Buses are an integral part of the nation’s infrastructure – in 2015, there were more than 800,000 registered buses operating in the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This is especially true in Dallas, where buses are an essential form of public transportation. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system offers bus lines as a reliable alternative to driving, while the Dallas County Schools system provides a convenient school bus service to North Texas, allowing children to freely travel to and from school to the relief of working parents.
However, when buses end up in accidents, the results can be disastrous. Consider that one bus driver is responsible for the lives of multiple passengers (often children) on the road. Emotional distress, serious injuries, and even death can occur if the driver makes one wrong move or does not practice safe driving principles.
Seeking assistance during the aftermath of a devastating bus accident can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re not sure of the steps you need to take. The relationship between passenger, bus driver, bus company, and other associated parties can make the resolution process incredibly messy and confusing. Consulting an attorney is heavily recommended if you do not know where to start.
Statistics of Bus Accidents in the United States
Buses have gotten safer and more regulated through the years, but accidents still happen. Despite a drastic decrease in the rate of fatal bus crashes, and overall collisions still occur at an alarming clip.
In 2015 alone, FMCSA reported:
- Approximately 53,000 property damage only crashes in the United States.
- Approximately 14,000 injury crashes involving buses.
- 295 total fatalities stemming from bus crashes, a 4% increase from the year before.
The Texas Department of Transportation has further statistics on the state of bus safety in Texas.
- In 2016, there were a total of 4,314 bus crashes in the state of Texas.
- Of those crashes, 425 resulted in injuries ranging from minor to incapacitating.
- In 2016, those crashes resulted in a total of 24 fatalities.
How are Bus Accidents Different from Regular Car Accidents?
While both are categorized as traffic accidents, there are significant differences between routine automobile accidents and bus accidents.
- Size. The most obvious difference is the disparity in size between a commercial bus and an automobile. Even the largest SUV is no match in weight to a bus – and as a result, that weight could lead to more serious damages and injuries in the case of a crash.
- Quantity of Affected People. Because buses transport large amounts of people, the driver is responsible for the safety of everyone on board. If the bus gets into an accident, the potential for injury is greater because the amount of people involved is higher.
- Safety. While buses are fairly safe when on the road, when involved in a serious accident they can be deadly. One of the main reasons is because most public buses do not have seat belts – and even when they do, passengers are not legally required to wear them. If an automobile suffers a rollover, the driver and passengers may walk away with minor injuries because of laws requiring seatbelt use – but if a bus suffers a rollover, the passengers have a high chance of suffering catastrophic injuries.
- Responsibility. When an automobile gets into a collision, it can be fairly simple to determine who was at fault in the situation. In a bus accident, however, the responsible party can be complicated, because buses can have multiple responsible parties. It could be the bus driver’s fault for unsafe driving, or the bus company’s fault if the accident was due to mechanical failure. The responsibility gets more confusing when government entities, such as school districts and transit authorities, get involved.
Because of the complexity of bus accidents, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney the moment you are involved in one.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
In a severe bus accident, individuals can suffer serious injuries and long-lasting emotional and mental ailments. This includes:
- Whiplash and spinal cord injuries
- Muscle sprains
- Brain trauma
- Crushing injuries
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Loss of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit system is Dallas County’s prolific public transportation outlet, and it is extremely popular. The bus branch of the DART has a fleet of 652 buses that receive incredible amounts of passengers daily. In 2016, ridership reached 33.7 million passenger trips.
While DART buses can be an incredibly convenient method of transportation and a respite from the oppressive Dallas traffic, it can also be unsafe for passengers. In the event of a collision, passengers can sustain serious, incapacitating injuries, or even die. Most DART buses do not have seat belts, and the massive size of DART buses can often result in severe damage and destruction.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a DART bus crash, consult with an experienced DART bus attorney. Whether you’re a passenger, motorist, pedestrian, or other involved party, an attorney can help ensure you are taking the steps necessary to receive your due compensation.
School buses are often considered America’s largest public transit system. With more than 480,000 yellow school buses traveling the nation’s diverse roads, it’s technically the largest transportation fleet in the country.
This is certainly true in Dallas. The Dallas County Schools Transportation Department operates more than 1,900 buses in 12 school districts across North Texas. That’s nearly three times as many as the fleet of DART buses.
We rely on school buses to safely transport our children to and from school, but recently the safety of Dallas school buses has been called into question. NBC 5 investigated the safety of school buses in Dallas and found that there was a 103% increase in school bus crashes from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year. This comes as the state total has been on the decline for the last seven school years.
Additionally, since 2009 at least 86 student passengers were injured in Dallas school bus crashes.
When a child is injured in a school bus crash, it can change your life dramatically. While physical injuries can be stressful and the financial hit can be costly, it’s the long-lasting emotional and mental repercussions for both you and your child that may be the most dangerous of all. And because it’s a school bus accidents, finding the answers to any potential compensation or justice can be complicated.
It’s very necessary to consult an attorney who specializes in bus accidents in this case. The understand the basic legal rights and options for school bus passengers involved in an injury accident.
While DART buses and school buses make up most serious bus accidents (in 2015, they accounted for 74% of all fatal bus crashes in Texas), other types of buses can prove to be dangerous as well.
- Motor Coach Bus – Also known as an intercity bus or a cross-county bus, these are the types of buses known for long-distance travel, usually across multiple states. The most popular of these is the Greyhound bus line, and while they can be relatively safe, they suffer some of the same precautions as other types of buses. In 2015, they accounted for more than 12% of all fatal crashes in Texas.
- Van-Based Buses – Considered to be more automobile than bus, these vehicles (also known as 12-passenger vans) are best known for being shuttles and taxis for airports and churches. These vehicles may have seat belts for increased safety, but because these are usually small operations, the drivers themselves may not have the proper driving knowledge to safely maneuver the vehicle.
Who Can Be Responsible for a Bus Accident?
If you or your loved one has suffered due to a bus accident, you may be entitled to a proper claim. Because buses are usually commercial vehicles, there may be multiple parties involved, and it can get difficult to figure out who can be responsible for your accident.
- Bus drivers – Drivers may be responsible if they had inadequate training, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted, or otherwise did not have the proper competencies or certifications require to operate a bus.
- Bus companies – Private bus companies may provide a means for public transportation for motor coach buses or even DART buses. These companies are required to perform routine maintenance, comply with government regulations, and hire qualified drivers to safely navigate the vehicles. For these reasons, the bus company may be held responsible for serious accidents.
- School districts – School districts who have hired school bus companies to supply transportation may be held responsible, especially if they haven’t done their due diligence in properly vetting the safety and reliability of these companies.
- Other motorists – Negligent drivers may be responsible for your damages if they were found to be at fault in a bus accident.
When Can I File a Claim for a Bus Accident?
The sooner you file a claim with the responsible party, the better. Certain bus providers, such as DART and school districts, have strict deadlines when it comes to properly notification that a claim has been filed. Failure to timely file a claim or to follow proper procedures can hamper your ability to recover damages. Consult a Dallas bus accident attorney for details and assistance in this matter.
Experienced Dallas Bus Accident Attorney
If you or your loved one has been involved in a serious bus accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Bus accidents are a serious matter, with potentially incapacitating injuries that can lead to physical pain, mental anguish, and financial ruin. Contact an experienced Dallas bus accident lawyer at the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for accident victims and their families. Call us today for a free consultation – if we determine you have a valid case, no fee or expenses will be charged until the case is won.