Bus Accident Lawyers in Houston, Texas
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Riding the bus is a cost-efficient and environmentally safe way of traveling. In Houston, traveling by bus is a great way to get around to see the different sights and sounds of the great city. However, riding the bus can turn into a nightmare when there is a crash. Because a victim has little protection when a bus accident occurs, they may suffer severe injuries. When that happens, they will want Houston bus accident lawyers who can comfort and guide them through what happens next.
Bus Accident Statistics
A 2010 study from the University of Michigan revealed that, on average, approximately 63,000 buses are involved in an accident every year. Of those accidents, 14,000 result in an injury and 325 result in a fatality. Additionally, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2019 there were 84 school buses, 15 intercity buses, and 78 transit buses involved in fatal crashes. These numbers demonstrate that bus accidents are responsible for numerous deaths to bus passengers and to others sharing the road.
Typical Victims of Bus Accidents
The most common bus accident victims are:
- bus passengers
- other motorists
- property owners
Unlike simple car accidents, bus accidents have a greater tendency to cause intense damage to a multitude of other vehicles, property, and people. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that from 2011-2020 approximately 86% of fatal injuries in school-bus related crashes involved occupants of vehicles other than the school bus or pedestrians. Importantly, the NHTSA found that bus passengers made up 33% of the reported injuries. The likely explanation is that the sheer size and weight of most buses will lead to higher injury rate for pedestrians or individuals in other vehicles who will have less protection if an accident occurs.
Read More: Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Types of Buses Involved In Accidents
Bus accidents can occur anytime, anywhere. There are several types of buses frequently involved in accidents:
School buses are usually safe modes of transportation for bringing children to school. However, when accidents occur children are often injured as a result. That’s why it’s important for bus drivers and passengers to follow relevant safety rules when possible.
City and public buses are helpful for work commuters and travelers wanting to see Houston for an inexpensive price. Unfortunately, the amount of people served on the buses each day takes a toll which can lead to mechanical problems and a bad accident. Passengers and drivers must observe safety protocols at all times to prevent or mitigate a bus crash.
Private And Charter Buses
Private and charter buses often carry large amounts of people as part of a tour or private party. When a bus accident happens, there is a high potential for large groups to suffer injuries as a result. If you were injured on a private or charter bus, you may have a claim against the bus company’s insurance policy.
Hotels and airports use shuttles to conveniently transport large amounts of people to and from nearby locations. Due to their unusual shape and frequent stops, shuttles are prone to additional accidents.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
Due to the sheer size of buses and the lack of seatbelts used, injuries from a bus accident are typically more severe than a regular vehicle.
A non-exhaustive list of potential injuries include:
- traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions
- neck pain
- road rash
- broken bones
- internal bleeding
- permanent disability
- psychological trauma
How Do Bus Accidents Happen?
There are countless ways that a bus accident may take place. If the bus driver causes the accident, it could be the result of:
- driving while fatigued
- operating while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- not using the bus’s turn signal before changing lanes
- making a wide turn
- bad weather and/or road conditions
- other types of distractions
If the bus driver is not the reason for the accident, it may instead be the result of:
- a poorly maintained bus
- parts of the bus improperly put together
- the bus company inadequately training the bus driver
- lack of safety equipment
- the bus catching on fire
What You Should Do After A Bus Accident
There are important steps to take after going through a bus accident.
1. Seek Medical Attention If Injured
In the immediate aftermath of a bus accident, you should examine yourself to determine whether your injuries are serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention. If you are critically injured, get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt, schedule a medical evaluation immediately after the accident in case of hidden injuries.
Furthermore, you should document any and all medical expenses you received while treating your injuries. Include information regarding how the injury from the accident has negatively interfered with your day to day life. This will greatly assist a personal injury attorney in determining how much your claim is worth.
2. Contact the Police
After evaluating your health, contact the police to report the accident. A police officer will arrive on the scene shortly to evaluate the accident and obtain information. Make sure to provide the police with your side of the story. Be mindful of the words you use and avoid admitting any fault.
Obtain the police officer’s name, badge number, and police report number. Make sure to ask the police officer for a copy of the report after the officer completes their evaluation. The report will help if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
3. Document Evidence
If it is safe, take photos of the accident, including any injuries you suffered, the bus, the driver, any other party who is responsible, the area where the accident occurred, damaged property, and anything else that will provide evidence of the destruction caused by the accident. If there are witnesses, make sure to obtain their name and contact information, as they will be helpful in proving your side of the case if you pursue a claim.
Since memories fade, it is important to document as much relevant information as you can while the event is fresh in your mind. That includes taking notes about the accident, including how it happened, the cause, and any other details that you feel could be helpful.
4. Obtain A Houston Bus Accident Lawyer
Your next step should be to hire an experienced Houston injury attorney who can navigate through the relevant laws and talk to the insurance companies. The lawyer will know how to investigate and present your claim in the best way so that you can obtain maximum compensation.
Who Is At Fault FOR A BUS ACCIDENT?
