St Louis Bus Accident Lawyer
St. Louis Bus Accident Lawyer
Bus drivers and companies are legally obligated to follow traffic rules and keep passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists safe. When they fail to uphold this duty, a catastrophic bus accident can result in serious injuries, property damage, and even death.
Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a bus accident? If so, you have the legal right to pursue damages against responsible parties. The St. Louis bus accident lawyers at Injury Lawyers Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, can help you file a case against these parties and maximize the value of your settlement.
Contact our affiliate personal injury lawyers in St. Louis, MO, for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Prevalence of Bus Accidents
The United States uses over 450,000 school buses and 550,000 commercial buses for private and commercial transportation, carrying more than 360 million passengers yearly.
According to the Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, approximately 183 bus accidents occur daily (or about 67,000 accidents annually).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that 84 school buses, 15 intercity buses, and 78 transit buses were involved in fatal accidents in 2019. Injury crashes, on the other hand, involved over 127,000 large trucks and buses in the same year.
Types of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents can occur in many ways, including:
- School Bus Accidents: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a school bus-related crash as any accident involving a vehicle used as a school bus, regardless of its design. These accidents include collisions with cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and incidents involving school children getting in and out of the bus.
- Head-on Collisions: A head-on collision is an accident wherein the fronts of two vehicles strike each other. A bus involved in a head-on collision increases the risk of severe injuries to drivers and passengers due to flying debris and force of impact.
- Rear-End Collisions: A rear-end collision occurs when a vehicle hits another vehicle’s rear bumper. Depending on the impact force, this accident can cause mild to severe injuries, such as whiplash, seatbelt injuries, and fractures.
- T-Bones: These accidents, also known as side collisions, occur when a bus hits another vehicle from the side or vice versa. The impact of the crash determines the severity of potential injuries. The greater the force of impact, the higher the chances of bus passengers flying out of their seats and crashing against side windows.
- Rollovers: When a bus is speeding, hits an object, has a mechanical problem or swerves to avoid another vehicle, its size and mass can result in a rollover accident. Rollovers occur when a car tips on its side or roof and have higher fatality rates than other accident types.
- Sideswipe Accidents: These accidents involve two or more vehicles traveling parallel to each other, and one vehicle collides with the side of another. Sideswipes are most frequently caused by drivers failing to check blind spots before merging or changing lanes. When a sideswipe occurs, one or more vehicles can lose control, run off the road, or crash into other cars, pedestrians, and objects.
- Pedestrian Accidents: Negligent bus drivers can cause injury to pedestrians by driving too close to the curb, failing to yield, or swerving into the sidewalk.
- Passenger Accidents: Passengers are not only at risk of injuries in bus crashes. They can also be hurt when a driver moves the bus before they are safely in or out of it or brakes abruptly while standing inside of the bus.
- Cyclist Accidents: Motorcyclists and bicyclists are at the most significant risk of injury or death in a bus crash due to the lack of protection. Bus-related motorcycle and bicycle accidents usually occur when a bus driver fails to check their blind spots, drives too close to the bike lane, or overtakes a cyclist abruptly.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus crashes can result from the negligence of bus drivers and other drivers. Common negligence-related causes of bus accidents include:
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is the leading cause of auto accidents and is especially dangerous for large vehicles like buses. When a driver speeds, the risk of losing control and crashing into an object, car, or pedestrian is much higher. Moreover, buses require more time to slow down or come to a complete stop; speeding makes it difficult for drivers to hit the brakes, and stop in time to avoid hazards.
- Aggressive Driving: Aside from speeding, behaviors like swerving, tailgating, and road rage risk harm to everyone on the road.
- Intoxicated Driving: Drugs and alcohol can impair a driver’s judgment, coordination, concentration, and reaction time, increasing the risk of collisions.
- Driver Fatigue: Driving while tired or sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. An overfatigued bus driver may fall asleep at the wheel or lose control of the vehicle.
- Distracted Driving: A few seconds of inattention can be enough to cause a devastating car accident. When a bus driver texts, eats, drinks, or talks on the phone while driving, they have less time to react to dangerous situations before it’s too late.
- Lack of Maintenance: Bus companies must keep their vehicles in good condition to avoid mechanical failures that can cause an auto accident (e.g., tire blowouts, engine failures, broken lights). Failure to do so can put drivers, passengers, and other motorists in danger and is considered negligence. Similarly, car drivers that don’t maintain their vehicles regularly increase their chances of getting into car accidents, including bus collisions.
- Pedestrians: Pedestrian-related bus crashes can occur when a pedestrian darts out on the road in front of a bus, jaywalks or walks in restricted areas.
Other possible causes include:
- Inclement Weather: Rain, snow, ice, and fog make the roads slippery and reduce visibility. A driver that does not exercise caution accordingly can skid or slide on wet roads (hydroplaning) or fail to see an oncoming vehicle or obstacle due to poor visibility.
- Poor Road Conditions: Despite their size and mass, buses can also be prone to accidents caused by potholes, uneven pavements, and road debris. These hazards increase the chances of a bus losing control, careening off the road, or sideswiping another vehicle.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
Bus accident victims are usually left with physical injuries ranging from mild to severe, such as:
- Head and Neck Injuries: Bus passengers and car drivers involved in a bus crash can sustain injuries on the head or neck, such as concussions, whiplash, and contusions. Severe head injuries can lead to brain hemorrhaging, intracranial hematomas, and skull fractures.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Damage to the vertebrae of the spinal column can lead to life-altering conditions, such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, and paralysis. In worst cases, a spinal cord injury can lead to permanent paralysis below the injured site.
- Fractures: A bus accident can produce enough force to break the bones of passengers and drivers. Passengers usually sustain fractures from colliding with seats, poles, and windows, while drivers typically break their bones on steering wheels, crumpled metal, and seatbelts.
- Lacerations: Debris such as broken glass, twisted metal, or plastic shards can cause deep cuts on victims’ skin, potentially leading to significant bleeding, infection, and scarring.
- Crushing Injuries: A person that gets crushed between two or more objects in a bus accident may experience organ, muscle, and nerve damage in their trapped body parts. Crush injuries are relatively common in bus or truck accidents when victims are more likely to get trapped under a large vehicle.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Sprains, strains, and other soft tissue injuries occur when a person stretches or tears their ligaments, muscles, or tendons.
- Amputation: Severe bus accidents can lead to instant dismemberment or severe injuries that warrant amputation later.
- Internal Injuries: Blunt force trauma to an organ (e.g., kidneys, liver, spleen) can lead to organ death, coma, and internal bleeding. Severe internal bleeding can cause death even with treatment.
What to Do if You are Involved in a Bus Accident
Bus accident scenes usually become chaotic due to multiple people involved. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it helps to know what you need to do:
- Get to Safety. If you are a bus passenger, get out of the bus immediately and go to the sidewalk. If you are a car driver, pull off to the side of the road to avoid further accidents or impeding traffic.
- Call the Authorities. Call 911 immediately. Ask for multiple ambulances if there are two or more people with severe injuries. The police will also show up to document the scene and assist the victims.
- Document the Accident Scene. Unless you have to go to the hospital for immediate treatment, try to document the scene to the best of your ability. Take pictures of the vehicles involved. Write down license plate numbers, drivers’ contact information, and numbers of possible witnesses. Also, try to see if any nearby surveillance cameras may have caught your accident.
- Go to the Hospital. It’s crucial to go to a doctor to have your injuries assessed. Even if you feel fine, there may be underlying injuries that have yet to manifest in physical symptoms. Seeking medical attention after the bus accident will ensure you receive immediate treatment and have your condition recorded by a medical professional.
- Record The Effects of Your Accident. Keep a record of your physical pain, ongoing emotional trauma, and financial losses (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.) so you can easily demonstrate how much the accident affected you when you file a legal claim.
- Call a Bus Accident Attorney. Before filing a personal injury claim against responsible parties, call a bus accident attorney that can help you build a strong case and ensure you receive a fair settlement. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced St. Louis bus accident lawyer from our team as soon as possible.
Who is Liable in a Bus Accident?
Depending on your case’s circumstances, the liable party may be the bus driver, another motorist, the bus company, or another entity. Your bus accident attorney will help you determine who is to blame, which can be:
The Bus Driver
Human error is the leading cause of vehicle accidents, and bus accidents are no different. A St. Louis bus driver may be held liable for an accident if it is caused by:
- Distracted driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to adjust to weather conditions
- Failing to yield when required
The Bus Company
Bus companies have a legal duty to ensure the safety of their drivers, passengers, and other motorists. A bus company may be liable if the accident occurs due to:
- Inadequate bus maintenance
- Inexperienced drivers
- Lack of safety equipment
- Overscheduling, resulting in overfatigued drivers
Our lawyers handle personal injury cases against charter buses, city buses, party buses, and more.
If a driver of another vehicle contributes to your bus accident case, they should also share responsibility for the resulting injuries and damages.
Pedestrians can cause bus accidents in many ways, including:
- Darting out onto the road
- Walking in restricted areas
- Crossing the street while distracted
The School District
Even if the accident is caused by the negligence of a school bus driver, the school district may still be held partially responsible. A school district may be held liable for a St. Louis bus accident for the following reasons:
- Hiring improperly licensed drivers
- Hiring drivers with criminal records
- Failing to conduct drug tests
- Lack of maintenance on school buses
A Government Entity
Missouri has a sovereign immunity law, which protects government and public employees from personal injury lawsuits. However, according to the Missouri Revised Statute §537.600, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against a government or public entity if your injury resulted from:
- A public employee driving a motor vehicle within the course of their employment
- A dangerous condition on public property, e.g., potholes, defective roadway design, etc.
Missouri provides liability coverage for agencies and employees through the State Legal Expense Fund. You must file your claim to the Missouri Office of Administration Risk Management Division within 90 days of the accident. Talk to a St. Louis bus accident lawyer if you are unsure how to proceed.
Filing a St. Louis Bus Accident Claim
Negligence can easily cause serious accidents, putting the lives of passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers in danger. Regardless of who is directly responsible for your bus accident, you have the right to seek legal compensation for your injuries and damages.
An experienced bus accident attorney can help you file a personal injury case against at-fault parties. First, you must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you (everyone has a duty of care to prevent injury to others within reason)
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- This breach resulted in the bus accident
- The accident directly led to your injuries and other losses
It is often challenging to prove fault in a bus accident without substantial evidence. For this reason, your St. Louis bus accident attorney will gather as much proof as possible to build your case, such as:
- Photos of your bus accident injury
- Medical records
- Surveillance and dash cam footage
- Documentation of the accident scene
- Police reports
- Witness accounts
- Expert testimony
Your St. Louis bus accident lawyer may also ask you for additional records to demonstrate the extent of your damages, such as medical bills, lost income, psychological evaluations, etc. You learn more about viable evidence during your free consultation.
Our bus accident attorneys will help you file a solid personal injury claim to recover compensation for the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for treatment costs, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, and anticipated future medical expenses.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your bus accident injury leads to permanent disability. These damages may include loss of future earning capacity, mobility aid expenses, and rehabilitation.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for non-economic damages, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental trauma, etc.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for wages and income lost while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost following the accident.
- Property Damage: Compensation for personal property lost or damaged in the accident.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one is involved in a fatal crash, including funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, and grief.
The maximum compensation for St. Louis bus accidents varies depending on the extent of damages and other applicable factors. During your free consultation, your bus accident attorney will estimate the potential value of your settlement based on your case’s specifics to give you an idea of how much you deserve.
Reaching a Settlement
Depending on your case’s circumstances, multiple parties could be responsible for paying for your damages. For instance, if a bus driver or bus service is to blame, the bus company’s insurance provider may offer you a settlement (their employer’s liability insurance typically covers bus drivers).
If another driver shares responsibility for the accident, you could also recover compensation from their car insurance company.
In any case, you must have an experienced bus accident lawyer to help you handle insurers. Do not accept the initial offer right away. Instead, let your St. Louis bus accident lawyer negotiate with the insurance company for a better offer.
Other Legal Options
Our personal injury lawyers also handle St. Louis bus accidents in court. We can help you file a personal injury lawsuit if:
- The defendant’s insurance company refuses to make a better offer
- The defendant denies liability for your bus accident injury
Your case will go to civil court, where a judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties to determine a verdict. This process is called litigation and may take more than a year to resolve.
If you want to avoid litigation and receive compensation as soon as possible, our lawyers can help you pursue damages through mediation or arbitration. Your bus accident attorney will discuss all your legal options during your free consultation.
Statute of Limitations in St. Louis, MO
According to Missouri law, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is five years from the date of the underlying incident. Our personal injury lawyers will help you file your case on time to avoid losing critical evidence or missing the deadline.
The Role of Your Bus Accident Attorney
Our skilled bus accident lawyers handle all kinds of bus accident cases, including charter bus crashes, bus-motorcycle collisions, multiple-vehicle accidents, and more. To win bus accident lawsuits and claims for their clients, our attorneys:
- Conduct thorough investigations on how the bus accidents occurred
- Establish the liability of responsible parties
- Determine the extent of victims’ injuries and losses
- File legal claims against insurance providers
- Negotiate with insurers for maximum compensation
- File personal injury lawsuits, if necessary
- Help victims file liability claims against government entities if needed
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced St. Louis Bus Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a bus accident, you have the legal right to seek financial compensation from responsible parties. These may include the driver and their employer, the insurance company, other drivers, and other entities involved.
The skilled St. Louis personal injury lawyers at Injury Lawyers Team will help you with every step of your bus accident case. Talk to an experienced bus accident attorney today to learn more about how you can recover fair compensation for your damages.
Contact our personal injury lawyers in St. Louis, MO, for a free case evaluation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our services unless we win your case.