Public Transportation Personal Injury Lawyer
When you ride a bus, train or other form of public transportation, you trust that you will be transported with the utmost safety. When that trust is violated and you’re injured as a result, it can cause tremendous pain and upheaval both for you and your family—not to mention serious financial losses due to medical bills and lost wages. When you experience injury due to the negligence of others, you have the legal right to hold those at fault accountable—even if the fault is with the government agency operating the public transportation.
The personal injury attorneys of Luis P. Guerra, LLC, have years of experience in helping Arizona injury victims receive the compensation they deserve, including those injured in bus accidents. We have successfully won millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and while individual results are not guaranteed, we approach each case with compassion, dedication and a fierce determination to defend our clients’ right to full compensation.
Common Carrier Laws in Arizona
Any form of public transportation, be it bus, train or boat, is considered a “common carrier” in the state of Arizona. Under the “common carrier” doctrine, the government agencies or management companies operating these transports are responsible to provide the “highest degree of care” in ensuring passengers’ safety, from the conditions at the bus stop to the operation of the bus itself. For you as an injury victim, this means the transportation company/agency can be held to even a higher standard of accountability for negligence than if you were in a collision with an at-fault driver of a personal vehicle.
Types of Bus Accidents
Given the complexity of bus accident cases, it isn’t surprising that they can come in so many forms. Some of the most common varieties of bus accident claims are:
School Bus Accidents
Before any child boards a school bus, their parents or guardians trust the driver to transport them to and from school safely. However, this isn’t always the outcome. Whenever school bus accidents occur, innocent children can suffer serious injuries. Whether the negligence was on the driver or the school district’s part, families must receive the compensation they’re owed.
Public Transit Bus Accidents
There are many upsides to accessible public transportation—it’s inexpensive, convenient, and even eco-friendly. Although public transport is a positive resource for many communities, crashes do sometimes occur.
Because these buses are being burdened by such extensive mileage daily, this can eventually take a toll on the vehicle. In addition, if the bus isn’t correctly maintained and the damage isn’t addressed in a timely manner, the likelihood of a bus accident will increase.
No matter which government organization is in charge of the public transport system, they are responsible for keeping the vehicles safe to drive. If the organization fails in this duty, this is an act of negligence.
Freight Bus Accidents
Generally, a freight bus will be used to transport cargo. Sometimes, other individuals (aside from the driver) will also be on board.
Although the load these buses can carry is large, it isn’t infinite—there will always be a weight limit. Unfortunately, this limit isn’t always strictly adhered to. As a result, whenever a freight bus becomes overloaded, it will be considerably more challenging for the driver to control their vehicle. Occasionally, drivers of overloaded freight buses might also struggle to bring their vehicles to a stop. This can result in serious accidents, often leading to catastrophic injury.
Commercial, Private, or Charter Buses
There are many reasons for a charter or private bus to be on the road. These vehicles can be used for private parties, touring events, and much more. However, if a luxury bus is poorly handled and experiences an accident, serious injury can result.
The Importance of Proving Negligence in a Bus Accident Claim
For any personal injury claim to succeed, the victim will need to prove the opposing party’s negligence—this includes during bus accident claims.
Negligence is what occurs when an individual fails to uphold their duty of care. This means that the party in question has behaved in a manner unlike the way another reasonable party would act if they were placed in an identical situation.
During a typical bus accident claim, negligence can take on many potential forms. It is also possible for several parties to be responsible for the negligent behavior—not only the bus drivers themselves. For instance, if a public transportation vehicle wasn’t adequately maintained, and this is what led to the crash, the party responsible for maintaining and ensuring the vehicle’s safety would be at fault.
If you would like to be awarded damages during a bus accident claim, you must use evidence to demonstrate the opposing party’s negligence. One of the most effective ways to prove negligence is working with an experienced bus accident lawyer in Phoenix.
