Texas Bus Accident Lawyer
Houston Bus Accident Attorneys
Bus accidents can cause serious devastation to passengers on the bus as well as to drivers of other vehicles, pedestrians, or motorcycle riders who are involved in a collision. Because buses are so large and often carry multiple passengers, the potential for injury is great when a bus accident occurs, and often serious injury results.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident, it is advisable to get legal help as soon as possible to understand your rights. There are many legal complexities involved with knowing who can be held responsible for a bus accident, and the sooner you contact an attorney for assistance, the better your chances are of getting determining who the responsible parties are.
At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., our experienced bus accident lawyers have represented many clients who suffered injury as a result of a bus accident. Call us for a free consultation.
School Bus Accident Statistics
Texas School Bus Injuries
According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), there were more than 2,000 school transportation accidents in the 2015-16 school year. More than 90% of these accidents involved district-owned school buses, with only a handful attributable to contractor vehicles.
While most of these accidents involved only property damage, 442 student passengers and 52 adult passengers were injured in school bus accidents. In the same year, 72 school bus drivers and 15 pedestrians were injured, and 2 students riding buses were killed. Most of the students injured were not wearing seat belts.
U.S. School Transportation Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aggregated data on school transportation accidents across a ten-year period. Nationwide, there were 1,222 fatal school transportation accidents between 2003 and 2012, resulting in 1,353 fatalities. While some of those fatalities included passengers on the school bus and pedestrians, more than 70% of those killed in school transportation accidents were occupants of other vehicles.
Fewer than half of pedestrians killed in school transportation-related accidents were school-aged: 119 versus 125 adults. 42 pedestrian fatalities involved children aged 5-7. 70% of pedestrian fatalities occurred as a result of the pedestrian being struck by a school bus or other school transportation vehicle.
Who Is Responsible For a Bus Accident?
Determining who is legally responsible for school-bus-related injuries or fatalities can be complicated. Some potential responsible parties to look at are:
- The bus driver
- A private bus company
- The school bus manufacturer
- The school district
- The driver of another vehicle involved in the crash
Bus Driver Liability. In many cases, bus accidents occur when the driver of the bus is negligent and fails to operate the vehicle with the caution that would be expected of a reasonable commercial driver. For example, the driver may run a red light, drive above the speed limit, follow someone too closely, fail to obey traffic signals, drive too quickly for weather conditions, failure to check blind spots when changing lanes, or otherwise take unnecessary and dangerous chances. The bus driver may also be distracted and not pay sufficient attention to bike riders, pedestrians, motorcycle riders and others who the bus is sharing the road with.
Private Bus Company Employer Liability. The employer of the bus driver may also be held responsible, both based on their own negligence in hiring or supervising the driver or based on the fact that the driver is working for them at the time when he causes injury. Private bus companies have a duty to ensure their drivers are properly trained and the buses are in good operating condition. Furthermore, busses are considered “common carriers” which means they are held to a higher standard of care.
Bus Manufacturer Liability. If the vehicle id defectively designed, there may be a claim against the bus manufacturer for its failure to follow safety and/or industry standards. Evaluation of this may require expert analysis.
School District Liability. Government agencies have strict rules on how much notice of a claim must be given due to their sovereign immunity. Different municipalities, county and state agencies have different rules regarding how much notice must be given and when. Failure to comply with the rules and strict deadlines may result in the loss of your claim entirely. Fore more reading on this, please see: Can I sue the government for a personal injury?
Other Driver’s Liability. Other motorist’s negligence must also be evaluated when handling a bus accident case.
At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., our accident attorneys will examine the facts of your case and help ensure that all responsible parties for your injuries are held liable. In recent years we have successfully recovered settlements and verdicts against local companies such as First Transit and Houston Metro as well as represented injured victims of the 2012 Academy Texas school bus accident. We have the experience to help you.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses are commercial motor vehicles making them subject to many of the same rules and restrictions as truck drivers. There are countless reasons a bus accident may occur. Obviously, just because a bus is in an accident does not mean the bus driver was automatically at fault. The conduct of all drivers must be investigated in every collision. But these are some of the common causes of commercial motor vehicle accidents:
- Failure to maintain a proper lookout
- Driver distraction such as talking or texting on a cell phone
- Failure to maintain the brakes
- Driving at excessive speed
- Driver fatigue
- Tire blowout
In addition to being subject to many state and federal commercial motor vehicle laws, bus drivers in Texas and many other states are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers. These vehicles are what is known as “common carriers.’ A common carrier is a motor vehicle that carries passengers or property for hire. Because these vehicles drive for a living, they are expected to exercise the utmost care in the operation of the vehicle. Failure to follow this standard may result in an accident.
Assessing liability often requires technical analysis, as well as thorough knowledge of applicable law. Building a case on behalf of an injured party may involve:
- Working with an accident reconstructionist
- Having an expert examine the vehicle and associated equipment
- Reviewing maintenance logs and training practices
- Reviewing video and other evidence
- Gathering information from witnesses
- Valuing intangible or projected damages
Handling a bus accident claim right requires, time, funding, experience and skill. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. has been handling personal injury claims exclusively since the 1970s. Call a name you can trust.
Getting Legal Help From Our Texas Bus Accident Lawyers
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle, such as a truck or 18 wheeler, call 713-932-0777. The consultation is always free no matter how long it takes and if you hire us, you do not pay a dime unless we make a recovery.
If you would like to read more about Bus accident cases and news, please visit our blog’s section on bus accidents.