Bus AccidentTexas Bus Accident Lawyers Serving Orange, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Surrounding Areas of Texas While bus transportation is generally considered the safest mode of American transportation, bus accidents do occur, resulting in some of the world’s most horrendous injuries and death. Buses and bus transportation are among the least regulated methods of public transportation. Buses actually owned and operated by schools are even less regulated than public and charter bus services. At Bush Lewis, our bus accident attorneys provide excellent representation based on more than 30 years of legal practice (with a total of over 100 years of combined lawyer experience). We protect the rights of bus injury victims, whether the passengers were on a school, public, private or charter bus.
Bus Accidents InvestigationThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is charged with investigating fatal bus accidents but has publicly acknowledged that accident reporting on bus accidents is so haphazard and inaccurate that there is no way to gauge the safety of America’s buses. There are now over 4,000 motor coach companies providing charter bus services in America.
Lack of Bus Safety BeltsThe NTSB has repeatedly urged for the last 40 years that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require installation of safety belts in buses, but school buses, commercial bus lines, and charter buses remain exempt from this basic safety requirement. Since the federal government has not required bus manufacturers and operators to have safety belts, these companies (along with school bus companies) have refused to install the belts. Even though the government does not require safety belts on buses, bus makers and operators can install belts voluntarily. Inclusion or exclusion of safety belts on buses is a decision each company makes based on its own level of commitment or lack of commitment to safety. Not only has the bus industry as a whole refused to install safety belts, it has also refused to do any crash tests to establish uniform safety standards. Lawsuits against bus manufacturers and operators for failing to have safety belts allow juries to determine if prudent companies should have safety belts on their buses. Most new 66-seat commercial buses cost $85,000-100,000. Safety belts similar to those in cars and the supportive seats required to make the safety belts appropriately effective would add only about $4,000 to the cost of these buses. For years, the bus industry has inaccurately argued that safety belts would be ineffective and might inflict injuries themselves. In serious bus accidents and rollovers, most injuries are from the blunt trauma force of being violently thrown into something inside or outside the bus. These type injuries are almost always prevented by safety belts. As a former NTSB chairman observed in discussing bus safety: “It’s been proven in the transportation industry repeatedly that the simplest, least expensive and most effective safety device is a seat belt.”
Failure to Use Laminated Glass in Bus WindowsAlmost as dangerous as lack of safety belts is the failure to use laminated glass for bus windows. Laminated glass prevents window shatter, reduces glass cuts and tends to retain broken windows in place to prevent passenger ejection or contact with pavement or other exterior objects. The very structure of buses creates a high center of gravity that makes buses more prone to rollover at highway speeds, especially when involved in braking or evasive action to avoid other vehicles or roadway hazards or debris.
Other Hazards that Contribute to Bus AccidentsNot all bus accidents and injuries relate to the bus itself. Like all other types of motor vehicle accidents, excessive speed is often a critical factor in causing serious accidents. Unfortunately, many bus accidents are caused by incompetent bus drivers who were poorly screened or trained. Other bus crashes occur from driver fatigue or impairment, both of which are inexcusable conduct for a passenger carrier. Many charter bus companies have inadequate staff and procedures for bus maintenance and inspection. This can result in critical maintenance lapses and inadequate or faulty brakes, defroster/defoggers, steering problems, and other bus failures. The issues with buses do not end once a bus comes to rest following an accident. Rescue following serious bus accidents is often more difficult than other major accidents for several reasons:
- The first of these problems is that emergency responders are used to dealing with lighter and alternative materials such as fiberglass, composites and aluminum while many buses are built like tanks, often making extrication of crash victims more difficult and slowing rescue.
- Second, bus accidents usually involve multiple victims, slowing rescue of some passengers and requiring swift prioritizing and triage. Third, the failure to have safety belts usually causes victims to be significantly displaced and even piled upon one another.
- Finally, the bus itself is larger, creating both an additional traffic hazard and larger pool of flammable liquids necessitating prompt traffic control and rescue.
Duty of Care Owed by Bus CompaniesPublic bus companies are common carriers and owe passengers they transport for profit a very high degree of safety because these carriers are making money off their passengers and are in full control of their safety. School districts using buses to transport students for school purposes in Texas owe the students only a duty of ordinary care because they are not profiting from the transportation. Texas courts have chosen to give bus companies contracting with school districts a special status of contract carriers and allow them to have a duty to their passengers limited to ordinary care because they do not pick up, deliver or transport members of the general public for fare. This rule probably extends to all contracted bus trips for a school district but no case has ever discussed its applicability to extracurricular activities. It is clear that even school districts and bus companies contracting with school districts to transport students owe a duty of ordinary care of the same standard which would be exercised by a reasonably prudent bus operator. By contrast, other bus companies owe a duty of a very high degree of safety. Any bus company can be held accountable for exemplary damages if it operates its bus with gross negligence.
Insight and Expertise of Experienced Texas Bus Accident LawyersBus accident lawyers should understand these nuances in bus law and be experienced in investigating the fine details of these accidents and exactly how injuries were sustained. More importantly, bus accident lawyers need to understand the problems confronting these victims—whether it results from the loss of a family member, a seriously incapacitating injury or the emotional trauma of a nightmarish accident. This requires not sympathy but empathy. Finally, a lawyer dealing with this type disaster needs the experience and resources to successfully steer a major case to its conclusion.
Discuss Your Accident with a Seasoned Beaumont Bus Accident AttorneyBush Lewis lawyers are experienced in all areas of automobile accident litigation. If you have been injured in a bus accident, contact our Beaumont bus accident attorneys today. We proudly serve the areas of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur, Texas. Call Bus Accident Lawyer, Ken Lewis today at 409-835-3521.
Know This Before An Accident
No one plans to have an accident and no one expects to sustain a serious injury or lose a loved one to death from someone else's actions or mistake. It helps to at least have heard what experienced lawyers say you can do to ease the situation. At Bush Lewis, we think there are some helpful guidelines that we recommend to you. Our lawyers suggest: Learn more.