Bus Accident Lawyers in Aurora, Colorado
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Buses help reduce carbon emissions and increase American mobility. In fact, more than 3.6 million Americans used buses to travel to work in 2019. While buses can be good for the environment and good for workers in urban areas, they can also be dangerous with the wrong drivers. Aurora bus accident lawyers know just how devastating crashes involving buses can be. We also know how to help victims of these kinds of accidents get compensated for their injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Aurora accident that involved a bus or motor coach, call (800) 863-5312 today. You’ll receive a free case evaluation with a Zinda Law Group Aurora bus accident attorney and be on the road to recovery.
National bus accident statistics
Buses are clearly beneficial to members of the workforce and to children in school, but anyone who has been a victim of a bus accident in Aurora knows the pain that the vehicles can cause. The following are some statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration relating to the frequency and severity of bus accidents.
Types of Buses
First, you might wonder how the type of bus involved in the accident affects the legal claim. There are intercity buses, school buses, and transit buses. On average, school buses have been involved in the most fatal crashes, with transit buses coming in at a close second, and intercity buses being involved in the least fatal crashes.
In 2019, 84 school buses, 78 transit buses, and 84 transit buses were involved in fatal crashes. These numbers are thankfully trending down as the systems for training drivers become more standardized.
Perhaps most importantly, the type of bus involved in the accident will indicate whom you must sue under the doctrine of respondeat superior. We will discuss that doctrine more later.
Next, the total number of fatalities in accidents involving buses has steadily decreased with slight fluctuations from 348 in 1975 to 258 in 2019. This is promising, since the number of miles traveled by buses has nearly tripled during that same time period.
If your loved one passed away during a bus accident, you can still file a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf to recover for your loss. That is, if the deadline of three years set by the statute of limitations hasn’t passed.
Finally, the total number of injuries from bus accidents is also lowering over the years. There were 36,000 injuries from bus accidents in 1999 compared to 25,000 injuries from bus accidents in 2019.
Seven requirements for being a Colorado bus driver
A bus is a kind of commercial vehicle, so those who drive it must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To get a CDL in Colorado, the driver must first meet several requirements and pass various tests. If the bus driver who caused your injury was an unsuccessful CDL applicant or did not pass the tests, the employer who hired him without a valid CDL could be negligent.
This section highlights areas in which employers may have been negligent in hiring unqualified applicants. In suing the driver directly, an Aurora bus accident attorney will look at the negligent acts or omissions of the driver that led to the accident.
You can sue both the driver and the driver’s employer for negligence if you have a legal claim against both. We will discuss negligence more in depth later in this article.
1. Know Which Kind of CDL You Should Get
When the bus driver applied for the CDL, he or she must have known which type of CDL he or she wanted to obtain. Additionally, the bus driver must have only driven a vehicle appropriate for the class of CDL for which he or she applied. For example, someone who obtained a Class A CDL may not drive a bus.
There are three classes of CDLs in Colorado. The first, which we have already mentioned, is a Class A CDL that allows the driver to drive any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more, with the trailer weight of 10,000 pounds or more. The Class B CDL is similar, except the trailer weight must be 10,000 pounds or less.
The Class C CDL is for any vehicle or combination of vehicles that do not meet the definitions for Class A or Class B CDLs and are designed to transport 16 or more passengers. Class C CDLs also apply to any vehicles required by federal regulations to display signage indicating that they are carrying hazardous material.
2. Get a Conditional Learner’s Permit
First-time applicants for a commercial driver’s license in Colorado must obtain a conditional learner’s permit before taking any other steps. While the driver has a conditional learner’s permit, he or she can only practice driving on public roads with someone who has a CDL.
There are also strict timing requirements regarding the conditional learner’s permit. That is, an applicant must hold a commercial learner’s permit for at least 14 days before he or she can take the CDL skills test. The commercial learner’s permit expires after 180 days, although the applicant can renew it one time for an additional 180 days.
3. Apply to Get a CDL
Once the applicant successfully obtains a conditional learner’s permit, he or she may apply for a CDL. Someone attempting to get a CO CDL must prove his or her identity, legal presence in the United States, and Colorado residence. The applicant must have a valid driver’s license or commercial permit from Colorado or another state.
The applicant must also have a current Department of Transportation medical card provided by a medical examiner certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a Social Security number. The applicant needs to pay the appropriate application fee.
4. Pass the Physical Requirements
In addition to the medical card, applicants must self-certify their fitness to the Colorado DMV. Once the applicant is medically approved to apply for his or her CDL, he or she will receive a certificate attesting to his or her physical fitness. After receiving the certificate, the applicant must keep the certificate on his or her person at all times while operating a commercial vehicle, and the medical card must be updated every 24 months.
The driver must be able to hear a forced, whispered voice in the better ear at five feet away or more without using a hearing aid. A driver must have a distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 in each eye without corrective lenses and a distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 in both eyes with or without corrective lenses. Finally, the driver must also be able to recognize the red, amber, and green colors of traffic signals.
The driver must have a blood pressure under 140/90, but there are allowances for different stages of hypertension. Blood pressure can be controlled with or without medication. If a driver has a physical impairment that affects his or her ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle, the driver must be approved by the state of Colorado to drive commercially. The driver can receive a variance approval by completing a Skill Performance Evaluation.
