Here in Greater Los Angeles, buses are everywhere. They offer a great, affordable way to get around town or to travel to other cities, but when bus accidents occur, they are often catastrophic and deadly. With their excessive weight, slow breaking times, difficulty in maneuvering, lack of seat belts, and blind spots, it comes as no surprise that buses are involved in so many serious accidents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus injury accident, whether as a passenger on the bus, the driver or passenger of another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, you must take immediate action to secure evidence, get medical treatment, and prove at-fault parties responsible for the harm and devastation they caused. Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyers, investigators, and professional staff have handled thousands of bus accident cases over our 30-plus years of service and have the skills and experience to deliver the results you deserve.
What types of vehicles are considered a bus?
Buses are considered “common carriers” in the eyes of the law and held to a higher standard of care than an average passenger vehicle. Types of buses include:
- City buses
- School buses
- Coach, intercity, or long-haul buses (such as Greyhound)
- Feeder buses
- Government buses (Federal, State, County)
- Commuter buses
- Larger vans
- Mobile trailers or homes
Common causes of bus accidents:
- Driver error
- Lack of proper training
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Failure to anticipate traffic, changing road conditions, and weather
- Mechanical and maintenance issues
- Taking turns or corners too fast
- Blind spots and visibility issues that obscure other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists
- Sudden braking or sudden swerving causing injury to passengers
- Lack of seat belts
Statistics show that bus accidents are far too common and highly dangerous:
- 264 total fatalities, nationwide, as a result of bus accidents in 2016
- 40 occupant fatalities, nationwide, as a result of bus crashes in 2016
- 35,000 people injured, nationwide, as a result of bus accidents in 2016
Who Can A Sue After a Bus Crash?
Liability after bus accidents can be complicated because many potential parties could be held responsible. In most cases, responsibility will fall on either the bus company or the driver; however, there are exceptions. For example, if a mechanical failure caused the accident, the company that manufactured the defective part could also be held liable. Or if poor road conditions caused the accident, then the government entity responsible for maintaining those roads could be held accountable.
There are also instances in which multiple parties may be held liable for a bus accident. For example, if both the driver and the bus company were negligent in their duties (the driver for speeding and driving recklessly and the bus company for failing to properly maintain the vehicle), both parties could be sued after a bus accident. In this instance, each party would likely only be required to pay a portion of the damages based on their degree of negligence.
Proving Negligence After a Bus Accident
For someone to sue after a bus accident, they must first be able to prove that another party was negligent in their actions (or inaction). To do this, they will need to gather evidence that shows how each party involved breached their duty of care and how that breach led directly to the accident and resulting injuries.
Some common examples of negligence after a bus accident include:
- The driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the bus accident;
- The driver was speeding or driving recklessly
- The driver failed to yield the right-of-way
- The driver ignored traffic signs or signals
- The driver fell asleep at the wheel
- The bus company failed to properly maintain the vehicle
- The bus company hired an inexperienced or unqualified driver
- There was a mechanical failure due to defective parts
- Poor road conditions contributed to the accident
If you can prove that another party’s negligence led to your injuries in a bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc. An experienced bus accident attorney can help you gather evidence and build a strong case, giving you a better chance of receiving full and fair compensation for your damages. They can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and handle all aspects of your bus accident claim so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Can I File on Behalf of a Family Member Who Was Killed?
In most cases, the answer is yes—you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party in a bus accident. However, it’s important to remember that each bus accident case is unique, and there may be some circumstances under which you could not file suit. For example, if your loved one died without any dependent children or immediate family, you may not have the standing to sue.
In general, only certain parties can file a wrongful death lawsuit following a bus accident. Typically, this will include the following:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- The surviving children of the deceased
- The parents of the deceased, if the deceased was unmarried and did not have any surviving children.
If multiple surviving family members meet one or more of the above criteria, they may all choose to file suit together.
It’s also important to note that in some cases, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may be able to file suit on behalf of all survivors. This is typically true when multiple survivors cannot agree on who should take legal action.
What should I do if I’m the victim of a bus accident?
