According to the United States Census Bureau, California is one of the highest populated states with a recorded population of 39,512,223 people. Buses are a standard mode of transport for many residents, often getting involved in road accidents. Safety on the streets is critical, with bus owners and drivers owing a duty of care to their passengers and other motorists. Many Californian have had experience with a bus accident either directly or through a loved one. Records indicate that about 2,000 injuries and deaths annually are as a result of bus accidents in California.
Buses can be involved in some of the most gruesome types of accidents. The injuries and general damages can be significant following a bus accident. Fortunately, if you are injured in a bus accident as a passenger or a motorist, you will receive costs. If you are in California, The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm will help you pursue your claim and obtain favorable compensation.
Overview of Bus Accidents
As earlier stated, buses are commonly used in California for transportation. School buses, general passenger buses, and tour buses are standard on California roads. These buses are reportedly involved in various types of accidents every day, resulting in severe damages.
For instance, the Department of Health released some statistics on school bus accidents that were alarming. This study found out the following facts:
- 5 million children use school buses, with 17,000 of them visiting hospitals for injuries they sustain while on the bus or boarding it annually.
- Of the injured, 42% of them got involved in a bus crash
- About 24% of injuries sustained in these accidents happened as the children got in or out of the bus
- 43% of the injured ranged from eleven to fourteen years
- Most injuries were sustained by the younger children aged between 5 and 9 years
- Head injuries or wounds carried the most significant percentage of all the injuries at over 50%
Most people believe that using a bus is one of the safest ways to travel. However, this is not always the case. Buses are involved in accidents more often than it is thought with 2014 alone reporting about 70,000 bus-related accidents.
Typically, bus drivers get issued with specialized licenses from regular drivers. Additionally, the buses are subjected to special inspections to ensure their safety. With these measures, transportation by buses is assumed to be safer than conventional vehicles, yet they still cause accidents and injuries.
Over the last 20 years, bus accidents have continued to be on the rise. In 2014, the United States Department of Transportation Bureau reported 69,000 accidents involving buses. This number included all kinds of buses from tour buses, transportation, and school buses.
However, of all the types of bus accidents, public transportation coaches are more involved in accidents. Bus accidents involve the passengers in it, other motorists, and even pedestrians. The types of injuries sustained depend on the impact of the crash. Some injuries are minor, with some being more substantial and others even fatal.
Tour buses, on the other hand, are less involved in accidents compared to other coaches. School buses are also relatively safer than public transportation ones. Despite this, more than six children are reported to die annually from bus accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is considered relatively safe, considering that there are national statistics where over 450,000 buses are used to transport children.
Compensation for the damages caused is available to passengers, motorists, pedestrians, and children involved in bus accidents. You can pursue compensation for your losses from the liable party for your accident with an experienced bus accident attorney.
Despite these statistics, bus accidents are not as common as regular vehicle accidents. However, because of their size and the volume of passengers they carry, a crash can be more devastating. The injuries sustained are also varied, resulting in different costs of treatment.
Various Research Findings on Bus Accidents
Much research has been carried out on bus accidents, just as many bus accidents have been reported. In 2013, for instance, two significant bus accidents carrying tourists were reported. One of these accidents was in California, where many were injured, and eight people died. When these accidents are reported, the media outlines the bus company’s record, yet more data is still required.
It is essential to understand that there are various types of buses with different statistics. Some of the researches carried out on bus accidents include:
A 2011 study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that in 2009, more than 241 million people went on personal tours using either tour or chartered buses. The study’s essence was to report on the growing curbside business, but it included data on the bus industry. The study discovered that coaches have a high likelihood of causing fatalities when involved in accidents with other motorists or pedestrians and cyclists. The drivers and passengers are, however, safer in a bus accident compared to other persons. In 2009, the fatality of both bus drivers and passengers was 45 deaths for every 100,000 accidents.
On the other hand, in 100,000 regular car accidents, 251 deaths were registered. Additionally, from 2005 to 2010, the reported bus accidents were 1,003, with thirty-two of them resulting in 44 fatalities. Five hundred five of the accidents did not result in death, while the remaining 467 caused property damage.
- In 2010, a study by the University of Michigan focused their research on data between 1999 and 2005. This was to produce a report on road accidents in America. The research found that annually, about 63,000 buses get involved in accidents. Out of these, 14,000 of them cause injuries, and about 325 of them result in deaths. The statistics further indicated that of the passengers and drivers, only 50 of them died, but the rest sustained injuries.
- In another study of 2012 by the journal of Safety Research, it was concluded that buses are not always the safest way to travel. The researchers deduced that bus accidents comprised 0.6% of all the accidents in America annually. However, the volume of their accidents for a million passenger miles is 3.04, similar to that of cars at 3.21. The study further focused on understanding the characteristics of the drivers involved in these accidents. The first discovery was that young and inexperienced drivers increased the risk of accidents.