5. Pass the Knowledge Requirements
The driver must also pass the knowledge requirements in the form of written exams. In fact, the driver must pass the written exams prior to even obtaining the commercial learner’s permit.
The results of this exam are valid for one year after completion. If the applicant’s test results are older than a year, then the applicant needs to retake the test even if he or she has a valid commercial learner’s permit.
Each of the knowledge tests covers the 20 general areas outlined by Colorado’s law and contains at least 30 items. An applicant passes the knowledge tests by getting 80% of the questions correct.
6. Pass the Skill Requirements
The applicant must pass a skills test in order to obtain a CDL, and the applicant must successfully perform all of the required skills in a vehicle of the same type that the applicant plans to operate. If the driver fails to take a skills test with a vehicle that has all of the critical equipment present in the kind of commercial motor vehicle that the applicant plans to drive, then there might be restrictions placed on his or her CDL in Colorado.
7. Get the Correct Endorsements
In addition to applying for the correct class of commercial motor vehicle, potential bus drivers must also obtain the correct endorsement. The relevant endorsements for this article include P and S endorsements. These endorsements are available under a Class C license. A P endorsement is for passenger transport intended for the operation of a vehicle that carries a certain number of passengers, and a commuter bus falls under this category.
An S endorsement is for operating a school bus. It requires a specific application form, fees, and background tests including a criminal history check, and a driver’s license record check. Anyone who gets an S endorsement must also have a P endorsement, and someone with an S endorsement may also have to pass periodic physical exams.
Experienced Aurora bus accident attorneys can help you understand the legal theories in Bus accident cases
The legal theory under which victims sue in bus accident cases is most likely negligence. The victim in a bus accident claim for negligence must show that the following elements are true:
1. The bus driver or bus driver’s employer owed the victim a duty of care.
2. The bus driver or bus driver’s employer breached that duty of care to the victim.
3. The victim sustained an injury of the kind for which he or she can receive compensation.
4. The victim’s injury was caused by the bus driver or bus driver’s employer.
Since the bus driver was likely working for his or her employer at the time of the crash, the doctrine of respondeat superior may apply. Under respondeat superior, the employer must take responsibility for the negligence of the employee, since the employee was acting on behalf of the employer when he or she committed a negligent act or omission.
This can occur at the hiring stage if the employer did not look into the bus driver’s background or qualifications; or the employer might have done a poor job training the bus driver. Even under respondeat superior, the victim must show that the employer’s negligence met all four of the elements mentioned above.
The Bus Driver or Employer’s Duty of Care
A legal duty of care arises out of certain kinds of relationships. Usually, the expected duty of care is that of the ordinary reasonable person under similar circumstances. The ordinary reasonable person is expected to prevent foreseeable harm. Drivers are typically expected to attempt to prevent foreseeable harm by following traffic laws and making adjustments to their driving based on changing road or traffic conditions.
However, there is also a professional standard of care that certain individuals must take due to the nature of their jobs. For example, doctors are held to a professional standard of care when dealing with their patients, and lawyers are held to a professional standard of care when dealing with their clients. This standard is higher than that of the reasonable person since the patients and clients are relying on someone whom they trust has expertise in a field.
Similarly, bus drivers who have gone through more training than the average driver on the road must make regular maintenance checks and follow proper procedures to take the level of care that is standard in their industry. If they do not, or did not in your case, you will need a personal injury lawyer who can prove in negotiations or court that the professional bus driver failed in this regard.
The Victim’s Injury
The victim must have received an injury for which he or she can receive compensation, and a physical injury will usually meet this requirement. Finally, the person the victim sues must have caused the victim’s injury. That is why it is important to ensure that the bus driver was working at the time of the accident if the victim chooses to sue the bus driver’s employer.
Call a zinda law group Aurora bus accident lawyer for guidance about your case
It is fair for you to assume that bus drivers, who must attain a commercial vehicle license in order to drive, should be held to a higher standard of care than the average driver on the road. The unfortunate reality is that bus drivers can make the same mistakes as those other drivers.
When bus drivers make mistakes, they should be held accountable so that they avoid making negligent errors and harming people in the future. A personal injury lawyer in Aurora can help you determine whether the bus driver in your case was acting negligently and whether you should sue the driver to get compensated for your injuries.
When you work with a Zinda Law Group Aurora bus accident attorney, the control ultimately remains in your hands. You decide whether to sue and whether to accept a settlement.
The personal injury attorney is a guide to help you make informed decisions about the direction of your case and to take the workload of the case off of your plate. You should not have to worry about negotiating with insurance companies while you are trying to get your life back on track after the injury.
AURORA PERSONAL INJURY CLIENTS DESERVE THE ADVOCACY OF ZINDA LAW GROUP
As a Zinda Law Group client, you have the assurance that we are your advocate, and we will work hard on your case because we have a No Win, No Fee Guarantee. That means that you do not owe us payment unless we win your case.
Not only do we offer this guarantee, but we also invest our time in you from the very beginning by offering a free consultation. If you are curious about what an Aurora injury attorney thinks of your case, call (800) 863-5312 today.
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