Due to the high volume of traffic and increased number of motor coaches in California, bus accidents occur frequently. Whether it is a tour bus, school bus, or public transport bus, these vehicles are enormous, and an accident involving them will result in serious injuries or even death. Vehicle safety is an essential aspect of transportation, and bus drivers or companies are responsible for ensuring that the passengers in the vehicle and other road users are safe. Since most bus accidents result from negligence from one of these parties, victims of a bus accident are entitled to compensation for their injuries in a civil lawsuit. 

Battling a civil claim can be a challenge, especially when dealing with the injuries from the accident. Therefore, it is crucial to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as the accident occurs. At Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Law Firm, we employ our skills and experience to guide you through the claim and ensure the best possible outcome. We serve clients requiring legal guidance and representation to navigate personal injury claims in Sacramento, CA.

Overview of Bus Accidents in California

When compared to other forms of transportation, buses are considered safer. However, when accidents happen, they are often very catastrophic. Due to their size and capacity, buses are more difficult to maneuver and easily lose control. When a bus is involved in a collision with other vehicles or pedestrians, the resulting injuries are very serious. While some accidents are unpredictable, many bus accidents stem from drivers’ negligence or other road users. Fortunately, all individuals who suffer injuries in a bus accident have a right to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for their injuries.

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

When the individuals involved in bus transportation fail to exercise the highest level of care to protect their passengers, serious accidents can occur. Understanding the root cause of your accident will help identify the liable parties and make your quest for compensation easier. The following are some common causes of bus accidents in California:

Driver Error

While the driver is not always liable for a bus accident, driver error significantly contributes to bus accidents. Common forms of driver error include:

  • Distracted Driving. Driver distraction is any activity or event which takes away the driver’s physical and mental focus from the vehicle. Many distractions could cause a driver not to pay attention to the road, one of which is the use of a cellphone. Whether texting while driving or reaching out to take a call, using a cellphone could distract the driver and increase the risk of a collision. Other forms of driver distraction may include eating or grooming while behind the Wheel.

  • Drunk Driving. Driving under drug or alcohol influence is a criminal offense, but it also endangers the life of the driver and other road users. When a driver is intoxicated, their judgment and perception of distance or speed are impaired. Additionally, the driver may be easily distracted, resulting in a collision with other vehicles or obstacles on the road.

  • Driver fatigue. Bus drivers who fail to take the necessary breaks or have enough sleep may become tired and sleepy while driving. A tired driver acts similar to a drunk driver in that their perception and coordination are impaired.

  • Failure to Yield the Right of way. On California roads, drivers are expected to drive safely and obey all the road rules. Thru right of way refers to who has a legal priority to move first at a certain road point. For the traffic to flow smoothly, each driver must yield the right of way. Some of the common parts of the road where you must yield the right of way are at intersections and when leaving a private road. When a bus driver fails to yield the right of way, they could collide with other vehicles.

  • Speeding. When bus driver faces delays when picking up or dropping passengers, they may be tempted to over-speed. Buses are heavy vehicles and have difficulty stopping or maneuvering around. When a bus IA at high speed, it can be challenging to stop during an emergency. Speed is a dangerous and significant factor in many California bus accidents.

Faulty Vehicle Part

There are times when a bus accent does not result from the driver’s conduct. Defective vehicle parts could cause the vehicle to malfunction and cause a serious accident. Some of the most common vehicle part defects known to cause accidents are:

  • Defective steering. Most new vehicles come with power steering. However, when the power steering fails, the driver finds it challenging to control the vehicle and may be unable to stop when needed.

  • Electrical and computer systems. With the improvement in technology, new vehicles are more computerized, and they depend on numerous systems to function correctly. A malfunction in these systems can cause the vehicle to shut down while on the road.

  • Defective tires. Tires provide balance for the vehicle. Defects such as separation, wear and tear, or a blowout could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle and ram into other vehicles on the road.

  • Defective airbags. Airbags are an essential safety feature that provides the driver and front-seat passengers with a cushion in case of a crash. When the airbag is defective or fails to deploy, the vehicle occupants could suffer serious injuries.

  • Faulty braking systems and a defective brake are difficult problems that could prevent the driver from effectively stopping a vehicle. While a bus driver is expected to inspect the vehicle before ferrying passengers, a case of faulty brakes could be blamed on the brake manufacturers.

