Buses are a standard mode of transportation, especially for school-going children, tourists, or just regular people going about their business in public transportation. Just like other vehicles, buses are subjected to accidents that can result in significant injuries, even death. When you are injured on a bus, you will turn to their insurance coverage for compensation. However, Florida allows for persons that suffer significant injuries to recover damages from the party responsible for the accident.
However, seeking these damages is not easy and requires an understanding of the law when it comes to compensation in Florida. Talking to experts at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney will help in receiving your deserved damages.
Bus Accident Causes
Bus accidents can be as a result of multiple things with injuries varying from small ones to devastating ones and sometimes death. Treating the injuries suffered can cost significant amounts of money, forcing you to seek damages from the party responsible. However, you cannot request these damages if your injuries were minor according to the law, but only when they are significant.
The cause of the accident helps determine who takes responsibility for the accident. Some prevalent causes of bus accidents in Florida include:
1. Hazardous Roads
Roads become hazardous when they pose a significant danger to motorists or road users. Many things can make roads dangerous and result in accidents.
Cracked roads or a pothole on the street are dangerous to motorists. When the bus comes across an unexpected pothole and hits it, an accident is likely to result.
Sometimes, a truck may have spilled oil on the road to make it slippery, and it was not cleaned on time, this too is a likely cause of an accident on the road. Additionally, when there is construction going on ahead, there must be warning some meters before. This warning works to alert the bus driver to slow down to avoid a potential danger ahead. When a sign is not put out, the bus driver is likely to drive without expecting any threat. Unfortunately, he or she may come across the construction when it is too late to stop. This also results in an accident.
Road signages are also critical in guiding motorists on what to expect on the road. The department in the state responsible for ensuring the streets are well marked must continuously monitor these signs and markings. When the streets lack proper signs or markings, a driver can find themselves faced with a hazard that they cannot control and end up causing an accident.
2. Impaired Driving
The state of Florida prohibits intoxicated driving. However, this does not mean that motorists don’t get on the road drunk or impaired. Bus drivers are also not an exception. Impairment can be as a result of alcohol consumption, narcotics, or medications.
When you are impaired, you are unable to respond fast to any challenge they face on the road. Your response time is slow, so is the coordination. Some people, when impaired, can fall asleep on the wheel, resulting in an accident.
If the bus driver is taking any medication that may cause drowsiness or impairment, they should inform their employer and stay away from driving until the medicine is over. Unfortunately, many fear losing their wages while they remain at home. As a result, they fail to disclose their condition to their employers and assume they will drive without a problem. This is not wise and, in many cases, results in accidents that would have been avoided.
Other drivers may take alcohol or drugs and believe they are in control of their driving. Unfortunately, as the drugs and alcohol begin to settle in their system, they begin to lose control. This, in most cases, will result in an accident.
Buses are common carriers meaning they are on the road for extended hours. Most drivers want to work for many hours to increase their income. Equally, some bus companies, especially when they lack sufficient drivers, encourage their drivers to drive for long hours. The drivers would not refuse because it means more money for them.
Unfortunately, fatigue is a common cause of bus accidents in Florida. When a driver fails to take scheduled breaks, they get exhausted and can fall asleep as they drive. The law also gives regulations or guidelines on the hours the driver must drive and rest. This is critical in safeguarding their health and the lives of other road users and passengers on the bus.
Sometimes the drivers hold more than one job. The bus company may be strict in adhering to the law on when the drivers must rest. But, the company has no control over what the driver does during their other hours. The driver may be working somewhere else to earn more income. Working the two jobs can be exhausting, and getting behind the wheel when exhausted, it is dangerous. Drivers are encouraged to be well-rested and alert before they get behind the wheel and drive passengers.
4. Unruly Passengers
Passengers can also be a cause of bus accidents. Some passengers can be unruly and out of control. Some will come up to the driver distracting him and even making noise at him. Other passengers may be drinking in the bus and disturbing others. As the driver tries to control them, he or she may get distracted and cause an accident.
Some passengers can also alight from the bus before it comes to a complete stop. This is a dangerous thing to do and can result in an accident involving the passenger and the coach. When passengers are out of control, it is distracting to the driver, which is a cause for an accident.
Driving at high speeds beyond the legal limit is a crime in Florida. When a driver is moving at high speeds, it may be difficult to control the bus when they face an unexpected bend on the road. A bus driver can also encounter another incident on the way that will require him or her to control the bus. A bus is a big vehicle that you cannot control its speed or bring it to a stop as quickly as you would a regular car.
If a bus driver was moving at high speeds and suddenly comes across an accident scene that was not expected or a pedestrian, an accident may be inevitable. Every driver is discouraged from driving at high speeds so that they may control their vehicle. When the bus is moving at controllable speeds, the driver can avoid emergencies that may result in accidents.
