If you use public transportation, you know that riding in a large motor vehicle is different from using a standard car. A bus is not only big but also its safety precautions and standards are different. That means the injuries suffered after the accident are more serious. Additionally, the accident can involve multiple parties. Every day, thousands of people become bus accident statistics in Jacksonville. If you suffer an injury or lose a loved one, you don't have to go through this alone. The legal team at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can represent you and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
How Common Are Bus Accidents?
Most people do not consider bus accident statistics until a high-profile accident is on television. Nevertheless, government regulatory agencies and other agencies have been compiling data on bus accidents for many years. These statistics include (please note the statistics include tour buses, school buses, and all other commercial buses):
The National Transportation Safety Board reported that about seven hundred passengers use buses every year. While most of the passengers traveled safely, about two hundred and fifty passengers died, and twenty thousand sustained injuries in 2009. The report also indicated that bus accidents caused one thousand three hundred and fifteen deaths and three thousand and five hundred injuries between 2000 and 2007.
According to the Journal of Safety Research (2012), young bus motorists increase the risk of severe bus accidents the same way drivers above 55 years of age do. A bus driver who is above sixty-five years has the highest risk of causing an accident. Additionally, the study discovered that in above eighty percent of bus accidents, the driver wasn't engaged in risky conduct.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that approximately sixty-three thousand buses were involved in accidents in 2010 alone. Charter buses and inter-city buses are more likely to get involved in accidents.
Bus accidents can be due to numerous circumstances like improper lane changing or failing to yield the right of way. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency tasked with truck and bus safety regulations, reports that there are approximately eight hundred thousand registered buses in the United States. Buses have extended heights, making their center of gravity higher compared to other motor vehicles. Together with their weight, this characteristic makes buses more likely to roll over when involved in a crash. Often these accidents cause severe injuries since passengers could be thrown from their seats.
Bus accidents cause injuries and claim thousands of lives in the United States annually. If you are a Florida resident, you are, particularly, at an increased risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that Sunshine State is among the top ten states with the most severe bus accidents.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles goes ahead to report the following statistics in 2016:
- There were forty-one thousand two hundred and thirty-five bus and truck-related collisions
- Seven thousand three hundred and three injuries were reported
From the above figures, it can be concluded that:
- Bus collisions happen annually with some degree of regularity
- A driver's age plays a significant role in determining the likelihood of being involved in a bus accident
- A bus accident can cause death and injuries to all road users
Types of Bus Accidents
Discussed below are different categories of bus accidents:
It is all parents' nightmare, and responsible parents put their children's safety a priority. Every single day, thousands of children throughout Jacksonville ride school buses. Nevertheless, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the number of school bus collisions in Sunshine State is increasing. There has been a sixteen percent increase in school bus collisions in Florida between 2012 and 2015. In 2015 alone, there were 2,698 accidents reported.
It is worth noting that the accidents happen both on the school buses and at the bus stop. Moreover, there have been injuries and fatalities during off-loading and loading.
Not every school bus accident is due to their drivers' fault. A driver might fail to comply with a school bus stop signal at a bus stop or go out of their way to pass a school bus. The school bus motorist should report any negligent driver.
According to School Transportation News, four student pedestrians died in 2017 in school bus-related accidents (but not at the time of unloading and loading). While three (3) students were hit by a school bus as they were walking near or crossing the road, one student was hit after a school bus had dropped them at a bus stop and left.
Tour Bus Accident
Several tour bus companies operate in Jacksonville and across neighboring state lines. It includes local routes used by guests to tourist attractions and casinos and long-distance buses. Many of these companies push motorists to keep tight time schedules, drive for many hours, and operate buses that are not well-maintained.
When a negligent driver causes your injury, the tour company can be held accountable. Although the driver is directly liable, the company can be responsible if the operator was negligent in training, supervising, or hiring the motorist.
Public Transportation Bus Accident
These involve accidents caused by buses that are operated by the state, county, city or any regional agency in Florida.
What are the Common Causes of Bus Accidents?
A wide range of things can result in a bus accident, and most of them are preventable. They include:
Every day you get into a bus, the odds are you will encounter a speeding motorist. According to the Insurance Information Institute, almost seventy percent of traffic accidents and twenty-six percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2017 were due to speeding. The definition of speeding is simple, but there is more than operating a motor vehicle above the speed limit. Driving too fast for the road condition might be hazardous, even if a motorist is driving below the posted speed. For instance, while driving at 55mph is safe on a sunny day, the same speed could cause a catastrophic accident in the rain.
Why is speeding hazardous?
- It reduces a motorist's reaction time
- Excessive speeding increases the time a motorist requires to stop
- It interferes with the effectiveness of safety devices
According to a report released by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in 2016, distracted driving caused more than five hundred accidents and two hundred and thirty-three deaths. The 2017 survey reported that Florida was the second-worst state in the U.S as far as distracted driving is concerned.