Similarly, drivers above the age of 55 were also found to cause more accidents than their younger counterparts. Over 65 years of drivers were found to have the highest risk of accidents, increasing the risk by 18.6%. The ideal or model drivers were found to be those aged from 35 to 55 years. Despite these findings, the study found that 83% of bus drivers that were in accidents never exhibited reckless driving behaviors. Of all the bus drivers involved in accidents, only about 4% were prosecuted for speeding, DUI, or drowsy driving.
- In another 2012 study by NTSB, over 700 million Americans use buses to travel to and from their destination. Most of these people get safely transported from one place to another. Despite the impressive safety records on bus transportation, over 250 persons died from these accidents in 2009. Additionally, more than 20,000 persons sustained injuries in the same year. Between 2000 and 2007, fatal accidents involving buses were 1,093 that caused 1,315 deaths and injured over 3,471 people. These numbers are not only for the bus occupants but for other motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists involved in accidents with the buses.
The safety of passengers on the bus and other road users is vital to California’s government and state. As a result, a lot of safety measures are employed at the national and state levels.
Common Causes of Accidents According to Bus Accident Statistics
As different studies have been carried out to conclude the prevalence of bus accidents and their impact, the researchers also focused on understanding these accidents’ causes. From the studies, bus accidents are not as many as those of regular vehicles, but when they do happen, their impact is more significant because of the numbers involved. Some of the common causes of bus accidents are:
Age of the Driver
As earlier stated, most bus accidents involved younger and inexperienced drivers below 35 years and older drivers over 65 years. The younger drivers were found to be impatient and always wanted to move faster than the older ones. Additionally, younger drivers had less experience driving buses that require specialized skills, and when faced with a challenge, it would be difficult for them to overcome it safely. Senior drivers aged 65 and over were found to be less alert compared to their younger counterparts. Records indicate that elderly bus drivers increase the risk of accidents with about 18.6%. Their coordination was less accurate because of their age and had a slower response to emergencies on the road.
Most senior citizens have underlying health issues and get put on medication. Some of these drugs may cause them to be impaired or fatigued, yet they feel the need to keep working. Their health conditions were found to be contributors to the higher risk of accidents they cause.
Bus drivers are often on the road for longer hours compared to regular drivers. At the same time, their wages depend on the hours they work, and for them to earn more, they must work more. As a result, drivers will often violate their hours of service as set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The regulations indicate the ideal hours a driver should be on the road and their resting hours. Drivers must log their times in the logbooks, but some falsify the records to earn more money.
As a result, a driver will be exhausted from the long hours on the road leading to severe mistakes that are sometimes fatal. Fatigue has been reported to be responsible for about 13% of bus accidents in America. If bus drivers and companies adhered to the regulations on hours served, the studies showed that drivers would be less tired, resulting in fewer accidents.
Poorly Maintained Buses
It is expensive to maintain buses as required by the law. Most bus companies and drivers cut corners when it comes to maintenance to increase their profits. Unfortunately, poor maintenance can result in faulty equipment that is more costly when lives are lost. A bus company is expected to keep records of their maintenance with a reputable auto shop to safeguard themselves from liabilities should an accident occur.
Driving Under the Influence
Although this is not a common occurrence in bus drivers, some drivers’ intoxication results in severe accidents. Bus drivers and other commercial carrier drivers are expected to practice more duty of care on the roads. When a driver is drunk or intoxicated by drugs, they will hardly be able to practice this care. As a result, they will drive carelessly and cause accidents that injure and even kill those involved.
According to reports, one of the leading contributors to fatal accidents is drunk driving. 40.6% of the reported road accidents involve impaired drivers, with some being bus drivers.
Bus drivers also get distracted by other things on the bus or outside the bus. A distraction causes them to lose focus on the road and focus on it instead, resulting in accidents. The researchers found that drivers who answered their phone texts or used their phones, among other distractions, causing accidents. Ideally, a bus driver is expected to focus on driving only while on the road and avoid engaging in other activities that may cause a distraction.
A report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics indicated that 16% of fatal accidents resulted from distracted driving. Distracted bus drivers have also been included in the report published in 2009.
In one of the studies, irresponsible behavior on the roads was found to be one of the causes of bus accidents. However, not many bus drivers are involved in reckless driving. According to research findings, 83% of bus drivers involved in accidents were not recklessly driving. Out of the bus accidents’ annual figure, only about 4% of these drivers were charged with reckless driving behaviors like speeding.
Poor Road Conditions
Another finding in bus accidents was that poor road conditions also caused them. When the road is not well maintained, it may have potholes or cracks that when hit by a bus, they result in accidents. When the roads are not adequately marked or designed, they also contribute to bus accidents. According to the NHTSA, only about 25% of American roads are in excellent condition. Because of the poor conditions, many bus accidents result.
In one of the studies, passengers were also found to contribute to these accidents. Some passengers are unruly and difficult to control. The bus driver finds themselves distracted from the road when trying to control their passengers. As a result, passengers’ unruly behavior was found to contribute to bus accidents, although not significantly.
