The Los Angeles Metro, the Amtrak Thruway bus, and the local public bus lines are all excellent ways to navigate crowded cities. You do not have to drive or pay for parking, and you can multitask during your commute. You have the right to assume that a bus is safe for travel and that the company and driver are protecting passengers adequately.
Unfortunately, cities in California are not immune to traumatic bus accidents. Contact Haffner Law if you or a loved one were recently involved in a bus accident anywhere in California. Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can assist you in asserting your rights as an injured victim. Our law office is always accessible.
Why Do I Need a Bus Accident Lawyer in California?
You may file your bus accident claim on your own if you prefer. However, a bus company’s insurer will typically attempt to minimize their client’s fault in the accident, thereby reducing the amount you can recover. You may have difficulty negotiating on your own, particularly if you lack sufficient evidence. Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can help turn the tide in your favor.
We Can Search for Evidence
Bus owners and operators are required by both federal and state law to ensure that their vehicles are in good condition and therefore safe to operate. In addition to training, drivers are limited to a certain number of hours behind the wheel.
Our personal injury attorney can independently investigate the other party’s liability. We can check for violations of California’s bus-related laws, such as reckless driving or DUIs because we are already familiar with them. We can also assist you in compiling documentation of the damages you sustained. Proof of unlawful conduct, medical records, repair invoices, etc., will strengthen your claim and increase your chances of receiving compensation.
We Can Represent You Before Insurers or in Court
Using all available evidence to bolster your claim, our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer will negotiate with the opposing party and their insurance company on your behalf. If negotiations with the insurer fail, we can also help you bring your case to court if necessary.
Call us at any time at Haffner Law. Our law office can connect you with our skilled personal injury attorney who handles bus accident claims.
What Does “Common Carrier” Mean According to California Law?
Under California law, both public and private bus transportation providers are considered common carriers. Common carriers:
- Transporting passengers or goods from one location to another
- Are available to the public
- Charge a fee for transporting their goods
Since bus transportation is a paid service, bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers. Providers of bus transportation are required to provide:
- Safe access for passengers entering and exiting the bus
- Protection of bus passengers
- Protection of bus passengers from harm, including harm caused by fellow passengers
- Employee screening and training procedures
- Maintenance of the safety of the buses
Those bus companies that fail to protect their passengers in this manner can be held liable for any resulting damages. Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can assist victims in holding negligent transportation companies accountable.
Are Seat Belts Required on California Buses?
Seat belts are required on all new commercial buses as of 2018, per California law. The California Senate Bill 20 mandates that all bus passengers over the age of eight wear a seatbelt. Failure to comply results in a corresponding fine.
In addition, Section 27316 of the California Vehicle Code mandates that all school buses purchased or leased after 2005 must be fitted with seat belts. Bus companies are required to maintain seat belts in good working order on all buses. And bus drivers must inform passengers before each trip that they must wear their seat belts.
We at Haffner Law applaud these laws, as the use of a seat belt in any motor vehicle is essential for reducing the risk of injury or death in the event of an accident.
What Are the Most Common Causes of California Bus Accidents?
Common causes of bus accidents in California include inadequate training, fatigued, intoxicated, or distracted drivers, reckless drivers surrounding the bus, poor maintenance, and road and weather conditions. Let’s examine each of these in turn:
A bus driver with inadequate training is a danger to everyone on the road. Buses have extensive blind spots and wide turns. If a bus driver has inadequate training, they may cause an accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian.
Some bus drivers work long hours, especially on long-distance charter buses. The inattentiveness of a drowsy driver may increase the likelihood of a collision or rollover accident.
Intoxicated or Distracted Driver
If a driver is impaired by alcohol or distracted by a cell phone, they will lack the necessary reaction time to transport their passengers safely.
Other motorists can also behave irresponsibly. Failure to yield to a bus is typically catastrophic for the driver of the other vehicle, but their irresponsibility could result in a much larger and more fatal collision for those on the bus.
Poor Bus Upkeep
A tire blowout, brake failure, or ignition problem could cause a bus to abruptly stop, resulting in a catastrophic accident.
Weather and Road Conditions
When approaching a curb to pick up passengers, inclement weather such as snow or rain can cause buses to slide. In addition, road conditions such as potholes can result in blown tires, which could lead to a bus crash.
What Are the Different Types of Bus Accidents?
Public Transportation Collisions
A city, county, state, or another form of regional authority can manage a public bus. The bus accident victim may file a claim against the negligent bus driver and the government agency responsible for operating the bus line if a bus accident was caused by a negligent bus driver.
Tour Bus Collisions
California is a popular tourist destination, particularly in cities such as Los Angeles. Typically, tour buses are filled with tourists who want to explore popular cities to learn about their history and culture. The tour bus driver is required to maintain a pace that allows tourists to enjoy the city’s attractions.
