Houston Bus Accident Attorney
Choose a Top-Rated & Powerful Team to Protect Your Rights
At Arnold & Itkin, we are committed to the success of our clients, and we strive to help them recover in every possible way. Should you work with the attorneys from our law firm, you can be confident knowing you will have someone in your corner who is fully invested in your case. Just a few benefits of working with our legal team:
- We have recovered billions of dollars.
- Our cases have set records in several states.
- We treat our clients like family.
- You only pay our firm if we win your case!
The Dangers of Public Transportation & Bus Accidents
No type of vehicle accident is free of consequences—whether only a few scratches are incurred or catastrophic injuries result. This is particularly true of bus accidents. Bus accidents are likely to result in injuries to the parties involved, and there are almost always many parties involved. Bus passengers may sustain injuries due to:
- Lack of safety restraints
- Inadequately trained drivers
- Improperly maintained busses
- Negligent bus drivers
- Bus drivers under the influence
Bus mechanics can also contribute to accidents. Because these vehicles are so large, their brakes are under tremendous pressure and must be frequently examined and well-maintained. Unfortunately, many maintenance problems are ignored by bus operators so that the vehicles can continue their operations and not undercut company profits. Notably, when proper maintenance is neglected, additional stressors such as overloaded or crowded buses can cause or contribute to bus accidents and related injuries.
Why Injuries from Texas Bus Accidents Are Far Too Common
Per the U.S. Department of Transportation, bus accidents cause between 11,000 and 15,000 injuries per year. These injuries range in severity, although it is reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that there are around 300 fatalities every year caused by bus accidents. These numbers are far too high, especially when you consider how many communities rely on methods of public transportation. Buses are not only used for the transportation of the community at large but students too. Nearly 25 million children ride a school bus in the U.S. Nationwide, there are around 20 deaths per year caused by school bus accidents.
Factors in Serious Bus Accident Injuries
Despite the number of accidents, buses are not required to make any changes to their equipment to create a safer environment. It is not unheard of to travel on a bus that offers no seat belts. When there are “click it or ticket” laws all over the country, it doesn’t make sense to deny passengers the chance to buckle up on a bus.
Bus safety advocates have another concern: Not only do the majority of buses today not offer seat belts to their passengers, but the roofs placed on most tour buses don’t provide adequate protection in case of a rollover, nor do the windows have the proper glazed covering. When involved in an accident, top-heavy vehicles like a bus can flip on the road. Without adequate strength in the roof or windows, the possibility of roof crush increases—leading to more severe injuries. There have been recent cases about the dangers of “party buses,” in which preventable circumstances killed victims. One instance involved a girl who leaned against the inside of the bus and fell out of the emergency exit—a door that is supposed to have a particular lock on it to prevent accidental openings.
As a result of not requiring better safety equipment, thousands are injured or killed every year and millions are put at risk.
Highlighting the Issue with a 2007 Atlanta Bus Crash
In March 2012, the U.S. Senate approved bus safety legislation tightening requirements for bus drivers as well as the companies that operate the vehicles. The bill was introduced after a 2007 bus crash in Atlanta that killed seven people. In that accident, the bus driver accidentally drove the vehicle onto an exit ramp and crashed through a barrier wall, causing the bus to fall onto the highway below. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the accident placed blame on driver error and poor traffic signals.
Among other things, the bill requires bus designs to include seat belts and stronger seating systems to reduce the risk of injuries to passengers in the event of an accident. Investigators believe that fewer passengers would have died in the Atlanta accident had the bus been equipped with seat belts. The legislation also calls for more advanced training for bus drivers, and the installation of anti-ejection glazing windows, which can help reduce the risk of passengers being thrown from buses in the event of a collision or crash.
Crashes Involving School, City & Charter Buses
According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are designed to be safer than even passenger vehicles. Although this may be true, little is said regarding the safety of other drivers on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that school bus drivers are some of the most highly screened and well-trained drivers on the road. Their driving records are frequently checked, they are randomly tested for alcohol and drugs, and they are trained to perform emergency medical procedures.
