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Bee Line Bus Accidents

On July 24, 2014 witnesses were shocked to see a Bee-Line bus slam into a motorcyclist on North Riverside Avenue in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. After the collision the motorcycle was shattered into pieces, and the motorcyclist, 34-year-old Charles Golding of Manhattan, was pronounced dead at the scene. No bus passengers were reported to have suffered serious injuries in the crash. [O'Rourke, J. (2014 July 25). Motorcyclist killed in collision with Bee-Line bus in Croton. The Journal News, Retrieved from Lohud.com] The Bee-Line is a bus system that operates public buses serving primarily Westchester County. While public bus systems such as the Bee-Line efficiently and safely transport thousands of commuters each day without incident, on occasion accidents such as the Croton-on-Hudson accident do occur. In some cases when there is a city bus accident, the result is serious injuries to bus passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and occupants of over vehicles. Regardless of how and why bus accidents occur, victims and their families have the right to seek damages from the person or company whose negligence caused the accident. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a Bee-Line bus, it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Bee-Line Bus Accident Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and explain to you the process for pursuing compensation from Westchester County or any other person whose negligence contributed to the accident that resulted in your injuries.

What are the Causes of Bee-Line Bus Accidents?

Just like any type of vehicle accident, there are many possible causes. In some instances the Bee-Line bus driver is at fault, while in other cases the driver of another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist is at fault. In still other cases, a Bee-Line bus passenger may contribute to the accident. If you are in an accident involving a Bee-Line bus, and the bus driver caused the accident, possible reasons for the accident include:

  • Fatigued driver. If a driver does not get proper rest before his shift, then he can easily become tired while driving. Fatigued drivers may fall asleep at the wheel. In other cases such drivers are less alert and as a result are unable to quickly react to other vehicles and road conditions.
  • Distracted driver. Under New York's distracted driver law, it is illegal to use a hand-held cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving. Looking down at a cell phone or tablet to check messages, text or browse the internet is distracting, and can easily cause a bus driver to lose focus and end up in an accident.
  • Failure to obey traffic rules. A frequent cause of not just bus accidents, but vehicle accidents in general is speeding, running through red lights, improper lane changing and violating other traffic rules.
  • Driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, just like drivers of other types of vehicles, there are some cases where bus drivers choose to get behind the wheel while they are intoxicated, leading to accidents.
  • Poor weather conditions. If the roads are wet or icy due to rain or snow, driving can be dangerous. Bus drivers must take extra care. If a driver does not drive in a manner that is safe based on the weather and road conditions, and as a result gets into an accident, the driver would have been negligent.

In some cases city bus accidents are caused by some sort of mechanical malfunction. If a bus is not properly maintained and as a result does not operate properly, the driver may have a difficult maintaining control over the bus. The Bee-Line is required to regularly inspect and properly maintain its fleet of buses. For example, the tires of the bus should be inspected. If the tires are not properly maintained and as a result there is a blowout, causing the bus to collide with another vehicle, Bee-Line as well as the company responsible for bus maintenance may be liable.

There are also cases where a bus accident occurs because of another person's negligence. According to the report in The Journal News, at least one witness to the Croton-on-Hudson Bee-Line bus accident observed the motorcyclist speeding immediately prior to the collision with the Bee-Line bus.

In still other instances bus accidents do not involve collisions with other vehicles, but involve passengers getting injured when they get on or off the bus, or while standing on the bus. Such accidents typically involve the passenger falling. For example, the step from the bus to the street is fairly steep, making it easy for passengers to stumble when trying to get on or get off the bus. When a bus is in motion, passengers who are standing often get jostled about. If the driver makes a sharp turn or sudden stop, passengers sometimes lose their balance and end up falling.

What Types of Injuries are Common to Bus Accidents?

The types of injuries that city bus accident victims suffer varies widely depending on the type of accident. Bee-Line buses are huge, weighing significant more than cars, SUVs and vans. In addition, Bee-Line buses are not all equipped with the same types of safety features that cares are required to have such as seat belts and air bags. Thus, when a Bee-Line bus or any other type of city bus is involved in a collision, it is not surprising that serious injuries or death sometimes occur.

  • Traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious injury that results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or when an object pierces the skull and destroys brain cells. While it is unclear as to the exact cause of death of Charles Golding, the motorcyclist killed in the Croton-on-Hudson Bee-Line bus accident, given the circumstance of the accident it is possible that he suffered a TBI. Motorcyclists often suffer severe head injuries when they are involved in collisions with other vehicles. Since motorcycles provide little protection to the body, motorcyclists are frequently thrown from the bike into the hard pavement or into another vehicle, resulting in a TBI. Head trauma that is severe can lead to death.
  • Spine injuries. Over 35% of spine injuries each year are caused by car, bus, motorcycle and other vehicle accidents. Injuries to the spine can affect the movement and control of the torso, legs, bowel, bladder control, and arms. It can also diminish sexual function and the ability to breathe. An injury to the spine can leave the victim with a lifetime of pain or even paralysis.
  • Fractures. A fracture is another term for broken bone. The most common causes of broken bones are vehicle accidents and falls. If a passenger on a bus falls while riding a bus, or while getting off the bus, common injuries include broken wrists, hands, fingers, and arms. Bus accidents that involve collisions with other vehicles can also leave victims with several broken bones.
  • Death. Sadly, as in the Croton-on-Hudson Bee-Line bus crash, in some cases victims of bus accidents do not survive. This is particularly likely in cases where city bus hits a pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist.
Who was at Fault?