If the tour bus driver engages in illegal behavior, such as speeding or disregarding traffic regulations, they will be held liable for any damages caused by a bus accident. A tour bus company may also be held liable for an accident if it failed to follow legally mandated responsibilities, such as conducting a thorough inspection of the tour bus or hiring qualified tour bus drivers.
Bus Stop Collisions
Those who have sustained injuries at a bus stop will be able to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party. The majority of accidents at bus stops have been caused by careless drivers. It is up to the victim to collect convincing evidence to prove that the driver was liable for damages. The following elements of negligence must be presented in a claim for personal injury:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant failed to exercise the duty of care
- The plaintiff suffered injuries and damages as a result of the defendant’s carelessness
A bus stop’s location could also be hazardous. If a bus stop, for instance, was placed in an area where multiple serious or fatal accidents have been reported or situated in such a perilous area could increase the likelihood of additional injuries and fatalities.
The government agency responsible for planning the location of this bus stop could be held liable for personal injury if it allows the bus stop to continue operating in a dangerous location.
What Are the Common Injuries in Bus Accidents?
Generally speaking, utilizing a bus as a mode of transportation is a reasonably safe option. However, when bus accidents do occur, they frequently result in catastrophic injuries with long-term consequences. Some of the injuries you may have sustained if you were a passenger or driver in a bus accident are as follows:
- Bone Fractures
- Cuts or Lacerations
- Whiplash Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Head Trauma and Brain Injury
- Catastrophic Injury
If you have been injured in a bus accident, you must seek medical attention immediately. Contact a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer from one of California’s premier law firms immediately.
What Should You Do Following a Bus Accident in California?
If you have been involved in a bus accident, you must take the necessary steps to ensure your health, safety, and bus accident claim. Here are some important steps for what to do after a bus accident:
Report the Incident
Call the police immediately and report the accident. The police will collect accident-related information and file a report. The police report is a crucial document that your personal injury attorney will use to build your bus accident case. Verify in a report that you were a passenger on the bus involved in the accident.
Seek Medical Assistance
One of the initial steps you should take is to ensure that you and your loved ones receive prompt medical attention. Sometimes, you may not experience symptoms immediately after an accident, but they may manifest days, weeks, or months later. After a bus accident, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention and receive a complete diagnosis from a medical professional.
Collect as Many Details as Possible
Collect witness information, including the bus driver’s name and badge number, the bus company’s name, and the bus’s license plate number. Don’t forget to take photographs of the accident scene, injuries, and property damage.
Additionally, be sure to collect the names and contact information (name, phone number, email address) of any passengers or bystanders who witnessed the accident.
Record Specifics of the Accident
Date, time, traffic conditions, weather conditions, and any other pertinent information regarding the accident should be recorded. As time passes, your memory of the bus accident may begin to fade, making it more challenging to recall what transpired on that day.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Do not speak with any bus company or insurance company representatives. Instead, contact our accomplished Los Angeles bus accident lawyer immediately about your accident. There are numerous legal requirements involved in bus accident cases, and any mistake could compromise your ability to receive compensation for your injuries.
In addition, limitation periods restrict the amount of time you have to file a claim. After the statute of limitations has expired, it is unlikely that you will be able to file a lawsuit.
Who Can File a Bus Accident Injury Claim in California?
There are typically more people involved in bus collisions than in accidents involving private vehicles. The following parties may file a claim following a bus accident:
- Other drivers
- Bus passengers
- The families of those who died in a bus accident
Many individuals are unsure of how liability is determined in a bus accident. For instance, if you are injured as a bus passenger in a collision with another vehicle, you may wonder whether you can file a claim against the bus company, the other driver, or both.
The answer is that bus collisions function similarly to other accidents, and injured parties may file a claim against any party at fault. However, there may be multiple at-fault parties in bus collision cases, so it is in your best interest to discuss your options with a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer.
Who Can I Sue for My Bus Accident Injuries in California?
After bus accidents, determining liability is frequently more difficult than after collisions involving regular vehicles. In addition to the driver, numerous other parties may be responsible for your damages, and multiple parties may share a portion of the blame.
Haffner Law’s bus accident lawyer in Los Angeles will review the evidence to determine who may be liable for your damages. These parties could consist of:
The Bus Company
If the bus company failed to ensure the safety of its vehicle, such as by replacing worn-out tires and maintaining the brakes, and this led to your accident, you can sue the bus company for your damages. Additionally, bus companies must train and supervise their drivers. They may be held liable if an employee’s negligence causes an accident.
The Operator of the Tour Bus
If a person is injured while riding a tour bus as part of a tour package, the bus operator may be held liable for damages.
The Bus Maintenance Provider
If your collision was caused by a mechanical failure, the company responsible for maintaining the bus, if it was an independent contractor hired by the bus company, may be liable for your damages.
