What is the value of an experienced Watch Hill RI bus accident attorney when an individual suffers harm after a bus accident?

Statistically sound means of travel.

The National Highway Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems (FARS) defines a bus as a motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine, or more persons, including the driver.  Over the ten year period from 2007 to 2017, data for buses involved in fatal crashes included intercity buses at 13%, school buses at 40% and transit buses at 35%.  Out of those fatal crashes 1% of the 230 drivers involved were 25 years of age, or younger, and 14% were 66 years of age, or older.  Recent data from 2016 accounted for a total of 268,799,083 U.S. registered vehicles, including 976,161 buses traveling over 16.3 billion miles.  In 2017, there were 73 school buses and 13 intercity buses involved in fatal crashes, the lowest numbers recorded since FARS began in 1975. The number of buses involved in fatal crashes decreased by 1% from 234 to 232 in 2017.

When individuals think of the hundreds of buses traveling across United States roadways every day, these percentages do not seem as high as one would imagine.  However, the size of the bus and the number of passengers always increases the catastrophic outcomes when a bus is involved in an accident.  If an individual is hurt, or a loved one has been injured because of a bus accident in Watch Hill Rhode Island, an experienced Watch Hill RI bus accident attorney can build a winning case for damage compensation. They are aware of the relative dangers bus travel entails and the laws that regulate inter and intrastate travel and driver proficiency in order to keep passengers safe from unnecessary accidents. 

Number of passengers and increased size.

Accidents involving school buses, tour buses, charter buses and public transit buses make news headlines around the United States on a regular basis. The large size of a bus is often a contributing factor to the inflated amount of damage and frequency of accidents on record. Watch Hill RI  Bus accidents often occur because of driver error, but there are times when they are related to a mechanical problem, dangerous roadway condition, or the fault of another driver.  Bus size can impede the ability to maneuver the vehicle in quick stops, or swerving movements to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle and is a contributing factor in some accidents.   

Because a bus is a large and heavy motor vehicle that can carry more than 9 passengers, including the driver, there is increased potential for larger monetary damage awards when litigation occurs, compared to that of a single motor vehicle accident. Negligence will need to be proven and fault could be placed on a bus driver, an owner,  a manufacturer for mechanical error, other drivers, or a bus company manager who decides on the transportation route a bus will follow.

Watch Hill RI Common carrier buses.

Buses offer a service to communities and charge a fee for the transportation service given and fall under federal common carrier laws.  Public entities and private companies offer carrier services and are regulated by local, state, and federal laws, but the federal government regulates carriers that transport passengers across state lines under the Interstate Commerce Act and individual state law regulates travel within a state. 

Watch Hill Rhode Island School buses.

 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road and children are safer taking buses to school than traveling by car.  Approximately 4-6 school aged children die every year on school transportation, that amount is less than one percent of all nationwide traffic fatalities.  Safety standards for school buses are higher than regular government controlled transit and private buses.

Federal regulations also require other passenger vehicles sharing the roadway with school buses to adhere to certain driving patterns and rules, including:

  1.     All traffic from both directions must stop on a two-lane roadway,
  2.     All traffic from both directions must stop when school bus stops for passengers on a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane,
  3.     All traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane roadway without a median strip,
  4.     All traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane highway with a center turning lane,
  5.     Only traffic following a bus must stop when on a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median strip,
  6.     Decreasing speed when approaching school buses illustrates safety awareness.

Failure to adhere to these rules could result in points and fines as determined by the severity of the infraction. 

Duty of care.

Legal responsibility for common carriers mandates a higher level of care because of paid  services to the public.  Non-commercial drivers are required to operate vehicles with reasonable care, but a common carrier must utilize  a higher degree of care to ensure the safety of passengers, and the public they serve.  When bus drivers, or companies do not observe the higher duty, it can be considered an act of negligence when injury, or property damage occurs.  A Watch Hill Rhode Island bus accident attorney will be able to outline the special rules that apply when a passenger is injured as a result of a bus accident in Watch Hill RI.

When acts of negligence are caused by the carrier due to reckless driving, speeding, driver fatigue, driving under the influence of drugs, tire damage, company maintenance failure, or insufficient driver training and screening for proper licensure, the carrier may be liable for a plethora of damages under a state’s personal injury and wrongful death tort laws.  Special rules often apply when minor children, or individuals who are ill or disabled are harmed on a bus. 

Watch Hill Rhode Island Bus accident causes.

  •         A lack of proper training for bus drivers,
  •         Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  •         Talking on the phone or texting while driving,
  •         Limitations to bus driver visibility,
  •         Aggressive driving techniques, speeding or dangerous maneuvering of bus,
  •         Sudden acceleration or braking,
  •         Poor bus maintenance,
  •         Fault of other driver of vehicle.

Driver requirements.

Bus drivers have different demands by regulation as to their safe ability to operate a passenger carrier.  The specific medically disqualifying conditions found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are hearing loss, vision loss, epilepsy, and insulin use. Drivers who require a diabetes, or vision exemption to safely drive a commercial motor vehicle are disqualified until they receive such an exemption.

