While Washington bus accidents may not be as common as other motor vehicle accidents, bus accident can often lead to serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Through the inherent large size, weight, length, and sheer mechanics of buses, they can pose a dangerous threat to both riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists who share the road.
According to the latest 2014 Washington Annual Crash Summary, there were an estimated 631 reported bus-involved collisions that year. There are various types buses of our Puget Sound road ways, including:
Public transit: King County Metro Transit, Pierce Transit, and Intercity Transit provide public transportation services to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and the surrounding cities. Transit bus accidents are primarily from brake failure, poor visibility or blind spots, mechanic defects, and under-trained or fatigued bus drivers.
School: Millions of children ride school buses on daily basis. School buses rarely have seat belts, which can arguably lead to an increased risk of injuries in the event of an accident. Currently, only six states require seat belts in school buses (California, Florida, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, and Texas). This is a vast difference from the nation-wide click-it-or-ticket laws that we see applied for motor vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the greatest risk is not riding the bus to school, it’s approaching and leaving the bus. Injuries can include but are not limited to: passenger slips or falls while boarding or leaving a bus, or bus drivers hitting students on the road with the bus or bus mirrors, and much more.
Charter or tour buses: Charter buses include greyhound buses or coaches that take passengers long-distances or to tourist destinations. Although there are regulations in place governing the operations of charter or tour bus companies, accidents occur frequently and your Washington bus accident attorney can help you determine who is liable.
Shuttles or transportations vans: Most hotels and airport companies provide shuttles to transport passengers between the airports, hotels or other tourist destinations. Various cities in King and Pierce County also provide shuttle services, primarily for disable or elderly residents who are unable to ride public transportation.
In Washington and throughout the United States, buses are considered to be common carriers. A common carrier is an individual or entity who business is to transport people or property in exchange for a fee. Carriers are responsible for the highest degree of care for the safety of its passengers. Carrier operators or companies may be held liable for the injuries of passengers, if proven negligent.
However, there can be multiple parties responsible for a bus accident and it’s incredibly important to determine the cause and liabiity soon as possible. The most common reasons for a bus accident is driver negligence, such as through simple error, fatigue, or distracted driving.
Along with driver negligence, there can be other contributing factors involved in a bus accident, such as unsafe road design, improper maintenance, or defective mechanical parts. Manufacturers of bus equipment, management companies and government entities may also be responsible. Pursuing a claim for your bus accident injury may depend on whether the bus was operated by a private company (e.g. tour bus) or a government entity (e.g. public transit or a school bus).
Because of the legal complexities involved with bus accidents, it’s important to have an experienced and knowledgeable Washington personal injury attorney by your side. Whether the driver, the company who manufactured the bus, the premise, or government entities are responsible for your bus-related injuries, my team and I at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel will take the necessary steps to fight for your case and obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bus accident, I welcome you to give me a call today to set up a complimentary legal consultation regarding your personal injury case.