Whether they are public transit buses for getting to work, school buses for taking your kids to class, commuter buses for going from town to town or charters for a specific group and purpose, like a bus for a run to one of our casinos, just about everyone in Louisiana has ridden on a bus at one time or another. And even if you haven’t ridden on one, you drive around them every day. Buses carry with them what is a startling level of risk, because of a number of factors, including driver error, fatigue or insufficient maintenance by the company that owns the bus.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), every year there are more than 6,000 bus accidents, leading to more than 300 fatalities and more than 15,000 injuries, many of them serious. It’s not just bus passengers who are injured; passengers and drivers of other vehicles are also at risk, as are pedestrians and bicyclists; everyone along the bus route is at potential risk in a bus accident.
When a bus accident happens, is it almost never the victim’s fault. In many cases, it may be the driver’s fault; they may have been distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone or by an in-depth conversation with a passenger or a dispatcher, or they may have been speeding or even driving while intoxicated. They may have driven more than the maximum number of hours allowed by federal regulations and they’re fatigued.
In most cases, buses, especially charter and tour buses, are run by private companies, who are considered by Louisiana and federal law to be “common carriers,” with a greater level of responsibility than other drivers. They are required by law to operate carefully and protect their passengers, as well as the others on the road. Thankfully, in those cases, establishing liability is relatively easy. On the other hand, if the bus is owned and operated by a governmental body or authority, like a transit or school district, it can be a little harder to prove liability.
There are a number of possible ways to establish liability against not just the driver and the bus company, but against a number of other potentially responsible parties. As the accident is being investigated, issues such as driver experience, licensing and health issues may come into play, but there may also be maintenance issues or manufacturing defects to consider. You will also have to factor in that the bus company and their insurance carrier will be doing everything they can to protect themselves and their driver and to make the case look like it’s your fault.
Regardless of your role as the victim of an accident with a bus, whether you were a bus passenger, a passenger or driver of another vehicle, a pedestrian, a motorcyclist or a bicyclist, if you have been injured, you need a qualified and highly experienced bus accident attorney on your side to fight the bus company and their insurance carrier and get the compensation you deserve. Contact Hoffoss Devall today for a free consultation, so that we can begin the complete investigation into your accident.