In a car accident involving two personal vehicles, insurance companies assign fault to the driver of one of the vehicles. If someone in the other vehicle was injured, and the settlement amount offered by the insurance company is not sufficient to pay the injured party’s medical expenses, the injured person can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who was at fault. The plaintiff can recover damages in the legal case if the court determines that the plaintiff’s injuries are the direct result of negligence on the part of the defendant. When the driver at fault was driving a commercial vehicle, however, the defendant named in the lawsuit is often the company that owns the vehicle. Of course, it is possible that the true cause of the accident was something other than a driver’s negligence, for example, an unsafe road or one with inadequate signage to warn drivers of hazards. If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident, the best thing to do is to contact a personal injury attorney who deals with commercial vehicle accident lawsuits.
California Trucking Company Named as Defendant in Lawsuit After Highway Accident
On August 31, 2018, a semi truck on the interstate near Albuquerque, New Mexico experienced a tire failure and collided with a Greyhound bus, killing eight of the 49 people on the bus, including the driver. The truck was transporting produce from Fresno, California to Memphis, Tennessee, while the bus had stopped in Albuquerque on its way from St. Louis to Los Angeles. One of the surviving passengers gave birth to twins the day after the accident.
The families of two of the victims, one from Arizona and the other from Ohio, sued the California-based company that owns the semi-truck whose faulty tires caused the accident. In order to determine the details of what went wrong with the truck in the moments before its tire blew out, officials are trying to find a recording device in the truck that might give some indication. While airplanes have a “black box” for just this purpose, commercial trucks usually do not.
Failure to Maintain a Safe Vehicle Constitutes Negligence
It is likely that the plaintiffs have a strong case against the trucking company. Federal and state regulations have strict safety requirements for trucks and truck drivers. They limit truck drivers’ daily and weekly work hours and require drivers to take breaks during the workday. They also require frequent inspections of various parts of the truck, including its tires. If it is determined that the driver did not inspect his tires when required, or that he inspected them but failed to repair the unsafe tire, the trucking company will be required to pay damages to the plaintiffs’ families.
In California, personal injury attorneys see a number of bus accident types, including:
- School bus accidents. These accidents are one of the most difficult types of bus accident cases that attorneys handle, as they often involve young children who were injured or killed.
- Municipal transit bus accidents. Public transportation is an inexpensive way to get around, but when cities fail to maintain their buses or employ poorly trained drivers, accidents and injuries can be the result.
- Freight bus accidents. These commercial vehicles are designed to carry cargo but, when overloaded, they have the potential to become unpredictable and dangerous.
- Private, commercial, or charter bus accidents. Buses hired for tours, parties, and other excursions can be just as dangerous as public buses when improperly maintained or operated.
When passengers step onto a bus, they have every right to assume that it is being maintained and operated in accordance with federal safety regulation—regardless of whether the bus in question is a school bus, city bus, freight bus, or party bus.
Other common bus accident case types include:
- Bus-car collisions
- Bus-motorcycle crashes
- Bus-bus wrecks
- Bus-pedestrian accidents
- Bus breakdown injuries
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Thanks to human error and poor driving practices, when buses and other vehicles share the road, accidents are bound to happen. Unfortunately, many bus accidents could have been avoided had the bus's owner or driver taken the proper safety or maintenance precautions. Some of the most common bus accident causes related to bus owner or driver error include:
- Drunk or drugged driving. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can slow a driver's reaction time and put everyone on the road at risk.
- Drowsy driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits commercial drivers to 11 hours of driving time per day to prevent fatigue, which can be as impairing as consuming alcohol.
- Distracted driving. Bus drivers may drive for a living, but they are just as susceptible to distractions like talking or texting on their cell phone, eating or drinking, or using a navigational system as the average motorist.
- Inadequate bus maintenance. Even though the FMCSA requires commercial bus drivers to inspect the vehicle regularly and make repairs in a timely fashion, it does not always happen.
- Operating the bus during dangerous weather conditions. Even well-trained and experienced commercial bus drivers are wise to wait for severely inclement weather to pass.
Injuries Associated With Bus Accidents
Buses lack many of the safety features—such as seat belts and airbags—found in personal passenger vehicles. When a bus accident does occur—the injuries can be potentially devastating. Common injuries associated with bus accidents include:
- Whiplash injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head trauma, such as concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Damages Available for Bus Accident Victims
Bus accident victims who were injured through no fault of their own can pursue compensation for a wide variety of economic and non-economic damages related to the crash. Available damages may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident
- Ongoing medical treatment for accident-related injuries
- Rehabilitation costs
- Wages lost while recovering from injuries
- Loss of earning potential if the injuries are permanently disabling
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Criteria for Hiring an Attorney
It is wise to consult an attorney after being injured in an accident involving large commercial vehicles, such as a bus. This is because these types of accidents have the potential to cause extensive physical injuries and property damage. If the following statements apply to your case, it might be time to talk with an attorney:
- The bus accident happened less than 18 months ago.
- Medical expenses, property damage costs, and lost wages total more than $2,000.
- Another person's negligence caused the accident.
- If you were driving a vehicle (rather than riding on the bus), it sustained notable damage in the accident.
- You went to the hospital or saw a doctor immediately following the bus accident.
- You have seen your doctor regularly since the accident and followed all of his recommendations for treatment.
- Your injuries included broken bones or required surgery.
- The at-fault party has insurance.
Understanding Your Options: Settlement Versus Courtroom Trial
If you were injured in a bus accident that wasn't your fault, Case Barnett Law is prepared to do whatever is needed to ensure you receive the largest settlement possible—regardless of whether that is achieved during a vigorous negotiations process or by taking your case all the way to court. A courtroom trial can be lengthy, expensive, and stressful, but sometimes it is the only way to get victims the justice—and the compensation—they deserve. Here at Case Barnett, we will never push you to accept a settlement that isn't in your best interest to avoid going to trial.
Do you have questions about your bus accident case? Contact Case Barnett Law to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Contact Case Barnett Law About Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases
Commercial vehicle companies are required by law to uphold high standards of safety for their vehicles; to do otherwise is negligence. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle.