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San Diego has one of Southern California’s oldest public transportation systems, and bus ridership continues to increase each year. With this increase in bus traffic also comes an increase in bus accidents.
During a bus accident, it’s usually individuals in other vehicles that suffer injuries or die. Bus occupants can also suffer injuries, some of which can be fatal. If you or someone you love suffered injuries from a bus accident, the law may permit you to seek compensation.
Severe bus accident injuries are costly, and you should not have to face the economic burden of injuries caused by someone else. Bus accident claims are notoriously complex because they often include multiple parties and large insurance policies.
An experienced San Diego bus accident lawyer from Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you secure compensation to cover the costs of your injuries. Contact us today by calling us to discuss your bus accident and learn about how we can help you recover damages for your bus accident injuries.
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), buses remain one of the safest ways for people to get around; however, bus accidents still occur. Fatal school bus accidents make up almost half of fatal bus accidents across the United States, the most among all types of bus crashes. About 35 percent of fatal bus crashes occur on transit buses, and approximately 13 percent occur on intercity buses. Additionally, more than 15,000 buses per year are involved in crashes that lead to bodily injuries. Unfortunately, some of these bus accidents occur in and around San Diego.
California categorizes buses and other vehicles that charge for transportation as common carriers. Under California law, common carriers have an elevated duty of care to their passengers and others who share the road. Every driver on the road has an obligation to others to obey traffic regulations, but California’s law has particular guidelines that common carriers must follow. Bus drivers and bus companies that fail to comply with the law might face liability for damages when a bus accident occurs.
California’s common carrier law states that:
It’s common to look at the bus driver after a bus accident occurs. Negligent bus drivers cause accidents, but negligent bus companies and third parties sometimes also play a role in bus accidents. Negligent behaviors that can lead to serious, sometimes fatal bus crashes in San Diego and the surrounding area, include:
Consuming alcohol or using illegal drugs impacts a bus driver’s ability to safely transport passengers. Controlled substance use makes it difficult to operate a bus and prevents bus drivers from taking swift action in the face of road hazards or erratic drivers on the road. Federal law requires bus drivers to carry a commercial drivers’ license (CDL), which comes with stricter alcohol limits. Also, all CDL holders must submit to random drug and alcohol tests. Bus drivers and other motorists who drink and drive put passengers and others at risk for injuries from a severe bus accident.
Driving distractions include anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind away from driving. Bus drivers succumb to driving distractions, just like other motorists. Federal law does prohibit CDL holders from using cell phones while driving unless using a hands-free device. The consequences of violating cell phone laws for CDL holders are steep; however, some bus drivers are still willing to risk it. Cell phones are not the only driving distractions that bus drivers face. Other examples include unruly passengers, drinking, eating, and focusing on an event outside the bus.
The FMCSA allocates time and resources to study the relationship between sleep and driving. This research reveals that drivers who go without sleep for 18 hours suffer the same level of driver impairment as drivers who have consumed enough alcohol to register a 0.08 breath alcohol level, twice the legal limit for bus drivers and other CDL holders. Bus drivers who have untreated sleep disorders, work two jobs, or don’t get adequate rest between shifts risk causing an accident that can injure passengers and others on the road.
Buses have various owners depending on their use. The City of San Diego owns San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) buses, but specific school districts own school buses, and a range of private companies own charter buses. In Southern California, you might even come across a tour bus owned by a musician or band.
Regardless of who owns the bus, the owner has a legal obligation to perform regular maintenance inspections, stay up-to-date on preventative maintenance, and swiftly fix any problems to maintain buses in a roadworthy condition. Inadequate or improper maintenance practices can lead to mechanical failure. Breakdowns that occur at critical times can cause dangerous bus accidents. Bus owners are often partially or fully liable for damages in situations like these.
Like all vehicles, buses have weight limits. Overloading a bus with too many people interferes with a bus driver’s ability to control the vehicle, potentially leading to dangerous accidents. Overcrowding is not a common problem on school bus routes or regular MTS routes. However, special events in San Diego can overcrowd MTS buses, and private charter buses do not always follow the rules. Overloaded buses with unruly riders are the most dangerous. Too much weight interferes with the safe operation of the bus. Passengers who move around too much also shift the bus’s weight, potentially causing the bus driver to lose control.
