FAQ: Bus Accidents

In the United States in 2013, according to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 18,000 bus crashes occurred that resulted in some kind of injury. If you've been injured in a bus crash, you probably have questions. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

If I've been injured in a bus accident, should I speak to an attorney?

Retaining an attorney will help you safeguard your legal rights. An attorney can also help ensure that a thorough accident investigation is performed and that all statutory deadlines are met if you decide it's in your best interests to file a claim.

Should I accept a compensation offer from the bus operator's insurance carrier?

The bus operator's insurance carrier does not have your best interests at heart. The carrier's primary interest is in reducing the amount of any payouts that may need to be made. Consulting with an attorney can help you decide upon the most effective way to protect your own interests.

What should I do if a representative from a commercial bus company contacts me after I've been injured in a bus accident?

Do not make any statements on record or sign any forms sent to you by the bus operator or its insurance carrier until you've had a chance to consult with your own attorney.

Why do bus crashes typically cause more serious injuries than car crashes?

It's an application of a basic physics formula: Force is equal to the mass of an object times its acceleration. The average weight of a bus is 60,000 pounds while the average weight of a car is only 3,000 pounds. If a car and bus traveling the same speed collide with something, the bus is going to do considerably more damage.

What should I do at the scene of the accident if my motor vehicle has been hit by a bus?

Stay calm, and call 911 immediately even if the accident doesn't appear to have been serious. If you don't know what systems in your car have been affected by the crash, it may be safest to get out of your car, but turn on your hazard lights. If you're thinking clearly enough, write down names and contact information for all parties involved in the accident and any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

I was injured while I was a passenger on a bus. Who's at fault?

This depends upon whose carelessness caused the accident. If the bus driver's negligence was to blame, then you may be able to file a claim against the company or agency that employed him or her. As a "Common carrier," bus companies have high obligations of care for their passengers. If another driver was to blame, you may be able to file a claim against that driver.

Can I sue the city if I was injured while I was a passenger riding on a city bus?

Yes, you can, but in the State of Kentucky, public entities such as municipal bus operators may be protected by sovereign immunity. The procedures for filing a claim in these instances involve a number of procedures that must take place according to a specific timeline, so it's important to consult a personal injury attorney with experience in bus accident injuries as soon as possible.

I was injured by a bus while I was walking down the street. Who's at fault?

This can vary depending upon the specific circumstances. The bus operator and his or her employer may be liable. However, if the bus driver's view was blocked because of an illegally parked car or a poorly designed municipal crosswalk, the owner of the illegally parked car or the municipality that commissioned the crosswalk may also share in the liability.

My child was injured in a school bus accident. What should I do?

If the school bus was being operated by a public school in the State of Kentucky, it's important to speak with an attorney right away. You may have the right to bring a claim against the school, but as a government entity, the school may have sovereign immunity under state law. Procedures involved in filing these types of claims differ from filing other types of claims.

How long do I have to file a civil action after I've been injured in a bus accident?

Bus accident claims in Kentucky are generally subject to a statute of limitations that extends for two years after the accident took place. If a claim is made against government entities, however, a different set of deadlines applies. An experienced bus accident lawyer can explain these to you. 

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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