The Government Agency
If a government-owned bus was involved in your accident or if a government employee was at fault, you can file a claim against the government. If the accident was caused by poor road conditions, a government entity may also be liable for your damages.
The Bus Driver
If a bus driver’s violation of a traffic law caused your accident, you may have a case against the bus driver. However, in the majority of cases, bus companies are held liable for their employee’s negligence.
The Manufacturer of the Auto Parts
If a defective auto part caused your accident, you may have grounds for a claim against the part’s manufacturer, designer, or distributor.
If another driver caused your accident, you can file a claim for damages against that driver.
Members of the School Board
Victims may file a claim against the school board if an accident is caused by a school bus driver employed by the school board.
If you are not sure who to name as the defendant in your case, speak to our personal injury attorney from Haffner Law for counsel.
Can I File a Claim for a Deceased Family Member Killed in a Bus Accident?
By filing a wrongful death claim, surviving family members of a victim killed in a bus accident may be entitled to damages. Nonetheless, not everyone can submit a claim. Only certain family members are eligible to file a claim for compensation, including:
- The surviving spouse
- The surviving domestic partner
- The deceased’s offspring
- The decedent’s grandchildren
- Anyone else entitled to inherit the deceased’s property under California’s laws of intestate succession
The passing of a loved one is a traumatic experience. If you have lost a loved one in a bus accident, you should seek the counsel of a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer to help you through this difficult time. Our legal counsel will advocate for:
- Funeral and cemetery costs
- Lost wages and earnings
- Loss of familial assistance
What About VTA Bus-Involved Accidents?
If you were involved in a collision with a Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus, you may wonder how the fact that the government agency was operating the bus may affect your case. Although it is possible to file a claim after a collision caused by a VTA bus driver, you have only six months from the date of the collision, as opposed to the usual two years, to do so.
The California Tort Claims Act governed claims against California agencies and government departments. Claims against public entities are subject to special requirements and different statutes of limitations than claims against private parties.
Are California Bus Accidents Covered by Liability Insurance?
Buses are a form of a common carrier, which means they are contracted to transport passengers from one location to another. Therefore, bus companies are responsible for paying for accidents involving their vehicles and drivers who are adequately insured.
Due to this, California requires bus companies to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover accidents that injure passengers and others. The insurance coverage for buses varies based on the type of bus and its intended use. There are two primary types of liability insurance – bodily injury insurance and property damage insurance.
If the driver of a standard motor vehicle (or a third party) is determined to be liable for a bus accident, the driver’s liability auto insurance may pay for the accident rather than the bus company’s insurer. Typically, both companies will work together to compensate for passenger injuries. If you were not at fault for the bus accident or were a bus passenger, one or more insurance policies will cover your injuries.
Our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can assess your case thoroughly and locate all available insurance coverage on your behalf.
What Damages Can I Recover for My California Bus Accident Claim?
If you have been injured in a bus accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. You will need the legal advice of our personal injury attorney. We will evaluate your case to determine the monetary and non-monetary damages you are entitled to.
- Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that can be easily quantified in monetary terms. It is determined by calculating the amount of out-of-pocket losses an injured party has incurred or can anticipate incurring as a result of their injuries. These include medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages are intended to compensate for subjective losses but will not necessarily cover monetary losses. This could include compensation for loss of life enjoyment, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages are the third type of damages a California court may award. Punitive damages are intended as a form of punishment and are awarded only when a defendant’s conduct is particularly harmful.
How Long Do You Have to File a California Bus Accident Claim?
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a standard auto accident lawsuit is two years (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1). This statute stipulates a strict filing deadline for personal injury claims. Generally speaking, if you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to compensation and liability for a bus accident.
This is why it is imperative to contact our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer immediately.
Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm Today for a Free Case Review
If you were involved in a bus accident in California, likely, an insurance company representing the bus company or the driver at fault has offered you a settlement. We understand that accepting this offer could be tempting. Ultimately, it may appear simpler to put the entire ordeal behind you.
However, this initial settlement offer is frequently inadequate to cover all of your damages. It is essential to remember that insurance companies have one objective – settling cases for the least amount of money possible. They could be working against you. In contrast, our Los Angeles bus accident lawyer is on your side.
We will investigate your collision and see to it that justice is served. For years, Haffner Law has fought for victims of car accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents. We’ve encountered insurance company strategies before, and we have the means and knowledge to fight them in court.
Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will not rest until our clients achieve success. And our results speak for themselves. We’ve secured a multitude of settlements for our clients. After a bus accident, you should not be concerned about how you will recover your losses, let us worry on your behalf to secure the legal outcome to which you are entitled. Call Haffner Law today to get legal advice from a member of our legal team through our free case review.