MTS, San Diego school districts, and private transportation companies all have a legal duty to screen and hire qualified drivers and provide needed training. Sometimes, CDL holders do not have experience driving a bus, so they don’t know the added responsibilities of carrying passengers. Bus drivers have to learn a route and make frequent stops, often in heavy traffic. Learning how to perform all of these tasks requires training and practice. Bus owners, school districts, and other businesses that do not hire qualified drivers and do not offer training may face liability for damages if a bus driver’s inexperience leads to a bus accident and injuries.
Fortunately, many people walk away from bus accidents unscathed, but when severe bus accidents occur, injured victims and their families face the physical pain, emotional trauma, and financial stress that comes with serious injuries.
Examples of bus accident injuries that the skilled legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help with include:
The law permits you to seek compensation for damages after suffering injuries from a bus accident caused by negligence. You can expect your attorney to try to negotiate a settlement on your behalf to avoid costly litigation, but settlement is not always an option. If you settle, or if you go to trial, you could receive compensation for some or all of the losses that you suffered from your bus accident injuries.
Examples of common recoverable damages include:
If you lost a loved one due to fatal injuries from a San Diego bus accident, you may seek compensation for damages, depending on your relationship with the deceased. California law permits eligible family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident.
Family members could recover some compensation for the above damages and money for burial and funeral expenses. Depending on the exact circumstances, some family members might also receive compensation for non-economic damages, such as loss of parental support for children and loss of companionship for a widow or widower. Your San Diego personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case, advise you on what types of compensation you might receive, and answer more in-depth questions about wrongful death lawsuits.
Buses make frequent stops and often operate in areas with heavy traffic, making a bus accident more likely. Due to their large size, buses can cause serious damage and severe injuries to passengers and other motorists involved in an accident. Serious injuries come with physical, emotional, and financial costs that impact every aspect of someone’s life.
If you have recently sustained injuries in a San Diego bus accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, you might feel angry, depressed, and unsure about what you should do next. It’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced San Diego bus accident lawyer who can review your case and advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances. The following answers to frequently asked questions about bus accidents in San Diego offer introductory information until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney.
A two-year statute of limitations applies to most personal injury lawsuits in California, and it could apply to your San Diego bus accident. If you sustained injuries in an accident with a San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus, however, or any other city, county, or state-owned bus, a different statute of limitations applies. In these situations, you must file an administrative claim with the specific governmental agency within six months of the accident.
If the governmental agency denies your claim, you have one year to file a suit. Suing a government agency comes with strict procedural requirements and timelines, so it’s in your best interest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure everything is in order. If you do not take immediate action, you risk losing your ability to recover compensation for damages related to your bus accident and injuries.
If you sustained injuries in a bus accident while in your vehicle, you should always report it to your auto insurance provider, even if you did not cause the accident. Buses are large enough to do significant damage to vehicles, making them costly traffic accidents. Most auto insurance providers require policyholders to report any event that may implicate their policies. Failure to report the accident could result in the cancellation or non-renewal of your policy. If you need to file a claim for the accident, it’s less likely to get denied if you immediately reported it to your insurance carrier.
Yes. You should always seek medical treatment after a bus accident or any other traffic accident, regardless of how you feel. Soreness may indicate a serious invisible injury that could prove fatal if left untreated. Brain injuries, organ damage, internal hemorrhaging, and broken ribs are some injuries that might leave you sore. You might only be suffering from soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains that heal quickly, but you can’t know for sure until you let a doctor examine you.
Additionally, if you choose to bring a lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for the bus accident, you need medical documentation of your injuries. Your medical record serves as leverage for settlement negotiations and evidence for the court if your case goes to trial and makes it difficult for the other side to argue that you suffer from preexisting injuries.
If you choose to bring a lawsuit against someone for your bus accident injuries, your lawyer might advise you to name one or more defendants, depending on the facts of your case.
