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Liability is Unclear in Bus Accidents

Buses are generally thought to be a safe method of travel; after all, they are significantly larger than other vehicles on the road and many buses do not even come equipped with seat belts. A study by the National Bus Safety Council between the years 1987 and 1996 found 4.3 bus rider fatalities per year compared to 44,000 passenger vehicle fatalities over the same time frame. However, buses are involved in an alarming number of crashes, many of which prove fatal. In the last week, school bus accidents causing injury have occurred in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. Public transportation buses also frequently are involved in accidents leading to injury and death; a Washington, D.C. woman recently was hit and killed by a Metro bus, becoming the fifth fatality in eight months in the D.C. area from bus accidents. Accidents involving school children have prompted many school districts to re-outfit school buses with seat belts, even though many states still do not require school buses to have seat belts. Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) reveals that 5,212 deaths in 2005 were caused by crashes involving large trucks and that 91,824 injuries were a result of crashes involving large trucks.

Finding Blame in Bus Accidents?

Bus drivers must be extremely qualified and well-trained as they are responsible for large numbers of people and keeping control of an unwieldy vehicle. A bus driver can be held responsible for initiating an accident. However, bus accident lawsuits are not always clear because state and federal laws differ in who they say is at fault for such accidents. "Common carriers" are defined as being someone whose business is transporting people or material items from one place to another for compensation; such services typically are open to the public. Common carriers, which include commercial bus companies, are governed federally and by most state governments, and the drivers of these vehicles are required to have adequate training and equipment to complete their duties. As a consequence of this, the performance of bus drivers are held to exacting standards and they can be found to be accountable in bus accidents. However, the involvement of insurance companies and contractors in accident legal proceedings make questions of who is at fault much more complex. Common carrier regulations vary widely from state to state because the state governments are involved, and therefore, legal action in bus accidents can change greatly between states. Finding an experienced lawyer who is familiar with the common carrier laws of the area in which the accident took place and insurance policies regarding bus accidents is highly advisable.

What Should Be Done in the Event of a Bus Accident?

- If no law enforcement is present at the scene, immediately file an accident report with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol.

- Be sure to record the name, address, insurance information, vehicle license number, and driver's license number of everyone who was involved in the accident. Also be sure to obtain contact information and full names of any witnesses.

- Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accidents, any injuries sustained in the accident, and the accident scene.

- Do not discuss the accident or any injuries you suffered with anyone other than your doctor or lawyer.

- Do not agree to making a recorded statement or sign any document that you have not first reviewed with your lawyer.

- Immediately seek medical treatment and be sure to tell your doctor how your injury occurred and about any pain from which you may be suffering.

Should I Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer?

Having the guidance of a professional bus or auto accident lawyer can be advantageous in the case of a bus accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bus accident and believe someone else may be at fault, use the auto accident attorney information request form on this page to get in touch with an expert auto accident attorney or law firm in your area today!

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