It can be difficult to determine who is the responsible party for a bus accident, which is why it should be examined on a case by case basis. That being said, there are several types of parties who are usually responsible for a bus accident:
The Bus Driver
A bus driver is the first party to look to when evaluating the merits of a lawsuit. A driver may be responsible if their negligence caused the bus accident. Negligence means that a party failed to behave in a manner that an ordinary person would have. For example, if a bus accident occurs because the driver was texting on their cellphone, they may be negligent, as a reasonable person operating a bus would focus on the road. A driver is also responsible for the bus accident if the driver operated the vehicle in a reckless manner, while intoxicated, or lost control of the wheel.
The Bus Company
The owner of a bus may be a private company, a school, or a local government municipality. Bus companies can be negligent when an accident occurs. Examples include:
- poor hiring practices
- improper bus driver training
- no safety policies in place
- failing to enforce safety policies
- not maintaining proper conditions for the bus
Under vicarious liability, lawsuits often name the bus driver and the bus driver at the same time after a bus accident. Vicarious liability means that one party is responsible for the unlawful activity of another party. The doctrine is especially common in the employer-employee relationship, such as a bus driver and the bus company who employs the driver.
By choosing to employ a driver, a bus company is potentially liable for any mistake the driver makes while on the job. For example, if a bus driver causes an accident due to not having the proper training on how to safely navigate during adverse weather conditions, you can claim that the bus company neglected to fulfill its obligation to provide sufficient training to its employees.
Further, buses that are not inherently local (school buses and inter-city buses) are subject to federal regulations due to crossing state lines. These buses are common carriers. A common carrier bus has the highest duty to ensure that the buses are operating safely and getting passengers to their destination.
The Bus Manufacturer
A manufacturer has the obligation to make sure that their products work as intended and are safe for consumers. In a situation where an important component of the bus failed to work such as a defective electrical system, brake failure, or improperly installed fuel tank, the bus manufacturer is likely to blame. If you have questions about products liability, Zinda Law Group’s accident lawyers can answer your questions.
The Driver of Another Vehicle
The driver of another vehicle could be responsible for the bus accident if the driver:
- was speeding
- driving recklessly
- failing to brake behind a stopped bus
- ignoring a bus’s stop sign
- tailgating behind the bus
Again, this speaks to the reasonability standard in determining negligence. If a driver fails to behave like a reasonable person would have, then they could be liable for the accident and resulting injuries.
The state or local municipality may be liable for injuries incurred by a public bus. According to state law, the state of Texas is liable for money damages for a maximum amount of $250,000 per person, $500,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death, and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to our destruction to property. Additionally, Texas Torts Claim Act allows an individual to bring a lawsuit against a local government, such as Houston, as well under the same damage caps amount.
Importantly, the city of Houston controls the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), which is a popular mode of transportation that services millions of citizens annually. You can bring a lawsuit against the city of Houston if you can demonstrate that METRO is responsible for the equipment malfunction, destroyed tires, or any electrical or mechanical failure contributed to the accident.
Your personal injury lawyer in Houston will advise you on which party or parties are responsible for your bus accident.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU RECOVER AFTER A BUS ACCIDENT?
For a personal injury lawsuit under Texas law, you have the ability to obtain economic damages, non-economic damages, and possibly punitive damages. In a circumstance where the victim of the bus accident passes away due to their injury, a loved one can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim. The same type of compensation is available whether you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic damages is compensation for monetary losses such as medical expenses (past and future), loss of earnings, loss of use of property, and loss of future employment. To ensure you receive accurate compensation for your economic damages, keep documents which demonstrate your medical expenses, property damages, and missed work.
Non-economic damages is compensation for non-monetary losses such as pain & suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, and loss of companionship. Non-economic damages are harder to quantify than economic damages, however, your attorney will help determine the value of your non-monetary losses.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages punish the responsible party rather than making the victim “whole again.” You must meet a very high standard to obtain punitive damages. A court may award punitive damages in addition to economic damages in a situation where the responsible party was reckless or acted intentionally.
Even if you are able to meet the threshold for punitive damages, state law has a damage cap on what you can receive. In Texas, the cap for punitive damages is:
- $200,000 or
- twice the amount of economic damages plus an equal amount of non-economic damages up to $750,000.
Consult with your Houston personal injury lawyer to determine whether you should pursue punitive damages.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations?
In Texas, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party (or parties). In Houston alone, if the accident occurred because of the METRO you only have 90 days after the date of the accident to file a claim against the municipal government.
CALL A ZINDA LAW GROUP HOUSTON BUS ACCIDENT LAWYER NOW
If you were involved in a bus accident, you should focus on your health, rehabilitation, and getting back to where you were prior to the accident. Your Houston bus accident attorney will walk you through the legal process and help you with your case.
At Zinda Law Group, our Houston bus accident attorneys have the experience and knowledge to pursue maximum compensation for the injury. You do not owe us any money unless we win your case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. Call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.