Poor Road Conditions

When we think of traffic accidents and bad collisions, we think that the collision may result from driver error or defective vehicle parts. However, an accident may be caused by external factors like poor road conditions. A poorly designed, unmaintained, or generally dangerous road contributes to many accidents. When the relevant authorities fail to monitor or maintain the roads, the condition could deteriorate, causing potholes and other dangerous situations.

Another way in which road conditions can result in an accident is the presence of unauthorized construction sites. From time to time, roads require repairs. However, when a construction zone is not marked distinctively, a driver could be distracted and confused, causing them to collide with other vehicles.

If you are injured in a bus accident resulting from poor road conditions, you can file a lawsuit against the relevant city authorities. Filing a civil lawsuit against a government entity can be challenging. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is crucial.

Unfavorable Climatic Conditions

There are many ways in which climate change can contribute to bus accidents. Climate conditions like heavy rains, fog, or snow could make the road slippery and decrease visibility. With poor visibility, the bused rivet may be unable to spot obstacles on the road and hit them.

Proving Liability in a California Personal Injury Claim

When you are injured in a bus accident in California, you are entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. You need to be at fault in an accident to have a valid claim. The party liable for the accident will be held responsible for compensating all the victims. In California, liability for auto accidents s based on negligence.

The State of California relies on pure comparative negligence when determining liability for the bus accident. This means that the driver’s percentage of fault for each driver will determine the amount of compensation you recover. Negligence is the reckless disregard for the safety of other people and is based on the following elements:

Duty of Care

A duty of care is that all drivers exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injuries to other road users. Drivers must exercise their duty by obeying all traffic rules, maintaining their vehicles in good condition, and driving safely. Before you can recover compensation in a bus accident, it must be clear that the fault party owed you a duty of care. Whether or not there was a duty of care is determined by the court depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Breach of Duty

Proving another driver’s negligence in a bus accident is more complicated than proving that another person wed you a duty of care. A person breaches their duty of care towards you by engaging in conduct that puts you at risk of harm. Some instances that depict a breach of duty include driving under alcohol influence, speeding, and failing to obey traffic rules.

If your accident results from faulty bus parts, you can prove that the bus part manufacturers breached their duty of care towards you by producing or selling substandard products. The breach of duty in accidents resulting from poor road conditions is the failure of the relevant authorities to perform their duty of repairing the roads.

The Defendant’s Conduct Caused Your Injuries

After proving that the defendant breached their duty of care towards you, you may establish a link between their conduct and your injuries. While the defendant’s conduct might not have been the actual cause of your injuries, it should be a significant factor in the accident.

Damages Resulting from the Accident

The key aim of filing a personal injury claim after a bus accident is to recover compensation for the losses resulting from the accident. Therefore, you will need to prove the injuries and losses you have suffered. Typical damages in a bus accident include the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and lost future earnings. To prove these damages, you will need to collect all the relevant evidence at the accident scene and the events that followed. 

Proving the elements of negligence can be challenging since the defendant will have their version of events and probably evidence to support it. Therefore, enlisting the services of a skilled personal injury attorney is crucial.

Wrongful Death in a Bus Accident

Bus accidents can be catastrophic, especially those involving small vehicles or pedestrians. Losing a loved one in a negligent car accident can be devastating. Fortunately, California law allows you to recover compensation for the death by filing a wrongful death claim. Often a wrongful death claim allows the dependents and family members of the deceased to recover the losses they have incurred from the death. 

Navigating a wrongful death claim can be quite complicated because the primary witness is not available to provide their account of events. Therefore, it is vital to enlist the services of a personal injury attorney to navigate such a claim. Some of the damages you can recover from a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses.

  • Financial support that the deceased would have offered their family if they survived the accident.

  • The value of household services that the deceased loved one would have provided.

  • Loss of consortium. This is the loss of love, affection, and companionship that the deceased would have provided.

There are situations where you may combine a survival action with a wrongful death claim. This type of lawsuit allows you to receive compensation for the losses you would have recovered if they survived the accident. Some of the damages that are recoverable in a survival action include:

  • Medical expenses that the deceased incurred from the bus accident injuries.

  • Lost wages.

  • Punitive damages.

Compensation for wrongful death may not be able to wipe out the grief of losing a loved one. However, it helps lessen the financial burden associated with death. There isn’t a specific amount that one can recover from this type of lawsuit since compensation varies depending on the circumstances of the case. Some of the factors that could influence the amount you recover in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • The victim’s age at the time of death.

  • The ages of the victim’s children or dependents.

  • Whether or not the victim’s spouse was entirely dependent on the deceased.

