Every year in Texas, thousands of people are killed or seriously injured in Texas bus accidents. Tragically, many of these accidents are the result of negligent, reckless Charter bus and Tour bus drivers and their employers. Whether you are a passenger on a Charter bus, Tour bus or in a motor vehicle or pedestrian, you entrust the bus driver and bus company with your loved ones’ safety and well being. An accident caused by a bus company is among the last thing you would expect. Yet, when a bus accident happens, the consequences can be significant, both emotionally and financially. Our legal system has in place a mechanism to ensure that the costs of bus crashes are borne by those at fault. Experienced Texas bus accident lawyers can help you determine if you have a valid claim for your injuries, and, if so, how to maximize the recovery from all negligent parties.
Buses are often thought of as a safe alternative to flying for large groups traveling across the country, in the state of Texas, or even just across town. But the number of deadly Texas bus accidents in the news are proof that travel by bus is not always guaranteed to be safe. In each of the years from 1990 to 2001, there were between 50,000 and 63,000 bus crashes in the United States. Between 1991 and 2004 somewhere between 15,000 and 21,000. In 2015, 4,311 buses were involved in fatal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that between 2000 and 2007, 1,093 fatal bus accidents have occurred, resulting in 1,315 fatalities and 3,471 injuries. This translates to about 137 bus-crash related fatalities a year. The number of people injured because of careless bus drivers and bus companies is much higher.
There are many reasons why a bus may get into an accident. Some of the most common reasons include:
Some of the most common injuries individuals sustain when involved in a bus accident include:
One of the most common questions asked of a Chart bus or Tour Bus accident attorney after a bus accident is in regard to what damages can be recovered. If you or a family member has been injured in a Charter Bus or Tour bus accident, you may have a claim against the driver of the bus, bus company and other third parties for:
Because of the many ways a bus crash can happen, the question of who is responsible for injuries and other damages depends upon the circumstances of the accident. Early in the case it is important for your lawyer to identify certain parties, such as the owner of the bus, the company that operates it, and the company responsible for making repairs and maintaining the bus in a safe mechanical condition. Finding an attorney who will locate all potential responsible parties is crucial. Some of those your lawyer may identify as parties responsible for your injuries include:
The Bus Company – A bus accident may occur because the bus company sends a defective bus out on the road with faulty brakes, a shaky steering column or overused tires. The company’s actions in hiring unqualified drivers, maintenance people and other personnel, or in negligently training or supervising them may also contribute to the cause of an accident. In addition, the company may be found at fault for a bus crash and passenger injuries caused by its failure to make or enforce adequate safety procedures.
Bus Maintenance Companies – If the bus company contracts an independent company to maintain the vehicles in a safe mechanical condition, that company may be sued independently for negligent maintenance that causes a crash or accident.
Affiliated Cruise Lines and Tour Operators – Owners and drivers of these buses can be held liable for driver negligence in an accident. When a bus trip is part of a package offered by a tour service, the service itself may be liable for damages to passengers when a crash occurs in an affiliated tour bus.
Bus Driver – Accidents are often caused by the driver’s negligent operation of the bus. Drivers may violate traffic controls, fall asleep at the wheel or have their attention diverted by non-driving-related distractions. Bus drivers involved in a crash can be held personally responsible for the injuries sustained by the passengers. As a practical matter, however, the companies employing the bus driver, and their insurance companies, will typically be held financially responsible for bus crashes and resulting injuries.
Drivers of Other Vehicles and their employers – Owners and drivers of other cars, trucks and other vehicles may be held responsible for injuries caused by negligent or reckless driving. A driver’s employer may also be held liable for an accident if the driver was operating the bus while performing work duties.
Manufacturers of the Bus and/or its Parts – A bus manufacturer that sends a defective vehicle from the factory to the marketplace subjects passengers to unreasonable danger and potential harm. As a result, the bus manufacturer can be held responsible for damages when a crash occurs. Likewise, the manufacturers and retailers of defective bus parts that may have caused the bus accident could be liable for the injuries to the passengers.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards define a bus as any motorized vehicle capable of carrying more than 10 passengers. The category includes school buses, large vans used for public transport, church buses, municipal transit buses, many airport shuttles, tour buses, trolleys, and interstate carriers, such as Greyhound buses. Most of these are considered “common carriers” under the law, and are therefore subject to state and federal licensing requirements and other regulations, but it is state law that will determine if bus companies and others are liable for compensating a passenger for injuries sustained in a crash. There are many Charter and Tour bus companies operating in Texas and just some of the few that have been involved in collisions include:
It is important that the lawyer you hire is experienced and capable of navigating the state and federal laws and regulations governing all types of bus service providers, and that your attorney can determine if violation of those laws caused your accident or made your injuries or other damages worse. It is very important for a lawyer handling these cases to ensure that all potential sources of compensation are pursued, whether fault lies with the bus’s manufacturer, the bus company that hired an unqualified mechanic, or the driver of the tractor-trailer that rear-ended the bus.
It is also important for Texas bus accident lawyers to retain investigators and well-respected experts to investigate the causes of your crash. If it appears that your accident may have been caused by a dangerous road condition, your attorney will need to hire expert civil and traffic engineers to pinpoint those road deficiencies. Competent and reliable lawyers will invest the necessary resources and efforts to ensure that your case is resolved for its maximum value. Such attorneys will hire the necessary investigators and experts, visit the location of the bus crash, take images of the scene, conduct tests where necessary, find and interview witnesses and investigate prior complaints or claims that have been made against the responsible parties.
Aaron A. Herbert has extensive experience handling personal injury claims involving buses and recovering substantial settlements and verdicts for his clients injured in bus accidents. You will incur no attorney fees, court cost, or legal expenses unless you recover. Time to file is limited by Texas law, so call today to protect your right to the compensation you deserve. Call 24/7 (214) 200-4878 or toll free to (855) 655-HURT.