In some respects, bus accidents are similar to any other type of motor vehicle accident. Most of these crashes are caused by driver error or another form of carelessness, which means that injured victims need to prove the elements of a negligence claim. These cases are relatively straightforward if the accident resulted from the driver of another vehicle striking the bus. If the accident resulted from the bus driver’s own negligence, by contrast, distinctive procedural rules may apply.
Types and Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses pose certain inherent safety risks, due to their size and structure. They are more prone to rollovers than many other vehicles, which can cause catastrophic injuries to passengers. Some buses lack seat belts, airbags, and other passenger safety devices. This means that when an accident does happen, victims are more likely to suffer serious harm. People in another vehicle that is struck by a careless bus driver also face a greater risk of serious injuries or death because the weight of the bus increases the force of the impact.
Did You Know?
A victim injured in a bus accident may be able to bring a claim against the bus driver’s employer under the theory of vicarious liability.
Some common causes of bus accidents are similar to common causes of truck accidents. Drivers may get behind the wheel while they are overly fatigued, they may lack the proper training to handle these vehicles, or they may be distracted, drunk, or drugged while driving. The employer of the bus driver may be at fault if it hired a driver who was unqualified or retained a driver who was unsafe. In other situations, the company responsible for maintaining the bus may have failed to inspect or maintain it, or the bus may be overloaded. If there was a defect in the bus or one of its components, a victim may bring a products liability claim against the manufacturer.
Notice of Claim Requirement
If you are suing another driver, a manufacturer, or someone other than the bus driver or their employer, you can follow the usual procedures of a motor vehicle collision claim. If the bus driver caused the accident, and a government entity owns or operates the bus, you may need to file a notice of claim with the appropriate government agency. You should be aware that these notices must be filed within a relatively short time period, so you should take action as soon as possible. Each state or local government provides a specific time limit for submitting the form. You will need to file a notice of claim regardless of whether you were a bus passenger or someone in another vehicle that was hit by a bus.
Filing a claim for a bus accident may be slightly different if a government entity is involved.
The notice of claim usually will describe the events leading up to the accident, including when and where it happened. It will state the claimant’s belief that the government or its employee was at fault for the accident, and it will outline the damages that the claimant suffered. It should also include the contact information of the claimant. If the notice does not include all of the required information, it will be deemed invalid, and the claimant likely will need to file a corrected version before the notice period expires.
If the government accepts your claim, you will not need to file a lawsuit. However, if the government rejects your claim or part of it, you can proceed with going to court. Even if you think that the government is unlikely to accept your claim, you need to follow these procedures because your right to pursue compensation in court hinges on complying with the requirements.