Pedestrians can also contribute to bus accidents. A pedestrian walking along the road without reflective clothing at night can result in the bus driver knocking them down. A pedestrian can also be drunk and walks carelessly in and out of the road. Other times, a pedestrian can cross from the wrong place unexpectedly while the bus driver is approaching. In the aforementioned cases, accidents occur that sometimes lead to death.
Pedestrians are encouraged to wear reflective clothing when crossing or walking along the road at night. Better still, they are encouraged to cross from the designated areas for them, follow traffic rules and walk along the sidewalks instead.
7. Reckless Driving
Despite being held at a higher regard, bus drivers can also be reckless on the road. Reckless driving may involve joining the street without care, jumping lights, or swerving on the road, carelessly entering and exiting the lanes, among others. When the driver operates the bus in this way, an accident is likely that results in substantial injuries to the other motorists and passengers as well.
A driver can drive recklessly out of fatigue or when they are impaired. Reckless driving means operating the vehicle with complete disregard for the safety of others. This is also an offense in Florida, aside from being dangerous.
8. Inattentive or Distracted Driving
Many accidents can result from the driver’s inattentiveness or distraction. When you are distracted, it means you are not focused on the thing you are currently doing. There are many causes of disturbance, with the common one being the use of phones. If the bus driver uses their phone while driving to call or send messages, they get distracted and focus on the phone. As a result, they lose focus on the driving or the road and end up causing an accident.
Some drivers may decide to eat while they operate the bus. This is another common cause of distraction as the driver focuses on the act of eating and not driving. Distractions can also be external when something that is happening outside gets them curious. Irrespective of the cause of inattentiveness or distraction, accidents happen as a result.
9. Mechanical Faults
Mechanical faults can be as a result of a poor design or faulty part. If in the design of the bus, mistakes were made, they can cause accidents. Additionally, some parts like the brakes can also be faulty or failure in another system.
When these accidents happen, the party to blame may be the bus manufacturer, the auto shop responsible for servicing the bus, or the seller of the part. The auto shop may have bought a faulty part or placed it wrongly when the bus went in for servicing. Manufacturers are also expected to release a product that is safe in the market. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes happen, and a coach that is faulty in design or parts gets released in the market.
If the injuries sustained are significant, the cause must be established without a doubt. When the personal cover is exhausted while treating your injuries, your lawyer will seek damages from the party responsible. In this case, your attorney must establish if the mechanical fault was the manufacturer’s auto shop or the seller of the part.
10. Poorly Maintained Buses
A bus covers long distances and is on the road for extended hours. This means the wear and tear are more, and they require regular service. Bus companies must ensure their buses are regularly serviced and kept at excellent conditions.
Unfortunately, some bus companies fail to keep the buses well maintained because they want to record higher profits by avoiding costs. As a result, buses can breakdown as they are driven and result in an accident. When you suffer significant injuries as a result of a poorly maintained bus, your lawyer will seek damages for you from the bus company.
11. Inexperienced Driver
Operating a bus is not like operating regular vehicles. Bus drivers go through specialized training to understand how to manage the bus. When a bus company acquires a new coach, they must take the drivers that will operate the buses through training for the specific buses. Different buses come with different instructions on how to manage them. This means that a driver of one bus does not automatically qualify to drive the other bus unless they are similar.
Unfortunately, some bus companies, because of a lack of drivers, will ask any driver to operate a bus. A driver without sufficient experience in running a particular bus may cause accidents as they attempt to learn how to drive it.
Bus companies are also encouraged to carry out periodic training and exams to see the competency levels of their drivers. When the driver is not competent, they should not be allowed to drive as they endanger the lives of others and expose the company to lawsuits.
Additionally, bus companies must ensure their drivers have been qualified by the DMV to drive commercial vehicles. The DMV issues an exclusive license for commercial vehicle drivers and takes them through more training compared to other drivers. If a driver does not hold this license, they do not qualify to drive a bus.
12. Bad Weather
Weather conditions change, and drivers are not in control of them. When the roads are wet and slippery, buses can quickly lose control and crash into other vehicles or other objects. Lousy weather also causes poor visibility. When a driver is unable to see the road, they, too are unable to see any dangers on the road. As a result, they may drive into stationary objects or crash against other vehicles.
These accidents result in different injuries to the victims, with some of them being minor while others are significant. The victims also suffer significant damages when treating the injuries and recovering from them.
13. Other Motorists
Other road users also cause bus accidents. A bus driver is not in control of other motorists but only on their bus. A motorist that is driving recklessly can crash into a bus or drive it off the road and cause an accident. While joining an intersection, some motorists can recklessly disregard a red light and drive into the intersection while the bus that had the right of way has already entered the intersection. As a result, an accident may happen.