Most commercial bus drivers are required  to have commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL).  The CDL regulations provide that “no person shall operate” a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)s before passing the written and driving tests required for that vehicle (§383.23(a)(1)).

 

Mandatory Insurance.

School bus. School buses are designed to transport up to 40 students at a time. Because so many people could be injured if a school bus is involved in an accident, the potential cost of the accident is much higher. As a result, increased coverage for liability is needed and governed by state law requirements outlining the amount of liability coverage required for school bus insurance. Beyond the state regulations, there may be specific coverage guidelines outlined by the school district, or by a professional group that organizes the bus drivers and owners.

Common carrier.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if a bus carries over 15 passengers, the bus must carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. Buses carrying fewer than 15 passengers must carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage. While these amounts are considered to be the minimum limits, it is rare that buses will carry more than $5,000,000 in insurance.

Statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for cases against government entities is usually different, and often shorter than individual state time limitations, making it important for bus accident injury victims to seek legal counsel who will have knowledge of the very specific and limited time frames for filing a claim against government owned bus companies.  Additionally, government entities often require special notices to be filed before initiating a legal claim against them. Individuals who have been injured, or who have a loved one that is injured in a bus accident should consult with an experienced Watch Hill RI bus accident attorney who understands the nuances of common carrier laws, and how they work with the states laws where the accident occurred.  In instances where the accident involves a privately owned bus, the statute of limitations for personal injury or wrongful death in the state where the accident occurred will be the legal guidance for timelines to file with the court.  An experienced Watch Hill Rhode Island bus accident attorney can apprise accident victims of the time constraints regarding their case for damages. 

Parties to sue.

  •         Driver of other vehicle,
  •         Government agency who controls bus,
  •         Owner(s) of bus as employer,
  •         Driver of bus,
  •         Commercial insurer of bus,
  •         Regulatory agency supporting bus safety on issues of bus manufacturer and parts manufacturer,
  •         Licensing agencies of privately owned and public transit vehicles, city, county, or state.

Watch Hill Rhode Island Bus Accident Wrongful death.

A wrongful death action can be filed in court when a person dies because of the negligent, reckless, or deliberate act of a bus driver, or a bus carrier.  Laws vary by state, but generally the following parties are allowed to bring a wrongful death claim after a Watch Hill RI bus accident causes the death of a loved one:

  • the deceased person’s surviving spouse,
  • the deceased person’s domestic partner,
  • the deceased person’ s surviving children,
  • if there is no surviving person in the deceased person’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”; that can include the deceased person’s parents, or the deceased person’s siblings, depending on who is living at the time of the deceased person’s death.

Damages in these lawsuits can include:

  • Medical bills and burial expenses,
  • Compensation for lost wages,
  • Compensation for pain and suffering,
  • Punitive damages that are intended to punish the person who caused the death.

A Watch Hill Rhode Island  bus accident attorney can guide individuals on the actions that need to be undertaken for a wrongful death claim and the assignment of damages after negligence has been proven. 

What can a victim recover from bus accident injuries?

A Watch Hill RI bus accident attorney will work with insurance companies after an accident, recognizing that the insurance adjusters may often use formulas that result in lower insurance settlement offers to close out claims quickly.  Legal counsel will then review industry-standard processes utilized for damage valuations of property, residual bodily harm, and wrongful death, and make certain the insurance company’s offer represents resultant compensatory and punitive damages to cover a victim’s losses. 

Compensatory damages. Fiscal recovery meant to address economic and non-economic losses of a victim caused by a bus accident in Watch Hill RI.  Total awards can include:

  • Economic damages for present and future loss of earnings, medical bills, current and future medical care, household expenses, and
  • Non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium or companionship.  

 Punitive damages. Each state has different guidance as to when, and if punitive damages can be awarded, usually founded on reckless, intentional, egregious, and harmful actions, resulting in the injury. Skilled Watch Hill {state_arbv} bus accident lawyers will know if they can request punitive damages, depending upon the state where the accident occurred, the underlying reason for the accident, and the resultant injury and damages to their clients.

Actions to take after a Watch Hill RI bus accidents occur.

Passengers, pedestrians, and other motor vehicle operators should know what actions to take if they are involved in a bus-related accident that negatively affects someone’s livelihood, their own livelihood, and results in damages to their person, property, or ability to earn wages. A consultation with an attorney who has experience with Watch Hill Rhode Island bus accidents will benefit bus accident victims.

A Watch Hill Rhode Island bus accident lawyer may be able to help.

A personal injury lawyer who has experience with complex insurance claims and bus accident litigation settlements can assist victims toward relief in the form of damage compensation. USAttorneys.com is a great resource to put individuals in touch with experienced bus accident lawyers who can answer questions and initiate legal action when it is required.

 

Sources.

https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-and-statistics/413361/fmcsa-pocket-guide-2018-final-508-compliant-1.pdf

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/large-trucks-and-buses-numbers

https://www.napt.org/

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/391.41

http://www.yellowbuses.org/

http://www.americanschoolbuscouncil.org/

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/part/383

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/understanding-passenger-carrier-regulations