If you are a passenger on a bus, here are some important tips to follow:
- Report the accident by calling 911
- Seek or demand medical treatment, even if your injuries seem minor at the time
- Collect witness information, any information about the bus driver (and/or badge number) and operating entity
- Document and photograph the scene, the bus, other vehicles, and the roadway
- Make sure you are formally documented as a passenger on the bus
- Do not give any statements to any bus or insurance representatives
- Enlist the help of a skilled team of Los Angeles bus accident lawyers immediately
If your child is injured on a school bus
Entrusting your child to someone else is a big leap of faith. While you hope that the person driving your child’s school bus will treat your child like their own and exhibit safe practices, that is not always the case.
The fact is, negligent and reckless school bus drivers exist, and even good drivers often can’t avoid other careless bus drivers that are all over our Greater Los Angeles roadways.
If the unthinkable happens and your child is involved in a school bus accident, you need to be prepared and follow these steps if at all possible:
- Obtain any necessary medical attention for your child as soon as possible
- Remain calm, seek out family or friends for immediate support
- If at all possible, go to the site of the accident to be with your child
- Insist on your child getting medical treatment or evaluation for any perceived injury
- Be cautious about who you talk to and what you tell them
- Avoid giving recorded statements or signing any forms
- Engage an experienced, aggressive Los Angeles bus accident lawyer
Bus accidents can be very complex as several entities may be at fault, including the school, the school district, the bus company, the bus driver, the bus driver’s company, and others. Also, there are often several layers of contracts and insurance policies to analyze. Moreover, because a school bus accident lawsuit typically includes naming a public entity, you must adhere to the California Tort Claims Act and its tricky deadlines and requirements.
Steps you should take after a bus accident to preserve your rights:
- Report the accident by calling 911
- Seek or demand medical treatment
- Collect witness information, including the name of the bus driver (and/or badge number) and operating entity
- Document the scene, the bus, other vehicles, the roadway, and your vehicle’s damage
- Make sure the bus stops and information is obtained (in some cases, especially as it relates to pedestrians and bicyclists, the bus might not know it hit you)
- Seek immediate medical treatment
What are common bus accident injuries?
Bus accident injuries can range from minor to catastrophic or worse. Injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Wrongful death
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis (partial, full, temporary, and/or permanent)
- Broken bones or fractured bones
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Spine strain and sprain
- Nerve damage, numbness, and radiculopathy
- Cuts and lacerations
- Crush injuries
- Burns and scarring
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues
How do I pay for medical treatment, especially if I don’t have insurance?
After a bus accident, the most important thing for you to do is get immediate medical treatment and have access to doctors, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. In most cases, if you do not have health insurance, we can connect you with highly regarded doctors in the community who can treat you. Your medical bills will then factor into what we demand from the at-fault parties and ultimately be paid back from the proceeds of your bus accident case. Also, in some cases, if you qualify, our resourceful Los Angeles bus accident lawyers can help you ascertain free or low-cost coverage through programs such as Medi-Cal, Medi-Care, and others.
How do I pay for my living expenses if I cannot work?
When you suffer serious injuries from a bus accident, it is often impossible to carry on with your normal life activities, including work. While the other side is on the hook for lost income, a settlement or trial verdict can take some time. Fortunately, to get you through, we work with companies that can provide you a loan secured and paid back by the proceeds of your case. Additionally, in some circumstances, we can advance you money on the anticipated proceeds of your case.
Who are the most common defendants in a bus injury lawsuit?
The prime targets of a bus injury lawsuit can include the following:
- The driver of the bus
- The public entity that owns and/or operates the bus
- A private business, corporation, or non-profit that owns and/or operates the bus
- Maintenance companies that service buses if a mechanical issue caused the accident
- The designer and/or manufacturer of the bus
- A company that operates the bus, even if the bus is owned by another company
- The bus driver and/or entity that owns another vehicle (that caused or contributed to the bus accident)
- A public entity for roadway design or maintenance issues
What are the statute of limitations on bus injury cases and how long do cases usually last?
If you are only suing a private company or individual, then you have two years to bring a bus injury lawsuit from the time of the accident. If you are suing a public entity or an individual employed by a public entity, then you must adhere to the stringent California Tort Claims Act, which shrinks the time to make a bus accident claim down to six (6) months. The Tort Claims Act also has other highly technical requirements and deadlines. Because of the difficulties navigating this area of law, it is essential that you contact a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer to assist you with your personal injury case after an accident.