While no system is foolproof, school buses are safer than most vehicles of their size on the road. Conversely, city buses, charter buses, and other types of buses are not held to as high of standards—making them dangerous commercial vehicles. For example, take city buses which operate on a strict deadline. It is the job of the bus driver to get their passengers to the next stop on time. Unfortunately, sometimes, this can come at the risk of safety.
Bus Driver Training
In order to become a bus driver, an individual must pass their CDL test. While the requirements differ for each state, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 did much to regulate the industry. All commercial vehicles are different, which is why depending on what the driver is going to drive, they have to pass additional tests.
Commercial drivers, such as individuals who drive buses, will also need to go through additional training and meet certain requirements. For example, because bus drivers interact with the people they are transporting, they will be tested for their people skills. Their hearing ability will also be tested to ensure that they can hear a forced whisper from five feet away without a hearing aid. Finally, their vision will be tested to ensure that it is at least 20/40.
Other important characteristics that a bus driver will be tested for include:
- Customer service
- Hand-eye coordination
- Physical health
For more information on the qualifications and standards for commercial drivers, click here.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bus Accident?
Unlike car accidents, it can be difficult to determine who is liable for a bus accident. The party liable is usually determined by analyzing the accident. Unfortunately, it's often the insurer or well-funded defendants who provide accident analysis, meaning the analysis is done by the people who want you to recover as little as possible.
Privately-Owned Bus Accident
Filing a claim against a privately-owned bus company is more complex than filing a claim for a car accident. There are multiple entities that could be found liable for any given bus accident. Often, multiple bus companies work together to provide transportation, necessitating a thorough investigation to make sure all potential defendants are included in the case. Discovering the conduct and policies that led to your crash requires experience, resources, and relentless effort—that's why hiring a seasoned bus accident attorney is vital for your case.
Private bus companies have contingency plans and strategies in place for claimants like you. They put pressure on plaintiffs, offering low-ball offers while investigating ways to relieve themselves of responsibility. Their investigators and insurers are incentivized to keep you from getting the money you deserve. The only way to fight back is to have investigators, adjusters, and expert witnesses in your corner. That's what Arnold & Itkin provides.
Government-Owned Bus Accident
Government bus accident claims are far different from private buses. For one, government entities can be more immune to lawsuits. In many cases, it is a challenge to recover compensation for damages because it is difficult to file a claim. Each state has different procedural rules for filing a claim against the government. For the most part, victims must file claims directly with the local entity responsible for operating the bus during the accident. Sometimes, multiple parties can be held responsible for contributory negligence, and if a private party is included on that list, you'll have more options at your disposal. Call us for a free review to learn what you can do.
The claim must state the following:
- The specific person, entity, or employee that was allegedly negligent
- A detailed description of the accident
- The victim’s name
- The case for the scope of damages the claim is for
After filing the claim, the government will review and will work with the victim to compensate for their injuries if the claim is accepted. If a bus accident victim wants to file a claim against the bus driver or government entity, he or she must file within six months after the accident. The statute of limitations can also be much shorter.
How Are Other Cars, Bicycle & Pedestrians Endangered?
During a bus accident, not only are passengers in danger, the safety and well being of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the road are jeopardized. While the large size of a bus perfectly serves the purpose of transporting many individuals at once, it also poses a problem for others on the road, particularly when it comes to an accident. There is a significant difference in size and weight when comparing a bus to a passenger vehicle. On the road, a bus could easily cause serious damage to the smaller, less heavy vehicle if they were to collide into each other.
Call a Houston Bus Crash Lawyer Today: (888) 493-1629
Unfortunately, recovering damages after being injured in a bus accident can be challenging. Many buses are owned or operated by government entities, making liability more complicated. Even if you have been injured on a privately owned bus, filing a bus accident complaint is nothing like dealing with the aftermath of a normal car accident. Deadlines to file required notices pass very quickly, often within days of the incident.
Arnold & Itkin is prepared to help.
We have successfully recovered billions in verdicts and settlements, and we know what it takes to help you do the same successfully. Bus accident victims should not suffer any more than they already have from their injuries, and we are here to make sure that everything possible is done to help prevent further pain and suffering.
Immediate action must be taken to preserve a claim against the responsible party. Call Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629 today.