Distracted driving can occur when anything causes a bus driver to take their hands off the wheel, their mind off driving, or eyes off the road. It's risky since it puts all road users in danger. There are three main types of driving distractions, namely:
Activities that can lead to distracted driving include:
- Cell phone use
- Reading billboards
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting climate controls, GPS or stereo
- Reading maps, books, or documents
A blind spot exists in all motor vehicles, and the larger a vehicle is, the more pronounced the blind spot. It can be defined as a zone that exists when you're looking at your side or rearview mirror and can't see another car approaching you from behind. According to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2019, more than five hundred thousand accidents resulted from blind spots between 2015 and 2019. The collisions caused more than 500 deaths and one hundred and eighty-eight thousand injuries.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also estimated that blind spots contribute to fourteen percent of all traffic accidents involving large motor vehicles. A blind spot causes a problem when a bus motorist is merging into traffic, turning, or changing lanes.
Influence of Alcohol
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle 2017 annual report indicates that there were five thousand one hundred and twenty-five accidents due to drunk driving. The records show the accidents and injuries decreased by 16.7 percent and 3.96 percent, respectively, compared to 2017.
Driving under the influence is a form of negligence, and the at-fault party should be held accountable. However, you must prove that:
- The bus driver owed you a duty of care.
- The driver breached the duty of care.
- You were injured as a result.
All motorists should carry personal insurance protection. Florida is a no-fault state, and victims should rely on their insurance provider for compensation. However, in most DUI bus accidents, injuries sustained are significant, and the liability limits are not adequate to cover lost wages, ongoing care needs, and medical expenses.
That is the reason many victims file claims with defendants' insurers. It is also essential to engage a seasoned personal injury attorney throughout the process.
According to a report released about the bus accident that occurred in Florida on December 15, 2017, the driver's fatigue was the leading contributing factor. As reported in the USA Today Newspaper, the bus failed to stop either a stop signal at an intersection or the blinking red stoplight before colliding with a truck.
As you know, fatigue slows a driver's reaction time, making the driver unable to slow down or stop. Moreover, it affects the quality of decision making. The driver can miscalculate the speed of a motor vehicle in the next lane and merge into another car, causing severe injuries or even death. The driver could also approach a stop sign too fast and fail to realize that they will not be able to stop in time, hence hitting into your car due to fatigue. Every time a driver decides to operate their vehicle tired, they endanger lives.
Motorist fatigue could be more disastrous when the tired driver is a bus driver. Buses have a lot of weight, and it is difficult to come to a complete stop or maneuver if necessary, even when the motorist is not tired.
According to the Wall Street Journal, lawyers filed cases involving defective Firestone tires in 1998. Bridgestone Corp in 2000 recalled Firestone tires, making it the second-largest faulty tire recall in the United States' history. The recall was due to intense pressure from government agencies, safety advocates, and tire retailers following reports that the tires may have been associated with hundreds of collisions and forty-six deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about twenty-three thousand people were injured in motor vehicle collisions in 2013. Although the driver's negligence caused the majority, a significant amount was due to defective equipment.
Under the general principle of product liability, you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and any incurred losses. Cases involving defective bus equipment fall under either of the following:
- Defective design - These claims allege that a product was designed to make it unreasonably unsafe to use as planned.
- Defective manufacture - The claim alleges that a consumer product was poorly manufactured hence making it hazardous. It involves the use of poor-quality materials or shoddy craft.
- Marketing defect - This is also known as the failure to warn claim. It involves a victim urging that the product exposed them to a non-obvious danger that could have been mitigated with proper warning.
Common examples of defective parts that could fail include brakes, headlights, taillights, tires, cruise control system, windshield wipers, and accelerator pedals.
More often than not, it is not apparent to victims that a bus defect caused the accident. That is why a skilled personal injury lawyer should review your case (even when you do not think a bus defect played a role).
Hazardous Road Conditions
According to research conducted by Eduard Zaloshnja and Ted R. Miller in 2006, about a third of accidents in the U.S. are linked to poor road conditions. The accidents resulted in 22,000 deaths and 2,000,0000 injuries. The total losses incurred were two hundred and seventeen billion dollars.
Unsafe roads can be due to driving hazards like:
- Uneven surfaces or potholes - Loose gravel or a pothole can cause a bus to lose control.
- Poor road maintenance - Broken traffic lights, deteriorated signage, broken guardrails, and erosion can cause dangerous driving conditions on roadways.
- Negligent construction - Failure of a road construction firm to use approved plans properly and high-quality materials increase the increase of bus accidents.
