What Are the Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of bus accidents is increasing or remaining steady, depending on the year. Between 2016 and 2019, there was an average of 15,000 non-fatal injuries caused by bus accidents in the United States.

Fortunately, the rate of fatal crashes is decreasing steadily. In 1975, there were 323 fatal crashes involving buses. In 2019, there were 234. While 2020 saw the lowest fatality rates on record, that’s due to the fact that fewer buses were on the road during the COVID lockdowns.

The FMCSA report also noted that property damage caused by trucks and buses was increasing. In 2019, buses and trucks caused nearly half a million dollars in property damage.

An estimated 700 million people take a trip by bus yearly, and even those collisions involving buses make up a portion of total fatal accidents each year; the results are often tragic. Of the 60 thousand accidents that happen, many of those injured or killed are school children or teens.

But why do bus accidents happen? If you’re in a bus accident and you’re injured, what are your options? Can you sue the driver or their insurance provider for compensation? Let’s take a look. 

How to Get Compensated After a Bus Accident

Understanding the cause of the bus accident is the first step toward filing a successful claim for compensation. You’ll need to hire a local lawyer who’s familiar with the laws and regulations of your specific jurisdiction so you’re adequately represented if you settle or decide to go to trial.

For example, the lawyers at Boohoff Law can help Seattle citizens get compensation for damages caused by a bus accident. They’ll help you conduct an investigation of the accident site as soon as possible and gather evidence, such as surveillance footage and other records.

Always remember that time is of the essence. Don’t wait to make a claim after an accident, as there’s a chance you won’t be able to use certain evidence or contact credible witnesses.

The 4 Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents

Whether you’re planning a last-minute trip over the holidays or want to switch up your commute, traveling via bus is a good option. With that said, the following bus accidents happen often.

1. Bus Driver Negligence 

More bus-based accidents are caused by driver negligence than any other factor. Although bus drivers are being paid to offer a service, they may drive in a way that puts others at risk.

Here are a few things that contribute to bus driver negligence: 

  • Driving while tired
  • Distracted driving
  • Running lights or stop signs
  • Driving errors (i.e., speeding)
  • Driving under the influence

Since bus drivers are expected to transport passengers in larger-than-normal vehicles, they have a responsibility and legal duty that extends beyond a typical motorist. If they choose to act recklessly, especially under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they should be held accountable.

2. Bus Company Negligence 

Assessing fault after a bus accident can sometimes be tricky because a driver’s poor behaviors could be the result of their treatment. If a company neglects its employees, they’re more likely to drive in an unsafe way. They’re also responsible for performing extensive background checks.

Here are a few things that contribute to bus company negligence:

  • Forcing drivers to drive for long hours
  • Not checking the bus driver’s background
  • Not performing bus maintenance
  • Not enforcing substance abuse policies
  • Lack of bus driver training

If you were to speak to a lawyer after a bus accident, they’d likely investigate the bus driver as well as the company that hired them. Even in cases where the driver is at fault, the company could also be sued if there’s evidence they didn’t act fast enough to prevent the accident.

3. Found Bus Defects

Similar to a vehicle, all parts on a bus could be defective. The liable party in this case depends on who knew of the defect at the time. For example, if the company knew the bus had one or more defective parts, but they allowed it to be driven anyway, the company would be at fault.

On the other hand, if the company couldn’t have known the bus was defective, the fault lies with the manufacturers. It’s possible for a bus or its parts to be defective and go unnoticed, even after multiple trips to the mechanic. That’s why companies should keep all maintenance records.

4. Other Driver’s Negligence

Bus drivers aren’t always at fault for crashes. Negligent drivers often get themselves hurt when trying to pass big vehicles. For example, some drivers won’t yield, let bus drivers in their lane, or allow them to pass. Some drivers will stay in a bus’s blind spot and get hit during a merge.

Fortunately, the other driver’s fault is easy to prove in most cases because it often involves them doing something they aren’t supposed to. It can get muddy when both drivers are distracted.

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