The most commonly named defendants in bus accident injury claims include:
We cannot provide a specific amount or financial outcome for your claim. Many factors influence the value of your claim, and the insurance company will place a value much lower than your attorney. In fact, the insurance company will likely attempt to deny your claim or at least devalue it.
The factors that will drastically impact the value of your claim include:
Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance adjuster or insurance company without first consulting a San Diego bus accident attorney. Adjusters will pretend to care about your well-being and use whatever tactic they can to sweet-talk or bully you into taking a quick settlement. You are the person who misses out if you accept the first offer out of the gate. Insurance companies sometimes make these early offers because they are fairly certain their policyholder is at-fault for an accident.
By getting you to accept the offer, insurance companies get out of paying the full value of the claim. These offers are often tempting, especially if the financial consequences of a bus accident are overwhelming. However, you should let a lawyer review the offer and use it as a jumping-off point for settlement negotiations. Once you accept an offer, you waive your right to seek future compensation, so it’s best to let your attorney fight for maximum compensation.
Lawyers and insurance providers settle the vast majority of accident injury claims before going to trial. Litigation is expensive, so both sides have the motivation to take settlement negotiations seriously. However, liability disputes, unclear facts, lowball offers, and various other situations can blow up negotiations. If your case does not settle in pre-litigation negotiations, then your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. In these cases, your attorney will fight your case out in court, and you will need to testify if the case goes all the way to trial.
It’s unlikely that you will have to go to trial, but you should always prepare for the possibility. When your attorney reviews the facts of your case, he or she can explain some potential obstacles in your case that might force litigation.
Yes. California law permits eligible family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against an at-fault bus driver, bus company, driver, or government entity to receive compensation for losing a loved one. Family members typically take two pathways to recover compensation, simultaneously filing a wrongful death action and a survivor action.
Wrongful death actions provide compensation for lost relationships with the deceased, such as loss of parental support and loss of companionship. Survival actions provide compensation for losses that occurred from the time of the bus accident until the time of death, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Yes. Everyone can afford to hire a bus accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys after sustaining injuries. Our San Diego bus accident attorneys do not charge upfront retainers, like tax attorneys or criminal defense attorneys. Potential clients contact a lawyer, set up a free consultation, and determine their next steps. Those who have a viable bus accident claim enter a contingent fee agreement with the law firm, permitting the lawyer to deduct attorney fees and other costs of representation from any settlement money or court awarded damages the client receives after the case.
Everyone knows that lawyers draft documents and file paperwork with the court, but our attorneys do much more for their clients. Their knowledge and resources benefit their clients from day one.
Some ways in which our San Diego bus accident lawyers can help include:
Hiring an attorney to handle the details of your bus accident claim also gives clients peace of mind that someone is fighting for them. Attorneys also free up time for their clients, giving them the freedom to fully concentrate on healing and recovery. If you have suffered bus accident injuries in or around the San Diego area, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
The award-winning lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have extensive experience representing those who suffer injuries in traffic accidents, including bus accidents. The firm has the knowledge and resources to investigate your accident and advocate for you each step of the way, giving you the best chance of receiving maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you sustained injuries in a San Diego bus accident, contact us today online or at 866-TRIAL LAW (866 874-2552) for a free consultation to discuss your bus accident and evaluate the viability of your San Diego bus accident claim.
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“This is the best law firm in San Diego for a reason. I was lucky to have my case picked up by the Gomez Trial Attorneys after I was struck by a car while crossing the street. This was an unexplainably painful time in my life, and, as a 22 year old college student, I did not know what to do. I met Max Halpern, who is the lawyer that represented my case, a week later. Even though I did not know at the time, I could not have been in better hands.
I kept on with my studies, daily life, and physical and mental recovery as Max silently worked hard at my case. All though out my experience, Max kept in constant contact, updating and informing me of everything I needed to know. then one day it was over and Max had won big.
I do not know if it is appropriate to share details of a settlement but I will say that this team took the ugliest, hardest, most painful experience of my life and turned it into something boundlessly positive.
I believe my life is better now for having been represented by Gomez Trial Attorneys and I will walk away from this chapter of my life forever grateful. These people are the living definition of excellence.”
Review by: Bubba E.
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