When larger vehicles, such as trucks and busses, are involved in motor vehicle crashes, the consequences in terms of human injuries and fatalities are higher than with smaller cars or motorcycles. In part due to their larger size and heavier weights, busses and other commercial vehicles cause greater damage. They also are likely to be carrying more people, especially on busses.
School busses, city busses, interstate and inter-city busses, charter and tour busses and smaller transport busses all have a specific duty to try to protect their passengers by providing reasonable care. If they fail in their duty somehow, the injured passengers or their loved ones may use the legal system to recover fair compensation for expenses and damage claims that result from accidents.
California Bus Accidents
California is an excellent state for tourism and road travel in general. The state has about 394,608 total lane miles for travel, and those roads carry several hundreds of thousands of vehicles daily. Accidents that happen at high speeds can cause enormous physical injury or death. Speeding and ignoring traffic laws contribute heavily to the high accident rates. When common carriers like busses loaded with passengers get into a crash, there are multiple problems that add to the initial impact damages and injuries.
In California, like the rest of the nation, bus accidents and other large vehicle collisions are responsible for high costs for victims and their families. A passenger or school bus may be carrying 30 to 70 or more people at any one time. If they are involved in a collision, many or all persons on board could be injured or killed, depending on the severity of the accident.
Nationwide, in 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 32,885 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents, and 2.24 million people were injured. For that same year in California, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that busses were involved in 1,118 non-fatal crashes and 679 injury crashes.
Bus Accident Injuries
There are several problems inherent to the structure of busses than contribute to injury and fatality totals.
- Size & Capacity – busses can accommodate dozens of people, and they come in all sizes, from small passenger busses to medium sizes like school busses, and the very large tour busses.
- Structure – the structure of busses can also be a problem when the vehicle is involved in an accident. Many busses tip over on their side or roll onto their tops, crushing the vehicle and harming passengers. The large flat surfaces get compressed and passengers may be unable to access emergency exits. Large windscreens are made of laminated glass, which is very hard to break without a sharp tool like an ax.
- Fire Potential – the larger gas tanks and heaters on busses can cause fires that quickly engulf the passenger compartment. This happens frequently with rollover accidents.
- Exit Problems – when a bus is damaged, the emergency exits can easily become damaged also, unable to be used. Passengers become trapped and also may panic because they cannot get outside the vehicle.
Injuries that occur in bus accidents are similar to injuries that happen with other vehicles, except that passengers have less protection. Most busses are not equipped with seat belts or other passenger restriction aides. There may be loose baggage that falls out of overhead storage areas. When a vehicle comes to a quick halt due to an accident, those loose items continue to toss around at high speeds, causing physical harm to passengers. There is some current demand for installing seat belts on school busses today, which should decrease bodily injuries in those accidents.
The types of physical injuries in bus accidents is similar to those in other vehicle accidents, except that some are more severe because of the lack of passenger restriction devices and the larger interior spaces that allow loose passengers to become tossed around inside the bus. When the damage in severe, the structure flaws may also allow more people to be thrown outside the vehicle.
- Head, Neck, Spine Injuries – With no restrictive devices, passengers are prone to these injuries, which can cause trouble later on, in addition to immediate problems. Some injuries could result in paralysis.
- Limbs – Arms, legs, hands, and fingers are often bruised, broken, or amputated in collisions, due to impact with the vehicle, with objects or when people are ejected from the bus.
- Burns – Especially in a rollover accident, bus passengers may also suffer burns.
- Other Injury – If a bus lands in a body of water, the passengers may drown because they cannot exit the damaged vehicle.
California Bus Accidents Lawyer
If you or a loved one are injured or killed in a bus accident, contacting an experienced California Bus Accidents Lawyer is the first person other than medical help that you should contact to get on the road to recovery. Injuries that people suffer in bus accidents can be severe and long-lasting, requiring much time to get back to normal living, if that is even possible. Income is lost because you are unable to work or return to your same job; you may need rehabilitation and retraining for a different type of work. If a loved one dies in a bus accident, there will be immediate medical bills, funeral and burial expense to pay.
Your California Bus Accidents Lawyer will be able to help you get through this difficult time. With most personal injury cases, the attorneys base their fees on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay when you win. If your case is not won, there are no attorney fees, but you still may need to pay for minor office expenses. No matter what the ultimate outcome is, your current lifestyle will be dramatically changed and possibly forever. You deserve fair compensation for these injuries that were due to no fault of your own.
The attorney can examine all aspects of the accident and evidence. Accidents can be caused by many things, including driver error, faulty training or lack of supervision, parts or equipment defects/failures, deliberate acts, road conditions, on-board fires, and traffic law violations. Weather conditions and the negligence of drivers of other vehicles that hit the bus could also be an element of your case. The attorney can bring in expert witnesses to recreate the scenes and to help determine what the cause of the accident was, and who the responsible parties or companies are. They will build a strong case to get you the best possible settlement or outcome in a court trial.
California Personal Injury Laws
There are many traffic laws that apply to the commercial vehicle transportation industry. California Personal Injury Laws allow people who have been wrongly injured in accidents that are due to someone else’s careless or negligent behavior to seek fair compensation for accident injuries. These laws extend to survivors of loved ones who are killed in these types of accidents. Proving negligence is a critical element for winning your case. You are best served by working with an experienced California Personal Injury Attorney, and in the case with bus accidents, you want one who has handled and won many similar cases.