If you or a loved one recently got hurt in a bus accident, the Lakewood injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs are here to help. Sometimes the cheapest or most convenient way to get from point A to point B is to ride a bus. But while buses serve an essential purpose for schoolchildren and adults alike, they also come with an inherent risk. Anyone who rides a bus is putting their life in the hands of a driver they likely do not know. Most bus drivers are careful and experienced, but for those who are not, the massive vehicle they are handling can become a death trap for passengers inside and a hazard to other drivers on the road.
At The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs, our Lakewood bus accident attorneys believe that negligent bus drivers and companies should pay for the injuries they cause. If you or someone you love gets hurt in a bus accident, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help. We serve bus accident victims in the following areas:
We will handle your case carefully and fight aggressively to help you win the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us at (253) 588-6696 to learn how we can help you through this challenging time.
Causes of Bus Accidents
With their huge size and numerous passengers, buses usually have much more going on inside than most cars. With these additional concerns come additional hazards. Here are some of the common causes of bus accidents:
- Driver distraction: Bus passengers can be unpredictable, whether children or adults. Loud or unruly passengers or arguments between multiple passengers can sometimes distract drivers, who then divert their attention from the road and risk colliding with someone or something.
- Maintenance issues: Many buses are in almost constant operation. Bus companies or school districts may skimp on routine maintenance and ignore driver-reported issues to keep their buses running on time. Sometimes a tire will blow out, or the brakes will fail because of this negligence.
- Other negligent business practices: When bus companies or school districts hire drivers with a history of traffic offenses or work their employees for too many hours, they may be partially responsible for any resulting crashes.
- Other drivers: Some drivers don’t pay close enough attention when driving near buses, which take up large amounts of space and make wide turns and frequent stops. Often, it is distracted or inattentive drivers of other cars that cause bus accidents. Since buses are large and unwieldy, they may be more prone than the smaller cars hitting them to roll over, potentially hitting even more vehicles.
- Hazardous weather or road conditions: Because of their size and weight, buses need deliberate and careful maneuvering through traffic. Any sudden movements can cause a loss of control. Bad weather and road hazards can compromise the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle, sometimes leading to accidents safely.
- Manufacturing or design defect equipment: There are times that defective equipment may have caused the bus to be inherently unsafe to operate. This could have been the result of a manufacturing or design defect. Defects can occur in braking devices, fuel systems, safety equipment, and other mechanisms.
Any of these factors can lead to dangerous or even deadly accidents, particularly when the bus rolls over, sending passengers flying and putting other cars in danger. Whatever caused your bus accident, The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs is equipped and ready to take on your case.
School Bus Accidents
Every parent wants to believe that when they send their kids to school, they can go about their day with the peace of mind that their kids are in safe hands. Unfortunately, parents’ trust in the school system can be shattered when the bus carrying their children crashes. School buses often have hard, metal interiors and no seat belts, allowing children to be thrown about in a metal cage even if the walls of the bus remain intact. Most school buses include emergency exits, but unfortunately, many children never make it out after a crash.
If your child got hurt or died in a school bus accident in Washington State, you, as their parent, have the legal right to bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim on their behalf. Generally speaking, for public schools, bus drivers are school district employees. You may wish to sue the school district, although as a government entity, it may have some special privileges. You may also wish to sue other drivers if they were at fault.
Whatever the specifics of your case, the Lakewood bus accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs can help you decide how best to handle your school bus injury case.
Who Is Responsible for the Bus Accident?
Bus accident cases are often more complicated than most car accidents, involving multiple actors and multiple levels of responsibility. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may wish to sue:
- The bus driver
- The bus company
- The school district
- Other drivers
- Other passengers
Generally, individuals tend to have fewer assets than companies or entities like school districts, so it is often less profitable to sue the bus driver. However, the specifics of your case may make that a wise option. In any case, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you sort through the complicated details and decide whom to sue — it may be more than one party.
Issues Unique to Bus Accident Claims
Filing a claim after a bus accident is not as easy as making a claim for an accident involving only passenger vehicles. When it is the latter, you can usually take legal action directly against the negligent driver. On the other hand, if a bus is involved, filing a claim can be more complex depending on which party is at fault.
If you are a passenger on the bus and the other driver is at fault, then you can make a third-party claim against that driver. However, if the bus driver is at fault, you will have to pursue your claim against the bus driver and the bus service operator. The process can be challenging since most buses are owned or operated by government entities, such as a school district. Typically, it will mean filing a “notice of claim” quickly, often within 30 days or less.
Since making these claims can be quite different than what is familiar to most people, you should turn to a lawyer who knows the legal protocols for dealing with bus carriers.
Recovering Damages in a Bus Accident Claim
Injuries resulting from a bus accident can be life-altering or even deadly. These injuries can take a severe toll on your finances. If you or your loved one gets hurt in a bus accident, you can sue to recover damages for many of the resulting costs, including:
- Medical bills
- Car repairs, if you were driving and hit by a bus
- Lost wages due to time off work
- Future lost income
- If your child got hurt, the cost of taking time to care for them
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Other miscellaneous recovery-related costs
- Wrongful death
Your lawyer will help you determine which damages to seek and pursue them aggressively. If you are up against a large bus company or school district, they are likely to mobilize their abundant resources to build their case quickly, so you must act as soon as possible to start building your case.
What to Do After Being Injured in a Bus Accident
If you have been hurt in a bus accident, you must take certain steps to protect yourself and your legal claim if you need to file one:
- Call 911 – Your first step should be to call 911. This will summon first responders to the scene. It will also prompt the police to file an official accident report.
- Seek medical attention – Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may receive treatment at the scene of the accident or at the hospital. However, symptoms of trauma are not immediately evident. They can manifest later. So, getting examined by a medical professional and treated immediately after an accident is prudent. When you see a doctor or clinic right after the accident, you establish a causal relationship between your injuries and the accident, which will be useful in your claim.
- Avoid making statements – Refrain from outwardly making any conclusions about the severity of your injuries or any pre-existing medical conditions you may have until you have consulted with an attorney.
- Document everything – If you can, document the accident and your injuries. This can include pictures of the accident scene, names and contact information of witnesses and other passengers, and noting all the details you can recollect about the accident.
- Contact a skilled bus accident lawyer – Pursuing legal action after a bus crash can be difficult. You will need to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Your lawyer will work to determine the cause of the accident, the parties who may be liable, and how much compensation you’re owed.
If you or someone you love got hurt in a bus accident, the Lakewood bus accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs are ready to fight for you. With attorneys serving Lakewood, Tacoma, Olympia, Puyallup, Chehalis, and Bremerton, we can work with you where you are. Our firm has been recovering damages for personal injury victims for over sixty years. For more information on how we can help in your case, call us now at (253) 588-6696.