Poor Weather Conditions
A driver is not in control of the weather conditions. Sometimes, a driver can unexpectedly face a storm or torrential downpour, causing poor vision. If a driver is unable to see their surroundings clearly, an accident may occur as a result. Similarly, slippery roads because of ice or heavy rains can make it challenging to navigate the roads, ending in a bus accident.
Other Motorists and Road Users
Bus accidents are not out of the bus driver’s error or the reasons listed above. Studies have shown that other road users significantly contribute to bus accidents. When drivers of another vehicle are reckless, or their car is faulty, they can crash into a bus. Pedestrians also contribute to bus accidents. If a pedestrian carelessly crosses the road, they may get hit by a bus resulting in substantial injuries and even death. Cyclists, just like other road users, were also found to contribute to accidents involving coaches and themselves significantly.
Statistics on Bus Accident Consequences
When a bus accident occurs despite its cause, there are repercussions to the incident. A study in 2012 and published in the Journal of Safety Research, drivers above 65 years increased the risk of sustaining small injuries by about 18.6%. The same study also found that 33.1% of senior drivers’ accidents led to non-incapacitating injuries, while 52.3% of them resulted in incapacitating injuries. 18% of accidents by elderly drivers were found to result in the death of victims.
The injuries and fatalities are not only to the bus passengers and their drivers but also to other road users and pedestrians. Buses are typically made without safety belts for the passengers. As a result, a small impact can cause significant injuries to the passengers, let alone to others. Suppose a driver suddenly applies brakes to avoid a dangerous situation on the road. In that case, injuries are likely to happen when passengers hit against the bus’s body or each other. Some of the common injuries in bus accidents were found to include:
Fractures and Broken Bones
When an accident occurs, the passengers and other road users in the bus accident suffer different injuries. Depending on the severity of the impact, the victims suffer fractures and broken bones in different parts of their bodies.
When passengers in a bus bombard against the bus or other passengers’ bodies, they can suffer serious head injuries. One of the studies found that 17,000 children visit the hospital to seek treatment for injuries sustained in a school bus. Out of these, over 50% of them sought treatment for head injuries sustained following the accident.
Similarly, grown-ups in a bus accident also suffer head injuries, with some resulting in disabling conditions. The impact of a bus on a bicyclist or a pedestrian or another driver can result in those involved suffering severe head injuries.
Victims of a bus accident, especially those hit by the bus, can suffer from lost limbs. When the impact is substantial, it can damage some limbs that can result in their amputation.
Lacerations and Tissue Injuries
These are common injuries amongst passengers on a bus. When the impact is not severe, passengers may crash against various bus parts resulting in tissue injuries and lacerations. These are minor injuries that are not as costly to treat; neither are they life-threatening. However, the party liable for the accident, causing these injuries, is held accountable for its treatment costs.
California Laws on Bus Accident Claims
California is a fault state meaning the party at fault or responsible for the accident is held accountable for the costs or damages that arise. If you get injured in a bus accident in California, you can claim damages with your injury lawyer’s help. The guidelines on bus accidents fall under the tort laws of California. This means that the plaintiffs or the injured persons pursue a joint claim for their damages. In most cases, your lawyer will rely on negligence as a basis to prevail in your request. Your lawyer must prove the other party’s carelessness to receive damages following a bus accident.
In using oversight as a basis for your claim, your attorney must determine the following elements:
- The responsible party owed you and the other passengers a duty of care.
- The defendants violated their responsibility to you through their actions or their failure to act.
- Because of their actions or failure to perform, an accident resulted.
- The accident led to injuries or harm to the plaintiffs.
California holds bus drivers higher because the lives of multiple passengers and other road users depend on their care. All common carriers and bus drivers have the highest duty of care, according to the Civil Code Section 2100 of California. According to this, the slightest show of negligence is enough to conclude a duty of care was violated for passengers. However, if the bus accident occurred involving another motorist, the duty of care is similar to that of other drivers.
Liability in Bus Accidents
Before concluding the party liable for a bus accident, the cause must first be established. Not all bus accidents are the fault of the driver or the bus company, as earlier discussed. When pursuing claims, the right party must be held accountable, and there is substantial evidence of their liability.
Pursuing claims is not always straightforward. Many factors must be taken into account to determine the party responsible for the damages incurred. Your lawyer, while pursuing your claim, understands this and the possible challenges from the liable party.
Find a Bus Accident Lawyer Near Me
A bus accident is an unfortunate occurrence that happens even when you take all the necessary precautions to drive safely. The consequences of an accident are devastating from the injuries sustained to the cost of treatment. Fortunately, you can claim compensation for your expenses and inconveniences caused by a bus accident. With our lawyers’ help at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, you can focus on other matters as we passionately pursue your compensation. Call us at 619-625-8707, and we will gladly schedule an appointment to discuss your case further.