  • The value of inheritance that the victims loved ones would have received.

  • The victim’s contribution to the accident.

The insurance company could either pay in a lump sum or a structured settlement during a wrongful death claim settlement. A lump-sum payment is made all at once and is particularly beneficial when you have considerable expenses to cover. On the other hand, a structured settlement is made in installments. Once the agreement regarding the installments is made, it cannot be changed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bus Accident Lawsuits in California

Due to their nature and severity, involvement in a bus accident can be devastating. After the accident, you may be left confused, not knowing how to recover from the losses that accompany the accident injuries. The following are some frequently asked questions about bus accidents:

  1. What is the statute of limitations for a California Bus Accident Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for any auto accident claim in California is two years. However, filing a claim against a government bus operator should be done within six months of the accident. While failure to file the claim within the set amount of time could result in the dismissal of your case, the court could make exceptions if the accident resulted in mental incompetence, which made it difficult for you to file a claim. If the bus accident victim is a minor, they have until their eighteenth birthday to file a claim and recover compensation.

  1. What are my rights as a pedestrian who is hit by a bus?

Due to the size of the bus, a bus accident involving pedestrians results in serious injuries or even death. As a pedestrian who suffers a bus accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. You can file a claim against the bus driver, the bus operations, or the bus part manufacturers depending on the exact cause of the accident.

  1. What should I do after a bus accident?

Your actions following a bus accident in California could significantly impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Some of the tips that could help increase your chances of fair compensation include:

  • Seek medical care. Bus accidents are often catastrophic, and you will likely suffer an injury even in minor accidents. While battling out for compensation is essential after the accident, your health should be prioritized. Seeking immediate medical attention helps detect all injuries. Additionally, the medical records act as a substantial piece of evidence in your lawsuit.

  • Call the police. After a bus accident, it is crucial to call law enforcement officers at the scene. The police officers assess the scene and take all the necessary steps to ensure that the involved parties do not escape. The officers will also write a report on their assessment, and you can use it as proof of liability in your case.

  • Collect all the relevant information. The process of recovering compensation for a bus accident is challenging. Your compensation claim must be accompanied by sufficient evidence. Some of the most crucial information in such a claim can be found at the accident scene. When everybody has left the scene, this information could be lost, causing a weakness in your claim. Some of the evidence you can collect includes photos or a video of your accident scene.

  1. At what point in the bus accident should I call my lawyer?

Seeking legal guidance is a vital step in navigating a car accident claim. Therefore, contacting your injury attorney should be one of the first steps after the accident. Your lawyer will advise you on the steps to take and how to act to avoid compromising your claim. Additionally, the attorney will guide you through the case to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries. 

  1. How much can I recover from a bus accident lawsuit?

There is no limit to the amount you can recover from a bus accident personal injury lawsuit. However, the specific amount you can receive will depend on:

The Value of your Economic Damages

Economic damages make up most of a bus accident settlement. Economic damages will include the medical bills you incurred from treating the accident injuries and the lost wages, which is the amount you lost in earnings. When your injuries are severe, you may be able to recover compensation for lost earning capacity, which is the inability to work and earn a living in the future.

Value of Non-economic Damages

Even when you do not suffer substantial injuries, being involved in a bus accident can be traumatizing. While you cannot quantify the pain and anguish caused by accident, you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Additionally, you can be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life and lost consortium from your loved one’s injuries.

What should I do if a loved one dies in a bus accident?

It is not uncommon for bus accidents to result in death. Losing a loved one to another person’s negligence could be life-changing. Fortunately, you can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for the losses resulting from the death. A wrongful death claim in California allows you to recover compensation for burial and funeral expenses. Additionally, you can be compensated for the medical expenses incurred by the deceased after the accident. Filing a wrongful death claim is complicated. Therefore, it would be wise to proceed with legal guidance.

Find a Competent Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Involvement in a bus accident is devastating. Whether you were a passenger in the bus, an occupant of a smaller vehicle or a pedestrian hit by a bus, injuries resulting from such accidents could be serious. If the bus accident results from negligence from another driver or a road user, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. By filing a personal injury claim against the person or people liable for the accident, you can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain resulting from the accident injuries.

At Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Law Firm, we understand how serious the injuries resulting from a bus accident can impact your life. Therefore, we will guide you through the process of filing a claim and recovering maximum compensation for your injuries. If you are battling a bus accident claim contact us today at 916-313-4859 to discuss your claim.