or state may be sued for negligence if the accident was caused by road damage or debris that the contractors or builder should have removed. Bus accident lawyers are skilled negotiators as well as experienced litigators and are often able to obtain settlements without having to go to trial.

Who Else Can You Sue?

Depending on the type of bus accident and the cause of the accident, the persons or groups responsible for the accident can vary. The liable parties are referred to as "defendants" in a personal injury case by the injured party (plaintiff). Defendants in bus incidents can include:

  1. Driver of a bus

  2. Supervisor of bus drivers

  3. Owner of a bus

  4. Operator of tour buses

  5. Bus driver for a school

  6. Operator of charter buses

  7. Drivers of other vehicles

  8. Company or group that maintains buses

  9. If it's a city, county, or state department,

  10. Owner of a bus stop

  11. Manufacturer of buses

  12. Manufacturer of bus parts

Multiple defendants can share blame for causing the accident in some cases. Even if the injury survivor was partially to blame for the accident, he or she could still be entitled to compensation. The plaintiff will recover damages under California's "comparative fault" statute, even if he or she is partly to blame for the accident. The damages are limited, however, depending on the plaintiff's percentage of the blame.

The plaintiff in most bus accident personal injury cases will seek damages by demonstrating that the defendant's negligence caused the accident. Negligence has the following components:

  • The defendant had a duty of care to the complainant.

  • The defendant's duty of responsibility was violated.

  • The plaintiff's injuries were caused in large part by the defendant's violation.

bus crash personal injury attorney

If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant was responsible, the defendant can be found liable for the accident and may reimburse the plaintiff.

It's worth remembering that in California, getting behind the wheel for so many hours in a day is a misdemeanor under Vehicle 21702. Under California's negligence per se rules, a drowsy bus driver who exceeds the Vehicle Code 21702 cap and causes an accident can be held responsible.

When a Bus Crash Leads to Catastrophic Injuries

Passengers have been known to suffer serious injuries and even death as a result of bus crashes. If you're a passenger on a bus that crashes into a cliff or collides with another large vehicle or a pedestrian who manages to cross the street just in time, bus-related accidents are fairly common and frightening. Many schools and tour buses also lack seat belts, and the large space inside a bus causes passengers to be thrown around and seriously injured in a bus accident. Since colliding with each other, buses have been known to catch fire.

Catastrophic Injuries, unlike the general concept of personal injury, are directly crippling. Victims are unable to work due to the severity of their injuries, which has a detrimental effect on any aspect of their lives, on top of having to cope with huge medical bills.

A traumatic accident will alter the victim's life as well as the lives of those around them forever. It has the potential to cause chronic pain and long-term illnesses, lowering a person's quality of life. Also, basic daily activities can become difficult when you have permanent impediments as a result of a serious injury.

Catastrophic Injuries: Basics

A catastrophic injury is described differently in each state, but it typically refers to a personal injury that results in one or more of the following:

  1. Issues with your health (long-term or lasts a long time)

  2. Your average life expectancy is decreased