Other road users may be driving at dangerously high speeds and approach a bend without knowing a bus was also on the road. The other vehicle is unable to stop and ends up crashing into the bus. Drunk drivers are also a danger to bus passengers, especially when they are unable to control their vehicles. Without intending to, a drunken motorist will crash into the bus and cause an accident.
Types of Bus Accidents
With the numerous causes of bus accidents, many buses are also involved in different kinds of accidents as a result. Some of these are:
- Rollover Accidents – These types of accidents require the bus overturning and landing on its top or rolling several times down the hill. This type of accident is violent and causes devastating injuries to the victims, just as it damages the bus. Victims can suffer from catastrophic head injuries, back injuries, and broken bones, among others. Due to the violent nature of these accidents, a victim can also die as a result. The injuries sustained cost significant amounts in treatment, causing the need to seek compensation from the party at fault.
- T bone Accidents – These are common at intersections. When another driver disregards traffic rules and fails to give way, he or she may crash onto the bus on its side. When another vehicle crashes into the side of the bus, this is known as a T bone accident. This kind of accident results in significant injuries to the victims. Typically, passengers on a bus have no safety belts on. This results in them getting thrown about the bus and hitting their bodies against the coach.
- Rear-end crashes – Buses are also victims of rear-end crashes. A distracted driver from behind can hit the bus, or a distracted bus driver crashes onto a vehicle ahead. The impact can cause passengers to fall off their seats or hit against the body of the bus. As a result, the passengers on the bus or the other vehicle sustained injuries that require medical attention.
- Head-on crashes – These are the accidents that involve the bus crashing into another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Cars moving at high speed and coming to a sudden bend or overtaking and unable to get back to their lane often cause these types of accidents. The nature of this kind of accident is a violent one. The injuries sustained are often significant due to the forceful impact of the crash.
These types of accidents are a few of the ones that involve buses in Florida. When an accident occurs, determining the cause of the accident is critical, especially when you require compensation for damages.
Common Injuries in Bus Accidents
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that when an accident involving a bus happens, the injured victims go to their insurance providers to recover damages, which in most cases are the cost of treatment. Personal insurance coverage sometimes does not meet the cost of treatment and other damages sufficiently. This is typical when the injuries sustained are substantial, requiring hefty amounts of money to treat.
Victims of an accident involving a bus sustain different injuries with some of them being:
- Broken or fractured bones – The bombarding against the body of the bus or if the bus crashes into another car can cause broken bones to the victims if not fractured. These types of injuries require extended time to heal and sometimes multiple surgeries to treat. The cost of treatment and the wages you lose as you improve is compensable.
- Soft tissue injuries – These injuries are mostly skin deep and do not affect any internal organs. The victims suffer from lesions and pain, but the injuries are also minor and easy to treat. The damages due to the injuries are not as substantial, and personal insurance can sufficiently cover the costs.
- Head injuries – The hitting against the hard surface of the bus or when a passenger is thrown out of the bus can result in traumatic head injuries. These types of damages are substantial and often cost a lot in treatment. The time taken off work to heal as well as the pain and suffering a victim endures are compensable. Because of the severity of these injuries, the victims often have to seek more damages from the party responsible for the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries – These injuries involve getting injured in the back, and when the nerves are hurt, paralysis may result. This means the victim loses the use of their body parts and may require a wheelchair to move around. Additionally, the victim may need to modify their home to accommodate the wheelchair, which is an added expense. Victims of these injuries often turn to the insurance cover of the party responsible for the accident for compensation.
Filing Your Claim
Injuries from a bus accident are diverse and vary in severity. Seeking compensation from your insurance cover, irrespective of who caused the accident is what the law dictates. When a state is a no-fault one, it means your insurance company will compensate you for damages without considering who caused the accident.
When injured in a bus accident, you need to inform your insurance company of the accident and present your claim to their insurance adjuster. The insurance provider compensates you for the cost of treatment, lost wages, pain, and suffering, among others. When the damages are beyond your coverage, your lawyer will pursue a claim with the insurance of the other party at fault.
Once the insurance company receives the claim, they may dispute it, claiming their client is not responsible for the accident. Alternatively, they can say the amount sought is unreasonable, among other reasons. This will force your lawyer to file a petition seeking damages with the court on your behalf.
Find a Injury Lawyer Near Me
When you board a bus, you expect to get to your destination safely. Unfortunately, accidents occur that affect your expectations. Many parties may be found responsible for the injuries or damages you suffer following a bus accident. Establishing the faulty party is critical in getting compensated for the damages. If you are looking to pursue damages following a bus accident, the lawyers at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney are passionate about pursuing them for you. Call us at 904-800-7557 for an appointment to discuss your case.