When people think of an automobile accident, they tend to think about two passenger vehicles colliding. However, bus collisions are more common than most people would think. If you were injured in a crash, a bus accident lawyer in El Paso, TX, will help you seek financial recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured following a bus-related crash, or if you would like to discuss the details of your case, call Zinda Law Group for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced El Paso truck accident attorneys.
The Danger of Bus Accidents in Texas
According to data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,998 buses and large trucks were involved in fatal collisions, a 5% decrease from the previous year. Bus crashes often have more severe consequences than a typical car accident due to multiple factors, including their large size and the lack of seatbelts.
Many buses, especially those that are designed for public transit, have a limited number of seats. This means that passengers may be forced to stand shoulder to shoulder with only a small handhold for protection, particularly during busy hours.
An overcrowded bus involved in a high-speed collision may injure many passengers, not to mention the other driver.
Lack of Seatbelts
A recently passed Texas law will require new buses purchased by schools to include seatbelts. However, many older models still in use to transport children to school and field trips do not include this critical safety measure.
It is also not a requirement for public transit buses to make seatbelts available for passengers. Although students will be more protected by seat belts in new bus models, most people riding buses in Texas won’t have this additional layer of safety in the event of a crash.
The average bus weighs many times more than a standard passenger vehicle. This simple fact is perhaps what adds the most danger to bus accidents. The added mass of the vehicle means that when they collide with a passenger car, they supply much more force to the collision and can subsequently cause more damage to the other vehicle and its occupants.
For a free legal consultation with a bus accidents lawyer serving El Paso, call 800-863-5312
Common Types of Bus Accidents in El Paso
The term “bus accidents” is a catch-all phrase. However, these crashes can be broken down into subcategories based on the type of vehicle involved in the incident. In turn, the type of bus may affect your options following a crash. Listed below are the most common types of buses involved in accidents.
El Paso’s Sun Metro provides residents with public transportation. Although city buses may be affordable and convenient for traveling, these pose unique risks, particularly for passengers.
For instance, many of these buses do not have seat belts installed. Drivers involved in an accident with a city bus must also deal with the additional obstacle of filing a suit against the city government.
Private groups such as businesses, sports teams, and churches often rent or lease charter buses to travel long distances. Like city buses, these vehicles also carry unique risks. If you have been injured in an accident with a charter bus, consider consulting a personal injury attorney in El Paso, TX.
School buses are also frequently involved in accidents which often lead to injuries for children. For instance, a child may be thrown across a bus if the driver suddenly brakes or hits a bump in the road. Discussing the facts and circumstances of your cases with a bus accident attorney in El Paso, TX, may help you understand your rights.
Bus Accident in El Paso lawyers near me 800-863-5312
Texas Common Carrier Laws
Under Texas law, commercial buses are called “common carriers.” The purpose of this type of vehicle is to transport passengers from one place to another. Because common carriers transport people, bus companies and their drivers are held to a high standard when exercising their duty of care.
The higher expectation imposed on bus drivers and companies is reflected in their responsibilities. Examples of bus driver responsibilities include:
- Keeping a safe distance between the bus and other automobiles
- Properly maintaining the bus and its equipment
- Ensuring that passengers safely board and exit
- Stopping at railroads before crossing
- Taking proper evasive action when necessary
A bus company or driver who fails to abide by these duties may be found negligent and thus may be held legally responsible for any subsequent injuries.
What to Do After a Bus Accident
Being involved in a car crash is a stressful event as it is. The novelty and uncertainty of being injured in a bus-related accident may compound the stress. If you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation, knowing what steps to take ahead of time may be helpful. Listed below are several important steps that should be taken after a bus accident.
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first and most important step following a bus-related accident is to seek prompt medical attention. Many bus crashes result in immediate injuries, some of which can be severe or life-threatening. Other collisions can result in minor injuries, which may take hours or days to manifest.
Getting medical care after a bus accident may ensure you receive proper treatment, putting you in the best position to recover from your injuries.
2. Report the Accident
Another important step to take following a bus-related accident is to report the incident to the appropriate parties. This may include local law enforcement, the company that owns the bus, or the school district that operates the bus.
Reporting the crash may have several benefits. For instance, a police officer who responds to the scene may create an official accident report. This document can serve as helpful evidence and strengthen the value of your claim against the at-fault party. If anything, informing the bus company or school district of the crash may prevent similar incidents.
3. Document the Accident
One critical yet often overlooked step a bus accident victim should take is documenting the scene. This means creating and maintaining a personal file where you keep every important document relating to the crash and your injuries.
Examples of documents and information that should be stored in the file include:
- The name and contact information of the bus driver and bus company (or school district)
- The license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the bus
- The names and contact information of any witnesses
- A copy of the police report
- A copy of your medical records and bills
- Photographs of the scene, injuries, and physical damage
Documenting the accident may be helpful when it comes to establishing the value of your claim and recovering compensation for injuries.
