Texas Bus Accident Lawyers
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Buses are essential to our transportation system, but they may also cause a substantial amount of harm when involved in an accident.
When injuries from a bus accident result from the negligence of a bus driver or company, it is important to understand the various legal factors that may affect your claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, call Zinda Law Group at (888) 659-9392 for a 100% free case evaluation with our Texas bus accident attorneys.
It’s important to understand the different types of bus accidents that may occur in Texas:
SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENTS
Accidents involving children on a school bus are devastating events for both the victim and the family. These types of accidents typically occur in residential areas, where other drivers are less likely to pay attention to their surroundings. There are various circumstances that may lead to a school bus accident, which include:
- Injury while getting on or off the bus
- Other drivers ignoring the bus’s stop sign
- Bus driver getting into a car accident
Because school buses do not have the typical safety restraints like most cars do, injuries from bus accidents have the potential to be life-threatening.
PUBLIC BUS ACCIDENTS
Public buses may include city buses, charter buses, tour buses, and other large commercial buses. Public bus accidents have the potential to cause injury to many people. Many bus designs are tall in height, which results in an extremely high center of gravity. The massive weight of these vehicles increases the risk for a bus rollover crash to occur on public roadways or highways. The companies that own and operate commercial buses have a legal obligation to check that their vehicles are maintained according to state and national regulations.
PASSENGER VAN ACCIDENTS
Small vans designed to hold 15 or fewer passengers are typically used by correctional facilities, daycares, churches, and other organizations. These types of vehicles have a higher likelihood than any other vehicle to be involved in dangerous rollover accidents. This is due to the design of the vehicle, which becomes dangerous when fully loaded with passengers and cargo; too much weight may make the van unstable and more likely to rollover.
COMMON CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS
Here are some of the common causes of bus accidents:
Bus Company Negligence
Despite serving a similar amount of people as the airline industry, bus companies do not usually have stringent record-keeping and bus inspection protocols. Buses require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep to keep them operating safely on public roadways. A bus accident could occur due to poor bus maintenance or defective parts that the company failed to take action in fixing.
Bus Driver Negligence
While there are laws in place that attempt to regulate bus drivers, they are often disregarded, especially by charter or tour bus companies. For example, bus drivers may ignore laws regulating bus speed, turning, and passing. Drivers may also be negligent when they are on their phones texting or calling. Accidents may also be the result of poor driver training.
Hazardous weather coupled with poor road conditions and the bus’s weight may cause wrecks. Bus drivers should be properly trained to operate a bus according to the weather conditions.
Left-turn bus accidents are some of the most frequent. Bus drivers are trained to lean forward and backward to eliminate possible blind spots before making a left turn. A driver who is not able to move forward, left, or right in the driver’s seat due to the driver not meeting height or weight requirements raises questions of improper selection or training of the driver on behalf of the bus company.
Fires in buses arise from two locations. The engine compartment is the cause of most bus fires. These types of fires are preventable by systematic maintenance, since dirty engines create conditions for fires from a small spark or from the high heat of travel. The second most common area for bus fires is around the tires and wheel wells. Under-inflated tires pose a significant threat. When tires are operated at low air pressure, heat quickly builds up and a fire may result.
HOW DO BUS ACCIDENTS DIFFER FROM CAR ACCIDENTS?
With most motor vehicle accidents, if you’re filing a lawsuit in court, the procedure is pretty straightforward. However, when involved in a bus accident, there are some issues that differ from those involved in car accident cases:
Unique Legal Issues
If you’re injured as a passenger on a bus, you may make a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance by seeking compensation for economic and/or non-economic damages. On the other hand, if the bus driver was at fault, then the law gets more complicated. Because most buses are owned and operated by government entities, you usually must start by filing a “notice of claim” with the particular government entity that is potentially liable for the bus accident.
Since many buses are owned by the government, a government employee may have the protection of sovereign immunity, meaning that the government has immunity from a lawsuit against it. Most government entities allow a lawsuit to proceed if the complaining party complies with the procedural requirements used in lawsuits against the government. Another unique feature of lawsuits against the government includes caps on the amount of damages available.
Severity of Injury
Because buses are larger and heavier than most other vehicles, they have a tendency to cause severe damage. Additionally, most buses do not have seat belts or airbags, increasing the likelihood of serious injury.
Below are the most common bus accident injuries:
- Head, spinal, and brain injuries
- Bone injuries
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
FILING A CLAIM FOR BUS ACCIDENTS
Injury claims against the government are made under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, there are a few factors that may influence your claim:
A damage cap limits the amount of compensation you may seek from the government for an injury claim. In Texas, the damage cap ranges from $100,000 to $500,000 based on the details of the damage. Keep in mind that this cap is the maximum compensation possible, and is no way indicative of the average settlement for a bus accident. To learn more about how much you may be entitled to for your injuries, contact a lawyer.
You must notify the government of your intent to sue, which involves filing a “notice of claim.” While personal injury lawsuits have a 2 year statute of limitations in Texas, the notice requirement under the Texas Tort Claims Act provides a shorter statute of limitations. Cities are permitted to establish their own notice deadlines, which means that every city in Texas has a notice deadline that may be as short as 45 days and as long as only 6 months.
What You'll Need to Prove
When seeking compensation, you need to prove that:
- The government operated the bus company
- There was a duty owed by the bus driver or bus company
- The bus company or driver breached that duty
- Your injury was caused by the operation of the bus or a defect with the bus
- The bus company or driver would have been personally liable had they been a private entity
- You provided proper notice to the governmental entity
Contact a Bus Accident Attorney
Bus accident lawsuits tend to be complicated depending on the parties involved. The assistance of an experienced lawyer may help you with managing the claim process.
For a lawsuit against a privately-owned bus company, you must prove negligence. Specifically, you need to show that the bus driver had a duty to exercise reasonable car, breached that duty, leading to an injury and damages.
Calculating the amount of your claim after a bus accident may be difficult. Typically, damages for personal injury claims fall under two categories: economic or non-economic damages.
The two main types of economic damages are medical expenses and lost wages. Medical expenses may include:
• Ambulance transportation
• Hospital fees
• Costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy
• Costs for possible future medical treatment.
Lost wages represent the time you are off from work because of your injuries from the accident. Specifically, lost wages may include:
• Vacation time
• Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are losses or injuries that are suffered by a car accident victim, but are not defined in monetary terms. Non-economic damages may cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, a lowered quality of life, and mental anguish.
WHO CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR A BUS ACCIDENT?
Here are some parties that may be liable for a bus accident:
• The bus driver
• The bus company/driver’s employer
• The government entity responsible for operating the bus
• Other motorists
• The company responsible for the bus’s maintenance
• Bus passengers
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
For bus accidents in Texas, the standard statute of limitations is 2 years, meaning that a victim must file their personal injury claim within 2 years after the date of the accident. In lawsuits against the government, the notice requirement under the Texas Tort Claims Act provides a shorter statute of limitations. Every city in Texas is permitted to establish their own notice deadlines, meaning that each city has a notice deadline that may be as short as 45 days and as long as 6 months.
In car accidents involving minors, the 2 year statute of limitations begins to run on the minor’s 18th birthday. For example, if the victim was 10 years old at the time of the accident, and the statute of limitations for car accidents is 2 years, then the victim would have 10 years to file a lawsuit before being barred by the statute of limitations.
Call THE TEXAS BUS ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our bus accident attorneys have the experience and knowledge that has helped injured victims seek compensation after suffering an injury from a bus accident. We have the maximum knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and to seek maximum compensation.
Our firm also believes that an injured victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your personal injury claim. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.