Fort Collins Bus Accident Lawyer

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Motor vehicle accidents of all sorts may lead to catastrophic injury, but those involving buses are among the most devastating. This is the result of two factors: vehicle size and passenger capacity. First, the large sizes of buses mean that smaller vehicles are at a huge disadvantage in collisions. Second, the large numbers of passengers in buses reasonably translate to higher rates of injuries and fatalities. Facing the aftermath of a bus accident is difficult, especially if you have no one to help you seek compensation. A Zinda Law Group Fort Collins bus accident lawyer is here to help.

Zinda Law Group personal injury attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that no personal injury victim lacks excellent legal representation. If you were injured in a bus accident in Fort Collins, do not hesitate to speak with one of our Fort Collins bus accident lawyers today. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer near you.

Fatal Bus accidents in Colorado

Sadly, there is a history of tragic bus accidents in Colorado. In some cases, the memory of these accidents persists decades later in the impacted communities. In this section, we explore just a few of these heartbreaking accidents.

Case Illustration No. 1 – Greeley

On December 14, 1961, a train travelling at 79 mph collided with a school bus around 8:30 a.m. It was an extremely cold winter morning, leaving the rear window of the bus covered in frost and with “only a two-inch space at the top for the bus driver to see on the sides or back of the bus.” Further, there was no light or warning signal on the tracks.

When the train struck, the 60-passenger bus was torn in half. Debris was scattered hundreds of feet along the tracks. Part of the bus was dragged 455 feet down the track by the train.

In total, 20 children died and 16 more were injured. Over 60 years later, it is still the deadliest crash to ever occur in the state of Colorado. A witness described how the event still affected them: “It was the worst thing you can imagine. The worst thing that can happen to you. Christmas is still hard for us.”

Read more: Peters, Mike. “ 20 children killed as school bus slammed by train.The Greeley Tribune, 25 Nov. 2002.

Case Illustration No. 2 – Gunnison

On September 11, 1971, the Gunnison High School junior varsity football team was travelling by bus to a game. The bus lost control of the brakes coming down Monarch Pass and flipped multiple times before landing upside down. Eight players and their coach lost their lives.

The tragic accident left the town devastated. Over 50 years later, the mother of one of the survivors reflected, “Sometimes I wake up at night and still think about the bus . . .One was hanging in a tree. One was sitting beside the bus . . .It was an overwhelming thing.”

Read more: Sickafoose, Quentin. “Gunnison community remembers bus crash tragedy 50 years later.9 News, 9 Sept. 2021.

Case Illustration No. 3 – Denver

More recently on July 4, 2021, a pedestrian was crossing a street in Denver when they were struck by a bus. The accident occurred just before 9 a.m. The pedestrian was killed; no other injuries were reported.

Read more: Campbell-Hicks, Jennifer. “Pedestrian hit, killed by bus in Denver.9 News, 4 July 2021.

Case Illustration No. 4 – Denver

On December 15, 2021, a pedestrian was struck by a Denver Public Schools bus, which was not transporting any children at the time. The accident occurred around 8:00 a.m. as the pedestrian crossed a road mid-block. The man with serious injuries was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Read more: Beese, Wilson. “Pedestrian dies after being hit by school bus.9 News, 15 Dec. 2021.

Case Illustration No. 5 – Aurora

On January 12, 2022, a Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus ran over one of its own passengers after they stepped off the vehicle. According to police, nearby surveillance videos revealed that the man stepped off the bus and then suffered a medical episode and collapsed.

The bus driver pulled away after the drop off and did not notice that the man had fallen under the bus shortly after exiting. The victim was found on the roadway around 6:25 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene.

Read more: Garrison, Robert. “RTD bus driver unknowingly runs over exiting passenger in Aurora; police find victim dead in street.” Denver 7 ABC, 12 Jan. 2022.

Case Illustration No. 6 – Garfield County

On March 3, 2022, an 11-year-old girl tripped as she ran to catch her school bus after it picked up other children and pulled away from the stop. She fell under the moving wheels around 7:40 a.m. Her tragic death, which was ruled an accident, has left the small community of 1,400 people deeply shaken.

Read more: “Colorado girl, 11, dies after running to catch the school bus, tripping, and falling under its wheels: Death has been ruled an accident.” Daily Mail, 6 Mar. 2022.

Case Illustration No. 7 – Black Hawk

On March 9, 2022, a Lexus SUV travelling outside of Black Hawk crashed with a casino bus around 4:40 p.m. The 41-year-old driver of the SUV was killed in the crash; the 49-year-old driver of the bus was taken to the hospital but did not suffer serious injuries. No others were injured though the bus was transporting several other passengers at the time.

Read more: Flynn, Colleen. “Deadly casino bus and SUV crash closes road to Black Hawk.” Fox 31, 9 Mar. 2022; Miller, Blair. “1 dead in Wednesday crash on Colorado Highway 119, CSP says.” Denver 7 ABC, Mar. 10, 2022.

Bus accident Statistics

The number of buses in the United States has increased dramatically over the years. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a branch of the Department of Transportation, there were 272,129 buses in the United States in 1960. By 2020, the number had steadily increased to 967,457.

The Bureau further reports that busing employed over 200,000 drivers in 2020:

  • 170,020 school and employee bus drivers
  • 21,480 charter bus drivers
  • 13,750 interurban and rural bus drivers

In the same year, urban and rural buses in the United States travelled over 15 billion miles. With numbers like these, accidents are bound to happen. Between 2010–2019, the Bureau reported a yearly average of 244 bus-related fatalities nationwide; nearly half were the result of accidents involving school buses.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the vast majority (70%) of the deaths in school bus-related crashes between 2011–2020 were occupants of vehicles other than the school buses:

  • 16% of victims were pedestrians,
  • 8% were drivers,
  • 5% were passengers, and
  • 3% were cyclists.