So, who is responsible for unsafe road conditions? The state government should maintain, inspect, clean-up, and keep roads safe. When roads are under repair or have faults, the government has a responsibility to warn drivers of the hazards while it corrects the issue.
Hazardous road condition bus accidents are complicated. It is because the burden of proof rests on you to prove the contractor or responsible government agency acted negligently, and their negligence caused your injuries. You may also be required to establish that the defendant knew of the existence of the unsafe road condition but did not fix it.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
Any traffic accident, whether a low-speed fender bender or catastrophic accident, can result in injuries, and bus crashes aren't an exception. Injuries originating from a bus accident fall across the spectrum of severity.
Additionally, there are safety risks that come up when it comes to bus collisions, due to the characteristics of buses. First, buses are more likely to roll over or tip-over than normal passenger cars. Second, most buses do not have safety features like airbags and seat belts.
Therefore, irrespective of whether the risk of a bus crash is lower compared to other traffic accidents, the chances of suffering severe injuries when a bus accident occurs are high.
The common injuries include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately seven thousand people are injured in accidents every day. Internal bleeding is one of the most catastrophic injuries.
Although these injuries do not manifest immediately, they require immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms to look for after an accident include the following:
- Pain and tenderness - The accident can injure your chest and abdomen and cause severe health complications.
- Nausea - You might feel dizzy or nausea after the accident as a result of the loss of blood
- Bruising- One of the signs you're bleeding in your skin and soft tissues is noticing dark purple skin.
- Signs of shock - Human bodies go into shock after losing a lot of blood over a short period. You might experience lethargy, lightheadedness, weakness, and rapid heart rate.
Whiplash occurs when a bus turns or stops suddenly, causing your neck to move forth and back rapidly. It causes injuries and pain to tendons and muscles in the neck. Its symptoms include:
- Neck stiffness
- Loss of range of motion
A minor whiplash injury can recover over time.
In a bus accident, broken bones are due to compression or blunt force of the collision. While any bone can break, the most common are legs, feet, arms, and hands. Signs of broken fractures include redness, bruising, swelling, pain, loss of function, and deformity. Depending on the location and seriousness of the break, your physician should be able to determine the most effective treatment option.
Lacerations and Deep Cuts
Buses come with numerous glass windows, among other breakable parts. When an accident occurs, there is a high risk of sustaining severe cuts and lacerations. On the surface, the injury might look short-term, but they can have severe life-enduring consequences like damage to nerves, tissues, and skin as well as leave permanent scars. The injuries should be treated immediately to reduce the risk of infection. While some cuts need stitches, lacerations might require a reconstructive procedure.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A bus accident that leads to injuries to your spine, including the spinal cord, spinal column ligaments, and vertebrae, can cause paralysis. It can also affect nerves and muscles below the injured site as well as cause loss of:
- Control and sensation of a bodily function like bowel movement or breathing
Spinal cord injuries suffered in bus accidents are severe and more common than you can realize. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are about seventeen thousand new cases of SCI in America annually. Since 2010, traffic-related accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries (thirty-eight percent).
Why You Need Legal Assistance in Your Personal Injury Claim
A bus accident claim is complicated and not something you should attempt to handle on your own.
The All-industry Research Advisory Council conducted a study with approximately six thousand victims of traffic-related accidents. The study discovered that cases analyzed by lawyers received a forty percent higher compensation amount compared to those who didn't seek legal assistance.
The Insurance Research Council also performed a different study, drawing a similar conclusion. The report indicates that plaintiffs represented by lawyers received eighty-five percent of all settlement insurance providers paid. Moreover, victims with legal representation received compensation three times higher than self-representing plaintiffs.
Bearing that in mind, you should hire an experienced lawyer. Here is why:
Your Attorney Has Negotiation Skills
During the claim, you will receive numerous settlement offers from the defendant's insurer. If you're handling the case alone, it is your responsibility to determine if the offers are satisfying. If not, you need to come up with a negotiating method until the insurance provider offers more money.
The Attorney is Knowledgeable
A bus accident claim can be confusing, overwhelming, and complicated, mainly if it is your first time. There is a lot of paperwork to be brought, proof to be collected, and letters to be responded to. If you engage a legal expert, it all becomes more straightforward and streamlined.
Effective Case Strategy
Typically, an insurance firm will do everything in its power to avoid paying compensation. If you want to file a claim, you should state the case in a manner the company has challenges contesting. Unless you're a seasoned lawyer, it is not easy.
Find Legal Assistance Near Me
Have you or your loved one been injured in a bus accident? A crash with a bus can result in catastrophic injuries. Moreover, different from a standard passenger car accident, you will be confused about where to turn for help. Fortunately, even though you might feel confused and alone, you are not alone. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney is here and can fight for your rights. Contact us today at 904-800-7557 to book your initial consultation.