Examples of Negligence
While most public transportation makes every effort to be safe, negligence may still occur in many different ways, often leading to injury accidents Some common examples of negligence:
- Improperly trained bus operators
- Bus operators under the influence of alcohol, drugs or fatigue due to overwork
- Bus operators driving recklessly or carelessly
- Buses that aren’t properly maintained
- Buses that are filled with passengers beyond a safe capacity
Unsafe conditions at bus stops or stations (e.g., slippery surfaces or lack of security)
Liability During a Bus Crash
The party responsible for the negligent behavior will be deemed liable for the accident. However, the liable party during a bus accident claim isn’t always straightforward, and it can vary from case to case.
Some examples of potential liable parties during a bus accident are:
The Bus Driver
This is perhaps the most straightforward scenario—when the bus driver is at fault for the accident. If the driver is deemed liable, it also means that, by extension, the bus company employing the driver is liable.
There are several ways a bus driver can behave negligently on the road. For instance, they could speed, disobey traffic laws, carelessly change lanes, fail to pay attention, run red lights, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and more. Another known issue involves bus drivers falling asleep at the wheel, possibly due to the long hours spent on the road.
The Bus Company (or the Bus Owner)
Typically, if a bus driver behaves negligently, the bus company (or whichever party owns the bus) will also be considered liable. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure its drivers are adequately trained, licensed, and supervised.
Further, the bus company’s responsibility is to ensure that the bus is correctly maintained and that it receives any necessary repairs. Buses must also possess safety features that are required by law. These features must also be functioning correctly at all times. Otherwise, if a crash occurs, the bus company (or owner) will be the party at fault.
The Party That Maintains the Bus
Sometimes, the bus’s owner won’t be the party in charge of maintaining the vehicle. However, if this party failed to maintain the bus adequately, they could be deemed liable for the crash.
The Bus’s (or Bus Part’s) Manufacturer
Occasionally, a defective part will cause a driver to lose control over their vehicle, leading to the crash. In these cases, whoever manufactured the bus (or the individual defective part) will be considered liable for the accident.
Additionally, if someone’s injuries are worsened due to a defect (whether or not that defect caused the crash), this would also be considered negligent behavior. This means that the injured party would be able to collect damages from the manufacturer.
The Government or Construction Company
It is also possible for a poorly constructed or maintained road to cause a bus accident. In these cases, either the state or local government would be deemed liable for the crash. Of course, it’s also possible that any construction company behind the road would be a liable party, as well.
It isn’t always the bus’s driver who is responsible for an accident. In some cases, other drivers on the road will be the ones at fault. In addition, if any of the other liable drivers were on the job at the time of the crash, their employers could also be held liable, by extension.
The School Board or District
When a school bus gets into an accident, it is often the school board or school district that will be held liable. Generally, this is due to improper school bus maintenance or the failure to establish and successfully enforce safety procedures and guidelines.
The Cruise Line or Tour Operator
In addition, both cruise lines and tour operators can improperly maintain or drive a bus. One of these parties could also be deemed liable if they sold a tour package that the bus was a part of.
Also, keep in mind that more than one party could be held liable for a bus accident. For example, if several of the parties listed above contributed to the crash, they will all be considered partially liable.
Damages Recovered Following a Bus Accident
Following a bus accident, damages can come from many possible sources. This all depends upon the circumstances and complexity of the crash.
In Arizona, those involved in personal injury cases (including bus accident cases) could receive two types of damages: compensatory or punitive. Within each of these categories, as well, there are several types of damages.
These are the more commonly awarded types of damages in a bus accident claim. Compensatory damages are based upon the injuries or other losses suffered by the victim due to the accident. Essentially, the purpose of these damages is to “compensate” the injured party for what they have lost. More specifically, these losses must be a result of the opposing party’s negligent behavior.
Compensatory damages can be collected as a result of:
- Medical bills incurred (including doctor or emergency room visits, prescription bills, etc.)
- Lost income (both past or future—lost earning potential can also be a factor)
- Legal fees (court costs, attorney fees, missed work, etc.)