By contrast, of the people injured in bus-related crashes in the same time period,

  • 33% were passengers;
  • 8% were drivers;
  • 54% were occupants of other vehicles; and
  • the remaining 10% were pedestrians, cyclists, or classified as “other/unknown.”

Interestingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the number of school bus-related injuries and fatalities. In 2020, these crashes killed 54 people nationwide based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a decrease of over 50% compared to 2019. As the pandemic recedes, numbers are likely to rise again.

The number of accidents per year are generally much lower for non-school buses. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there was an average of 1,003 motorcoach accidents between 2005–2010. A “motorcoach” is defined as a bus designed for long-distance passenger transportation with seating for 30+ people. Thirty-two of the accidents were fatal, resulting in 44 deaths; 505 were nonfatal.

Read more: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), School-Transportation-Related Crashes (2017); National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Report on Curbside Motorcoach Safety (2011).

Responses by federal and State Lawmakers

These numbers have not escaped the attention of lawmakers. Both Congress and the state legislature of Colorado have seen fit to take action.

Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act

In 2011, the federal Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act was signed into law. The law was a bipartisan effort and applies mostly to new motorcoaches. Among various other safety measures, the law requires installation of:

  • safety belts at each seat,
  • fire extinguishers “or other readily available firefighting equipment,”
  • advanced glazing in motorcoach portals to prevent ejection of passengers,
  • “stability-enhancing technology” to reduce the number of rollover crashes, and
  • direct tire pressure monitoring systems.

It also requires establishment of improved roof standards to increase the resistance of motorcoach roofs in the event of a crash.

Colorado Safe Student Protection Program

More recently in March 2022, a bill was introduced in the Colorado legislature to combat the high number of school bus accidents. Known as the Colorado Safe Student Protection Program, the proposed bill would:

  • increase the safety of students and the security of school buses by equipping school buses with hardware and software that monitor driver behavior and enable the buses to communicate directly with first responders
  • fund relevant school bus safety training, including federal transportation security awareness training

Read more: Hannon, Taylor. “Colorado Aims to Create Safe Student Protection Program Following Student’s Death.” School Transportation News, 10 Mar. 2022.

Understanding your route to compensation with Fort Collins bus accident attorneys

The first thing victims of bus accidents should bear in mind is that these accidents are generally more complex than more commonplace collisions involving smaller vehicles. One reason these accidents are more complex is that liability may stem from many actors, from motorcoach companies and government entities to bus manufacturers and irresponsible drivers.

Successfully litigating against these various defendants requires the attention of a skilled personal injury attorney. Our Fort Collins injury attorneys are well trained, equipped with resources, and ready to help you strategize your path toward maximum compensation.

Negligence

Negligence is easily the most common cause of action brought in personal injury cases. Successfully arguing negligence requires that your injury attorney prove four elements. If any element is missing, the plaintiff’s case fails. The elements are:

1. Duty: the obligation to protect others from unreasonable risk of injury

2. Breach: the failure to meet that obligation

3. Causation: a close causal connection between the action and the injury

4. Damages: the loss suffered

In most cases, the first element—duty—refers to the duty to use reasonable care. Reasonable care is generally defined as “that degree of care which a reasonably careful person would use under the same or similar circumstances.” In other words, what constitutes “reasonable care” varies according to the degree of risk associated with different activities. The greater the risk, the greater the amount of care required to avoid injury to others.

However, in cases involving common carriers, bus drivers are held to an even higher standard. They must exercise “the highest degree of care.” Put simply, common-carrier drivers must be extra careful when driving. This is a very powerful tool in a bus injury victim’s arsenal.

In general, a common carrier is a person or company that transports goods or passengers. Our can help you determine whether the heightened duty of care applies to the bus driver involved in your case.

Respondeat Superior

The doctrine of respondeat superior is another powerful tool in a bus-accident plaintiff’s arsenal. This doctrine allows employers to be held liable for the negligence of their employees. It only applies, however, when:

1. the negligent driver was acting “in the course and scope” of their employment, and

2. when their employer retained a “right of control” over the employee’s actions.

Further, the doctrine does not apply to independent contractors, only to employees. Was the driver of the bus that hit you an employee or an independent contractor? Again, if you were injured in a Fort Collins accident involving a bus, our Fort Collins bus accident attorneys can determine whether this doctrine applies to your case.

Statute of Limitations

The governing statute of limitations is simultaneously one of the simplest and most consequential elements of all personal injury cases. Statutes of limitations set deadlines after which plaintiffs may no longer bring their cases seeking compensation.

In most cases, the Colorado statute of limitations is set at two years after the date of the accident. Once two years elapses, you may no longer bring your case.

However, cases involving a “public entity or an employee thereof while in the course of such employment” are subject to an extra requirement in Colorado law. Plaintiffs in these cases must file a written notice to the defending entity within 182 days after the date of the discovery of the injury.

In all cases, time is of the essence. However, because so many buses are operated by “public entities,” it is even more important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Contact our Fort Collins bus accident lawyers today for a 100% free consultation.

A Fort Collins bus accident lawyer CAN HELP

Bus accidents can lead to devastating consequences. Further, because liability may flow from many parties—large corporations, government administrative offices, and irresponsible motorists—the path toward compensation is often legally complicated. Victims in these accidents should not hesitate to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

At Zinda Law Group, we firmly believe that every personal injury victim deserves excellent legal representation, and our Fort Collins personal injury lawyers are proud to provide that representation. If you or a loved one was injured in a bus accident in Fort Collins, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with one of our Fort Collins bus accident attorneys today. Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee ensures you won’t pay anything unless we win your case.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.