A recent “Indiana Crash Facts” report from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reports that 1,181 buses, including 747 school buses, were involved in accidents in 2016. While not all of these accidents resulted in injuries, riding a bus can present risks.
Bus accidents are often more complex than ordinary car crashes, particularly when the bus is part of a public transit system or is a school bus, and government entities such as municipalities or school districts may face liability for damages. Commercial vehicle operators must adhere to heightened safety standards and carry extensive insurance policies. In addition to the unique legalities involved in bus accidents, victims face increased risk for and severity of injuries and damages.
If you or a loved one was injured in a bus accident, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do next. Contact the personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Hurst Limontes LLC at (317) 636-0808 or online to discuss your case and learn if you are eligible for compensation.
What Injuries Do Bus Accidents Cause?
Bus accident injuries are not unlike injuries sustained in other vehicle accidents. However, buses are large commercial vehicles, and bus accidents may cause worse injuries than standard car accidents because of the weight involved. While some bus seats may have pads, they may not provide sufficient protection for victims in high speed collisions. In addition, many buses—school buses and otherwise—are not equipped with seat belts. In some cases, victims may stand in the aisle at the time of the accident, further heightening the risk and severity of injuries.
Common bus accident injuries include:
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Fractured bones
- Head traumas, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries such as Neck & Back Injury
Who May Contribute to Bus Accidents?
Buses are generally commercial vehicles, and multiple parties may play a role in an accident, including:
- Bus drivers. We entrust bus drivers with the public welfare and the lives of their passengers. A driver would bear liability in a bus accident for distracted driving, fatigued driving, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and violating traffic laws.
- School districts. A school district face liability when a bus accident involves a school bus. Such liability may relate to ownership and maintenance of the bus, as well as employee hiring and training practices.
- Bus company or owner. The owner of the bus may face liability for a bus accident. Such liability may involve negligent maintenance, employee hiring, and/or training practices.
- Maintenance contractor. A third-party maintenance contractor may face liability for a bus accident when a school district, bus owner, charter company, or municipality contracted bus maintenance to them.
- Bus manufacturer or parts manufacturer. If a product defect caused a bus accident, any party in the chain of distribution of the bus or its parts, including the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer, may face liability.
- State of Indiana. The state may bear liability for an accident if bus inspectors failed to identify safety issues during required annual inspections.
- County or municipality. If a poorly maintained road caused a bus accident, the county or municipality where the accident occurred may face liability.
- Another driver. Factors where another driver may face liability for a bus accident include driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications; fatigued or distracted driving; and violating traffic laws.
What Damages Can Victims Recover for a Bus Accident Injury?
Damages depend on the severity of the injury and the resulting real and projected losses. These may include:
- Medical costs, including ambulance rides, hospital stays, doctor visits, surgeries, radiology, and prescription medication
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages, or lost earning capacity
- Physical therapy and rehabilitative services
- Assistive technology and devices, including software and hardware used to help with sensory issues, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and walkers
- Long-term care for permanent disabilities
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Bus Companies and Government Agencies Will Try to Escape Liability
Parties with liability for an accident will often go the distance to avoid paying full damages. Insurance companies commonly deny claims the first time, and argue injuries are not as severe as you claim. Insurance carriers and their representatives will vigorously investigate the injured individuals to prove preexisting injuries or conditions.
Indiana is not a no-fault state, giving defendants an incentive to shift the blame to the victim. Commercial vehicle insurance carriers often use this defense tactic, especially when a school district or private charter company bus is involved in an accident. Not only do defendants and their representatives attempt to shift the blame to the victim, they may also distance themselves from the driver or claim the driver’s negligence caused the accident.
An experienced personal injury attorney will challenge the common defenses used in bus accident cases, and they will work to get the best possible outcomes for victims.
If You Sustained Injuries in an Indianapolis Bus Accident, Call the Law Offices of William W. Hurst
Most law firms offer free consultations to discuss potential cases. The individual consultation allows a lawyer to evaluate the specific situation, and advise on next steps. If you have a consultation and the lawyer agrees to pursue your claim, you may not have to pay attorney fees and litigation costs up front. Attorneys typically take personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning the lawyer will deduct fees and expenses from any eventual settlement or judgment.
A bus accident may change your life for the worse. An experienced advocate knows how to fight to hold responsible parties liable for damages they have caused. The lawyers at the Law Offices of William W. Hurst are committed to helping personal injury victims protect their rights. If you were injured in a bus accident, call the Law Offices of William W. Hurst at (317) 636-0808 or use our online form and contact us.