Bus accidents claim the lives of about a dozen school children every year in America, and thousands of other school-age children get hurt in bus accidents annually; for a total of more than 5.76 billion miles per year, this safety record may seem relatively good – particularly when compared with motorcycle and bicycle accident rates, which are much higher per mile traveled.
Public transit buses, shuttles, private motor coaches, airport passenger vans and commercial buses transport passengers over nearly 1 billion miles of road each year in the United States. Although National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics suggest that riding a commercial bus may be safer than riding a motorcycle (or even driving in certain cars and trucks), when bus accidents do occur the number of victims, as well as the extent and severity of injuries, tend to be devastating.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bus accident it is crucial to contact an Indianapolis bus accident lawyer to begin building your case. An experienced accident attorney in Indianapolis can assist in guiding you through the legal process and ensuring that your rights are taken care of.
Common Injuries in Bus Accidents
Because of its size and weight, a bus has the potential to crush smaller cars during an accident. Even if the accident is not so severe, passengers can be pushed around inside the vehicles, which can result in injuries.
Potential injuries suffered by passengers in cars involved in a crash with a bus include:
- Broken bones
- Severe lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic head and/or brain injuries
The injuries sustained by passengers in the bus can be almost as severe. Buses traveling forward carry a large amount of energy due to their large mass. A sudden stop—especially in vehicles without seatbelts—can propel passengers forward into other seats or windows, possibly causing significant physical harm.
Proving Negligence in a Bus Accident
During a bus accident, both bus passengers and car drivers on the road can be injured. The injured person must prove the bus driver operated their vehicle in a negligent way. Negligence is a legal term which requires that the plaintiff prove the defendant owed them a duty of care, and that this duty of care was broken.
In collisions, a plaintiff’s case can be made particularly strong if they prove the bus driver was violating a rule of the road at the time of the accident. This will almost always be considered a breach of their duty of care.
Bus drivers also have a duty to protect their passengers since they are a common carrier—in other words, they take on passengers for a fare. If people are injured while riding a bus, the driver and the parent company are legally responsible. This can be the result of a collision with another vehicle, or simply due to reckless driving on the part of the bus driver.
Indianapolis School Transportation-Related Accidents
Accidents involving school transportation vehicles tend to be among the most devastating that Indianapolis bus accident attorneys deal with, as these often involve innocent children under the age of 19, who are either on their way to or from school.
According to NHTSA, 1,214 school transportation-related accidents took place in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013. In these accidents:
- 1,344 people, or an average of 134 per year, lost their lives.
- 8 percent of the fatalities involved children and other occupants of school transportation vehicles, while 21 percent of the fatalities involved non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- In 71 percent of school transportation-related accidents, occupants of other vehicles were the ones who suffered fatal injuries.
- Of the 106 school transportation occupants killed in vehicle-related collisions between 2004 and 2013, drivers accounted for 45 of them and passengers accounted for the remaining 61.
- 116 school-age children were killed while pedestrians in collisions involving school transportation vehicles.
Filing Suit in Indianapolis
In many personal injury cases, the defendant is the person who caused the accident. In bus accident cases, though, the situation can become more complex. If the bus is run by a municipal authority or agency, the city or county that operates it is the appropriate defendant.
If the bus is operated by a private company, that company will likely be a co-defendant along with the driver. The company itself is responsible for all the actions of their employees due to the legal concept of agency. As such, a defendant company may be held responsible for improper training programs or negligent hiring.
Indianapolis has its own specific procedures for initiating personal injury lawsuits that are significantly different than filing a lawsuit in local court. Indianapolis bus accident attorneys examine every case to determine the proper defendant and the correct forum to hear the case.
Indianapolis Bus Accident Lawyer
Bus accident claims can be unexpectedly complex. Not only does a plaintiff need to prove that the bus driver was negligent, they may also need to choose the correct defendants and forum for their claim before they can bring it to court. An Indianapolis bus accident lawyer can help you navigate these processes and work towards a positive result in your case. Contact today to see how they can help you.