Bus collisions can be the source of severe injuries whether you are the driver or passenger of another vehicle, passenger on a bus or a pedestrian. These injuries can have a profound and lasting effect on an individual’s life. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Hanson & Mouri. We can provide you with a free case evaluation and help you to understand the needed actions that must be undertaken to protect your rights.
We understand how difficult dealing with the aftermath of a bus accident can be. We treat all of our clients with compassion and personally answer their questions and concerns throughout the duration of the case.
Bus accidents are complicated and must be handled differently than a typical motor vehicle collision such as a truck accident or Riverside car accident. The liable parties may include private bus operating companies, commercial insurance companies, city agencies and or the charter bus industry. Commercial insurance companies are notoriously aggressive and difficult to deal with. The at-fault party may deny responsibility for the accident altogether, leaving the victim with no way to pay medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering associated with the injuries.
While at the scene and in the weeks following a bus accident in Riverside, here is what to do.
The driver of the bus will typically call emergency services, but if they are incapacitated or unwilling to alert authorities, call 911. It is imperative that emergency medical responders and law enforcement come to the scene to treat anyone injured and create an accident report.
Document the Scene
If you do not have to be medically transported to the hospital, try to remain at the scene and document everything you can about the bus accident. Take photos of vehicles, and the surrounding area, then get contact information from fellow passengers, the bus driver, and any other parties involved in the crash, as well as witnesses. Ask the bus driver which company they work for and for their contact information as well.
Seek Medical Care
Even if you do not believe you are injured, make sure you are checked out by a medical professional as soon as you leave the scene. Some injuries, such as those to the brain, neck, or back, may not be immediately noticeable and can take a few days for symptoms to develop. Additionally, to ensure you can recover compensation for any potential injuries in a future insurance claim, you must be seen by a medical professional.
File an Injury Claim
Who you must file an injury claim with will depend on the cause of the collision and the owner of the bus. Bus companies are typically owned by local municipalities or other forms of government, so you may need to file an injury claim with the appropriate government agency.
Speak to a Riverside Bus Accident Lawyer
To determine who is liable and how to go about filing an injury claim, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. They will ensure the wrongful party is held accountable, that you do not miss any filing deadlines, and that you recover the compensation you deserve.
The most common types of buses in Riverside include:
When buses are operated by government agencies, different and very specific legal procedures must be followed to bring your claim against government parties successfully. Public bus agencies in Southern California include the following:
Common bus accidents include head-on, rear-end and side impact collisions. Causes for bus accidents include:
Bus accidents can happen for a wide variety of reasons, but the most common causes in Riverside include the following:
Bus drivers and others on the road can make preventable mistakes or errors that lead to accidents. For example, failing to use signals, drifting into another lane, abrupt lane changes, failing to obey traffic signs, driving while tired, etc.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of collisions, mostly caused by talking or texting on a cell phone, eating or drinking, reaching for an item, talking to passengers, reaching for an item, or daydreaming.
Speeding drastically increases the time a driver needs to brake and avoid a crash. Additionally, speeding makes it easier for drivers to lose control or make a bad decision when they are in a hurry.
Defective Bus Equipment
Bus companies are required to perform routine safety inspections and maintenance of their vehicles to ensure they are safe for use. However, if they fail to regularly inspect or properly maintain a bus, equipment failure can cause an accident. Additionally, some buses or their parts are inherently dangerous due to manufacturing defects, which would make the manufacturer liable for a collision.
Driving Under the Influence
A driver’s ability to operate a bus safely is significantly diminished if they are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. It is against the law for bus drivers to work while impaired. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established strict guidelines against it and requires testing.
Bus accidents can also be caused by dangerous road conditions or hazards, such as inclement weather, large potholes or cracks, narrow roads, faded lines, a lack of signage, or construction zones.
It is possible for more than one person or party to be found liable. Whether it is an individual, a company, a government agency, or multiple parties, holding them accountable will require evidence. Your attorney will first investigate the collision to determine who is at fault, then gather evidence to support your claim. To prove another party is liable involves demonstrating the following four elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
The defendant (at-fault party) owed the plaintiff (victim) a duty of care. For example, bus drivers owe passengers and others on the road a heightened duty of care to drive safely and follow traffic laws.
Breach of Duty
The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act as another reasonable person would in a similar situation. For instance, the bus driver ran a stop sign, causing an accident.
The defendant’s actions directly led to the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, you would not have been injured if not for the defendant’s behavior. For example, had the bus driver stopped at the stop sign, you would not have been injured in a collision.
The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. You must have experienced some time of financial or personal loss for which you deserve compensation, or else there is no case (e.g., medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.)
A bus accident lawyer will collect evidence for a bus accident in various ways, for example, by:
This is not an exhaustive list, but an attorney will ensure all critical evidence is preserved before it is lost or destroyed so that you have a strong case.
Each state has a statute of limitations that limits how long injury victims have to file a bus accident claim. Under California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 335.1, you have two years to file a claim from the date a bus accident occurs in Riverside. However, if the liable party is a government agency, the claim must be filed within six months of the injury. You have another six months to file a lawsuit if your claim is rejected.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?
There are very limited exceptions to the statute of limitations and there is typically no way around it. If you fail to file a claim within the deadline, the court will most likely dismiss your case, and you will be barred from pursuing compensation.
How you go about filing an injury claim after a bus accident will depend on fault and the type of bus. You may have to contact the at-fault party’s insurance company directly to file a claim, or you may need to submit a claim to the City of Riverside online or a government claim form. Determining who to file a claim against and how to file and recover the compensation you are entitled to can be complex. Fortunately, a Riverside Bus Accident Attorney can handle every aspect of your case for you, including the paperwork and pursuing compensation from the appropriate parties.
California is considered one of the three most deadliest states in bus accidents. In 2020, there were 176 total fatalities in bus crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). School buses and transit buses accounted for 131 of those fatalities. Although the number did decrease from the previous year, which saw 261 fatalities, the number is still high. School buses and transit buses are most likely to be involved in fatal collisions. Statistics also show that most fatal accidents involving buses happen during the day and on weekdays, with the majority in California taking place in the southern portion of the state.
Dealing with aftermath of an accident can cause one to delay in seeking legal representation. It is important when dealing with a bus accident case to begin filing the necessary legal paperwork immediately. Please call our firm today so one of our experienced Riverside personal injury attorneys can provide you with a free consultation.