A determination of fault must be made in order to determine who is legally and financially responsible for the accident. However, the determination of fault in a bus accident can be complicated. While victims and witnesses can report what they observed immediately prior to an accident, the cause of an accident is sometimes not completely clear until the accident scene professionals have had a chance to review the evidence. For example, despite statements made by witnesses who observed the Croton-on-Hudson accident, there are several possible reasons for the accident. The motorcyclist could be completely at fault. The bus driver may have been at fault. Or it is possible that fault lies with both the motorcyclist and the bus driver. If after a full investigation by accident scene investigators it is determined that the motorcyclist in the Croton-on-Hudson Bee-Line bus accident was indeed at fault for the collision, then his estate will be legally liable and not the Bee-Line. However, we do not represent the motorcyclist, the Bee-Line, or anyone else associated with this accident. We have no opinion concerning who was at fault.

In determining fault in any bus accident, investigators will review all evidence at the scene and will interview witnesses. If after an accident the bus driver received a ticket from the police indicating that the driver violated a traffic law, then that might be strong evidence of fault. On the other hand, if, for example, the bus driver made a sharp turn to avoid a pedestrian or another vehicle, causing passengers on the bus to fall, the bus driver may absolved of fault under the "emergency" doctrine.

It is important that you do not hold off contacting a New York Bee-Line Bus Accident Lawyer because you are unsure of who was at fault. There are time limits for filing claims. If you miss the deadline you will not be able to recover damages.

How do I go About Holding Someone Legally Responsible for the Accident?

If you are injured in a Bee-Line bus accident due to the negligence of another person, you may be entitled to receive compensation. If the driver of the bus was negligent then you would seek compensation from Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation which is the government entity that operates that bus. There are, however, special procedures that your must follow to bring a claim against a government entity such as Westchester County. You must first file a "Notice of Claim." N.Y. GMU. LAW § 50-e. The Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident with the appropriate government office, and must include the following information:

  • The name of the claimant
  • A description of what happened, including the date, time, and location of the accident
  • The nature of your injuries
  • Amount of damages sought

Furthermore, it is important that you file the claim with the proper government entity. If you fail to file the Notice of Claim on time at the proper place, then you will forever lose your legal right to pursue compensation from Westchester County. If you timely file a Notice of Claim, you have 1 year and 90 days after the incident to file a lawsuit for personal injury. For a wrongful death lawsuit, you have 2 years from the date of death.

If you are injured in a public bus accident and the driver was not at fault, then you would pursue damages from the negligent party, such as the driver of another vehicle. In such a case you would not have to follow the special procedures required when suing a government entity. However, you would still have to make sure you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations for personal injury claims expires.

What Types of Compensation are Possible From a City Bus Accident Lawsuit?

If you are injured as a result of a bus accident, you may be entitled to several different types of compensation.

  • Medical expenses. The negligent party may be required to compensate you for your medical bills. This includes not only the medical bills that you accumulated prior to filing the lawsuit, but medical bills you accumulated since the lawsuit was filed as well as future medical bills. Medical expenses include expenses related to emergency room treatment, hospital stays, visits to your doctor, rehabilitation, durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair, and prescriptions.
  • Lost wages. If you miss work while you recover from your injuries, the negligent party may be ordered to compensate you for the income you lost, including sick or vacation days you had to use while recovering. If you missed the opportunity to earn a bonus or a promotion, then you can sue to recover the value of those missed opportunities. In addition, if you sustain permanent injuries such that your future earning potential has been diminished, then that may also be a compensable loss.
  • Pain and suffering. The court may also award damages based on the physical and mental anguish you experienced from your injuries and recovery. Examples of factors that may contribute to the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering include whether you had to undergo surgery, have permanent scars, or have a permanent limp. In addition, if you were aware that you were about to be involved in a serious accident, pain and suffering can include an amount for "pre-impact terror." In other words, if you "saw the accident coming," that is a factor in determining a pain and suffering award.
  • Wrongful death. If your family member was killed in a bus accident you may be entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses, the decedent's pain and suffering and lost wages. In addition, compensation may be awarded for lost of consortium. Generally, only a spouse, child or parent would be able to seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

It is important to note that you will only be awarded damages if your injuries are substantial. A few bumps and bruises will not be enough to sustain a personal injury claim.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Bee-Line buses are not inherently dangerous. Nor are drivers of Bee-Line buses generally incompetent or negligent. However, just like any other buss company, Bee-Line buses are on occasion involved in accidents, resulting in injuries. Claims based on injuries in a Bee-Line bus accident can be complicated. Not only may there be complex issues regarding pinpointing fault, there may also be special procedural requirements. Contact an experienced Bee Line bus accident attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. We are here to help. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Suffolk County, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

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