How does your law firm prove liability in a bus injury case?
Through immediate, thorough investigations, detailed fact-finding, and top-notch analysis, our award-winning Los Angeles bus accident lawyers get a quick start on your claim and don’t let their foot off the pedal. We target all potential at-fault parties and use aggressive discovery and deposition techniques to reveal the truth, get important documents and videos, and hold accountable parties responsible.
We also have a detailed understanding of the law that applies in this arena and the inner workings of the Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances that apply to buses and to the roadways. Bus accidents are often the result of systemic issues within the governmental department or private business, including failure to adequately train their bus drivers or provide proper rest breaks. In many cases, it can be proven that time and profit are often put in front of passenger safety.
Additionally, we have at our fingertips, in-house training and employee manuals from bus accident cases and a stock of experts in bus accidents that can analyze all of the information to pinpoint negligence and assign fault. Ultimately, if your case goes all the way to trial, our law firm has an expert trial team that is an industry leader in achieving large verdicts (including a $29 million verdict) and negotiating large settlements (several in excess of $10 million). They have the capability and resources to present your bus accident claim in the most emotionally impactful way possible to get you the monetary compensation you deserve.
As part of our liability analysis and strategy, we always seek to understand the full scope of the insurance situation on the other side, as it can often be layered and tricky when many companies and many plaintiffs are involved. There is also the possibility that companies that contract with each other will have indemnification and defense clauses that might try to reassign responsibility. All of this is highly technical and very important, which illustrates the need to seek the help of an experienced bus accident law firm in these matters.
What types of damages can I recover for my bus accident claim?
In addition to proving liability, you must prove your damages after a bus accident. “Damages” is a legal term that encompasses all the expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses you have suffered as a result of your bus crash in the past and in the future. These include the following:
- Medical costs
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage and loss-of-use of vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses, including medical insurance co-pays, and other items
- Retraining or re-education for job placement if you have suffered a disability
- All other expenses or lost opportunities you have incurred as a result of your bus accident
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death (loss of support, loss of companionship, loss of love, and many others)
- Loss of consortium (for the spouse of the injured victim)
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health illnesses
- All other non-economic loss that you suffered as a result of your bus crash
Proving damages often takes a coordinated effort between your medical team as well as life care planners, vocational experts, and accident reconstruction experts. We have the industry connections and resources to prove your damages and get you the compensation that you are owed.
How long does a bus injury case take?
Bus injury cases often take longer than other case types because they are typically complex, can involve a large number of plaintiffs and defendants, and have a lot of money at stake. In most jurisdictions, once you file a bus accident lawsuit the trial date will be set 12 to 18 months into the future, which typically marks the longest time frame your case could take. We always strive to push your case forward, which is a great benefit to you, but if your bus accident is filled with complex issues, there is a possibility your case may take longer than 12 to 18 months.
How does your law firm stand out from the other personal injury law firms?
The Dominguez Firm has handled thousands of bus accidents over our 30 plus years of service. We couple this experience with our compassionate, client-first approach for a winning formula. We apply our three founding principles —compassion, service and results — to every single case and every single client. We keep you informed, consult with you, and obtain your consent on important decisions. More than that, though, we stand by your side and help you throughout the entire process.
At the end of the day, results matter. Our law firm has won over $750,000,000* for our clients and a 96% success rate* that few can match. Our team of Los Angeles bus accident lawyers work tirelessly on your case and, if necessary, our award-winning trial team stands at the ready to take your serious injury case to trial.
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, it’s our mission to make things right and restore you to the life you had before their negligence harmed you. We hold responsible parties accountable for the injuries and loss they cause.
The Dominguez Firm has experienced bus injury lawyers ready to assist and get you the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered a bus injury accident, call us right now, 24/7, for a no-cost consultation at 800-818-1818. There is no obligation. If you don’t recover, there is no fee!
Helpful Articles From Our Los Angeles Bus Accident Attorneys
- Can You Sue Los Angeles Metro for a Bus Accident?
- What To Do If Your Child Is Injured On A School Bus
- California Bus Accident Laws
Other Bus Accident Resources