- Property damage (such as damage to the vehicle)
- Pain and suffering (a reduction in quality of life, whether it’s related to physical pain or the psychological impact)
- Emotional trauma (often involving anxiety, fear, or insomnia)
If the opposing party’s negligence is particularly egregious, then the victim might also seek out punitive damages. Rather than compensate the plaintiff for their losses, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the at-fault party for their actions. Not all bus accident claims will include punitive damages.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
The injuries sustained in a bus accident are often severe. Those in smaller vehicles or cars are typically the ones to suffer the brunt of the damage due to the difference in size and weight. Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for bus accident injuries to be catastrophic. It is even possible that a bus accident will result in wrongful death.
Some of the most common types of bus accident injuries are:
Spinal Cord Injuries or Traumatic Brain Injuries
If the force of the accident causes the individual’s head to violently whip around or slam onto another surface, this can lead to a host of serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries.
Both spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries come in varying degrees of severity. For instance, if an individual damages their spinal cord in a bus accident, the precise location will significantly affect the outcome. If the fracture or other injury occurs near the top of the spinal cord (closest to the brain), this will lead to the most severe injuries. Often, fractures to the top section of the spinal cord will result in death or permanent paralysis. While damage to the lower regions of the spinal cord can also lead to permanent disability, it often won’t be as debilitating.
Traumatic brain injuries, on the other hand, can be either penetrating or closed. A penetrating TBI occurs when external matter pierces through either the skull or brain.
Some common examples of TBIs due to bus accidents are:
- Intracranial hematomas
- Brain hemorrhages
- Coup-contrecoup brain injury
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI)
- Second impact syndrome
It is common for bus accidents to result in broken bones, whether it’s due to the impact of the crash or another variable. The severity of broken bones varies substantially—victims could experience simple broken bones that will heal over time, or they could suffer crushing injuries requiring several surgeries. In particularly severe instances, broken bones can lead to permanent disability.
Cuts and Lacerations
Glass, metal, pavement, and more can be the source of cuts and lacerations during a bus accident. If this debris leads to a severe laceration, the victim could experience dangerous levels of blood loss, as well as tissue damage. Scarring or permanent disfigurement could be the result. Further, if one of these injuries becomes infected, this could put the individual in a life-threatening situation.
The enormous heft of a bus, especially compared to most other vehicles on the road, means that other drivers or pedestrians will be at a high risk of developing internal injuries. This occurs when the individual’s body absorbs the significant force of the accident.
Here are examples of common internal injuries, which could be suffered during a bus accident:
- Kidney damage
- Punctured lungs
- Internal hemorrhaging
- Liver lacerations
Any internal injuries must be discovered and treated promptly. Otherwise, they could quickly become fatal.
How Much Does a Bus Accident Lawyer Cost?
To start, how much you pay your Phoenix bus accident attorney will largely depend on the complexity of the case. Your attorney’s reputation and level of experience will also play a role.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that their client won’t owe them any payment unless damages are awarded through the claim. If their client fails to collect any damages, then they don’t owe the attorney any payment. However, if damages are awarded, the client will typically be required to pay their lawyer a certain percentage of those earnings.
Passion For Justice
Bringing a personal injury lawsuit against a government agency may feel intimidating, but our Phoenix injury attorneys know the law inside and out, and we know how to represent your interests and protect your rights. We conduct thorough investigations, examine the evidence, and work with accident reconstruction teams to prove negligence and hold the transportation authority accountable. We will fight to get you every dollar of compensation you deserve so you can get your life back on track.
Representation Without Risk | Top Phoenix Bus Accident Lawyers
We never want any bus accident victim to be afraid of legal costs, which is why we only work on a contingency basis. We only get paid if we win compensation on your behalf. If you’ve been injured in a public transportation accident in Arizona, call Luis Guerra at 602-381-8400 today for a free, no-risk consultation.