4. Call an Attorney
Finally, you should contact an El Paso bus accident injury attorney. An attorney may want to speak with you in person or over the phone to listen to the facts of your case. Once we familiarize ourselves with your case, we will provide you with legal advice regarding your rights.
If the attorney agrees to handle your case, they may thoroughly investigate it to discover relevant and helpful evidence. They can also negotiate a favorable settlement deal with the at-fault party or insurance company. Lastly, an attorney may advocate on your behalf should your claim be prosecuted in court.
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Who Can I Sue After a Bus Accident in El Paso, TX?
Identifying the liable party after a crash allows you to seek compensation and justice. However, this is not an easy task; you should seek legal guidance from an El Paso bus accident attorney. We will investigate the collision and build a strong case against the defendant.
Several individuals or entities may be liable for bus crashes, as listed below.
Bus Driver/Bus Company
The most common suspect responsible for bus accidents is the driver or company. For instance, a bus driver may be liable if they are speeding, running a red light, or engaging in distracted driving.
The bus company itself may be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of its employee. It may also be held directly liable if it negligently hired, trained, or supervised the bus driver.
A bus accident may occur even if the driver acts responsibly. These situations often involve other motorists acting negligently. In such cases, you may sue the negligent driver.
The other driver may engage in the following dangerous driving behavior:
- Drunk driving
- Texting while driving
- Fatigued driving
- Not obeying traffic signs
A manufacturer of car parts may also be held liable. These scenarios typically arise when the manufacturer supplies the bus company with a broken or defective part.
You could sue the manufacturer under the following circumstances:
- Defective design
- Manufacturing defects
- Failure to warn
- Negligent maintenance or repairs
- Breach of warranty
Because establishing liability on the part of a manufacturer can be difficult, consider consulting an experienced personal injury attorney before filing a lawsuit.
El Paso City Government
The local government may be liable if the city operates the bus (e.g., Sun Metro). In these situations, the bus is an extension of the city government. Thus, the city government may be liable for an accident involving one of its vehicles.
Legal Time Limits for Personal Injury Cases in Texas
A “statute of limitations” is a legal time limit for an accident victim to initiate a lawsuit. If the victim fails to file a claim within the relevant statute of limitations, the victim may be effectively barred from prosecuting the claim in court.
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. A claim following a bus-related injury is considered a type of personal injury claim, which means that you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the crash.
Exceptions to the Texas Statute of Limitations
In cases of minor children, the statute of limitations may be extended until the child reaches the age of majority or until the child is legally emancipated. The child then has two years from that date to file a lawsuit.
In certain cases, the two-year statute of limitations may be extended or “tolled.” Tolling has the effect of giving a victim extra time to initiate a lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that tolling a statute of limitations is an exception, not the norm.
Discussing the facts of your case with an attorney can help you better understand the statute of limitations and notice requirements, ensuring that your claim is filed on time.
You May Qualify for Compensation After an El Paso Bus Accident
A bus accident victim may be entitled to damages for their injuries if another party is responsible for the crash. As your lawyers, we will use all available evidence to calculate your accident-related costs and estimate future expenses. We want to make sure that you claim the full amount of your losses.
In calculating the amount of monetary relief that should be awarded to the victim of a bus-related accident, courts divide damages into two general categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages reflect expenses that can be assigned a numerical value and quantified. These refer to tangible losses, such as the cost of medication or transportation to doctor’s appointments.
In a bus accident case, economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses (present and future bills, pharmacy costs, rehabilitation services)
- Lost income and wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage (vehicle repair costs and personal property damages in the collision)
Our bus accident lawyers in El Paso, TX, will meticulously assess how the crash impacted different areas of your life. Working closely with you, we will gather and organize relevant documentation such as medical bills, invoices, pay stubs, and employment records to establish a clear picture of your economic losses.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that cannot be assigned a numerical value. A jury subjectively evaluates these. However, your attorney can help translate your personal experience so that the jury can understand the psychological impact of the traumatic event.
Types of non-economic damages in a bus accident case may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Emotional distress
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The Texas Legislature has enacted a law capping the amount of damages an injured individual can receive from the government. The Texas Tort Claims Act only permits you to sue a municipal government entity, like Sun Metro, for $250,000 per person, with a maximum of $500,000 per incident.
Although each bus is likely insured for $5 million in liability coverage, the law only lets you get to $250,000 per individual. If your damages exceed these limits, you may be able to get more from third parties, but that is the maximum amount you can recover from the government.
Zinda’s El Paso Bus Accident Attorneys Will Protect Your Rights
At Zinda Law Group, our El Paso bus accident lawyers may offer years of legal knowledge and experience. Our attorneys have plenty of experience handling and settling bus crash cases. Finally, our team has the resources necessary to help build the strongest claim following a bus accident.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being unable to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced El Paso injury lawyer, or if you would like to learn more about your options after being involved in a bus accident, call us to receive your free case evaluation.