Charter Bus Accidents
At around 9:00am on April 1, 2014, a horrific accident occurred on Roslyn Road at Heathcote Dr. in Albertson, Long Island. According to an article published in the New York Post, the head-on collision involved a pickup truck and a Coach USA charter bus and sent the bus careening into a tree. The driver of the pickup truck died at the scene. The bus was carrying just one passenger. The passenger and the charter bus driver were trapped on the bus for nearly an hour. Both victims had serious personal injuries Coach USA and other charter bus companies are not inherently unsafe. Thousands and thousands of people ride charter buses each day without incident. On the other hand, charter bus accidents do sometimes occur, often resulting in serious injuries. While a bus accident can be caused by several different reasons, they often occur due to the negligence of the bus driver. If you or a loved one was injured while riding a charter bus you should contact an experienced New York charter bus accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will review the details of the accident and help you pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries.Causes of Charter Bus Accidents
A charter bus is a bus that is hired to transport people to a specific event. For example, a church may charter a bus to travel to its annual convention, or a youth or professional sports team might charter a bus to take team members to a game. Charter buses are typically run by private companies and not public transit agencies. They also typically are equipped with amenities not offered on city buses or school buses such as entertainment systems, bathrooms, reclining seating, wifi, outlets and footrests. Such amenities help ensure that charter bus passengers are comfortable during the long ride. However, despite the comforts that charter buses afford passengers, charter bus rides do not always end happily. Just like any type of car, SUV, van, or truck accident, charter bus accidents occur for a variety of different reasons. While some accidents are caused by a third party such as the driver of another vehicle or due to vehicle maintenance problems, many charter bus accidents occur due to the negligence of the bus driver.
Driver fatigue. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 13-31% of bus accidents nationwide result from driver fatigue. Charter bus drivers and all bus drivers must adhere to strict rules regarding hours that they drive. If a driver exceeds maximum driving hours or if a driver does not get proper rest before starting a shift, then that driver could become fatigued while behind the wheel. As a result the driver could fall asleep at the wheel and drift into another lane. The driver could also be less alert than necessary and unable to quickly or properly react to the actions of other drivers or changes in road conditions. Signs of a fatigued driver include drifting into another lane or to the shoulder, drinking a lot of coffee or energy drinks, frequent yawning, and head bobbing.
Intoxicated driving. Drunk driving and driving while intoxicated by drugs is a major problem and is not limited to drivers of cars. Intoxicated bus drivers have been responsible for many accidents, deaths, and injuries. If a drunk driving on the part of a charter bus driver leads to an accident, not only will the driver face criminal charges, the bus company may face civil liability.
Distracted driving. Distracted diving has become one of the leading causes of bus and other vehicle accidents over the past 20 years with the proliferation of smartphones. While distracting driving has become synonymous with texting or otherwise using a cellphone while driving, it can also refer to the bus driver being distracted in other wise. For example, eating talking excessively to passengers, or focusing on unruly passengers can all distract the driver from keeping his or her eyes on the road, leading to an accident.
Other traffic violations. Failure to follow any traffic rule can lead to a serious accident. For example, charter bus accidents have been caused by speeding drivers, driving aggressively, running through red lights, or due to other violations of traffic regulations. If after an accident the police issue the driver of the charter bus a ticket or arrest the driver, then that is a strong indication that the driver's negligence caused the accident or contributed to the bus accident.
Poor maintenance. If a bus is not properly maintained, it could malfunction limiting the driver's ability to properly maneuver it. Bus drivers and bus companies have a duty to inspect their vehicles to identify problems and repair any problem. Failure to do so can result in serious accidents. For example, ignoring maintenance schedules may lead to tires becoming worn and blowout. Failure to check brakes can lead to brake failure.Charter Bus Accident Injuries
Victims of charter bus accidents often suffer devastating injuries. When a charter bus collides with another vehicle or a fixed object such as a pole or barrier, passengers are likely to suffer serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. These types of serious injuries are painful and can take a long time to heal. Some such injuries result in permanent damage.
- Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury is common for bus accident victims. Bus passengers are rarely restrained, as most busses do not have seatbelts. A brain injury can be caused when a passenger is through from his or seat, hitting his head on the side of the bus, a pole, or the floor. Or, the victim maybe thrown from the bus. Brain injuries may also be caused by the whiplash action when the neck and head move swiftly forward and then whip back. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to serious problems such as paralysis, hearing loss, blindness, migraines, and dementia.
- Spinal cord injuries. When passengers are tossed about during an accident, back injuries are common. Some spinal injuries resulting in lifelong pain, while others lead to permanent paralysis.
- Broken bones. Because of the size and weight of buses, and because of the force exerted on the bus and its occupants during a high-speed accident, it is not unusual for victims to suffer broken bones such legs, arms ankles, jaws, ribs, and skulls.
If you are injured in a charter bus accident due to the negligence of another person, then you may be able to hold that person legally and financially responsible through a personal injury lawsuit. If the driver of the bus was negligent because he was speeding, failed to stop at a red light, was distracted by his cell phone, or was intoxicated, for example, then the driver, the driver's employer, and the company who owns or operates the charter bus company would be responsible. If the accident was caused by a third party such as the driver of another vehicle, then that driver would be responsible. As experienced New York charter bus accident lawyers, it is our job to determine fault. Our investigation will involve examining the scene, interviewing witnesses, checking police reports, and examining maintenance records for evidence of mechanical problems or poor maintenance history.
As for the 2014 Coach USA charter bus accident, The New York Post reported that witnesses stated that the driver of the pickup truck may have been speeding. However, we do not represent the pickup truck driver or anyone else involved in this accident and have no opinion as to what caused this accident.
Pinpointing responsibility for a bus accident is not always easy. Even if you believe you know why the accident happened, you should not hesitate in seeking an experienced New York charter bus accident lawyer. Assembling the information necessary to file a lawsuit can take time. New York statute of limitations laws impose strict deadlines on when personal injury lawsuits must be filed. If you miss a deadline, you will be forever barred from filing a lawsuit to recover damages.Types of Damages Resulting from a Charter Bus Accident
If you are injured as a result of a charter bus accident, you may be entitled to several different types of compensation.
- Medical expenses. As an experienced charter bus accident attorney in New York will explain, the negligent party may be required to compensate you for your medical bills. The medical expenses portion of damages should include every medical expense that you incurred over the course of receiving treatment as well as future medical expenses. Examples of compensable medical expenses include ambulance transportation to the emergency room or hospital, hospital stay, surgery, outpatient visits and treatment by medical specialists and doctors, physical therapy visits, and medical equipment need such as wheelchairs, walkers and other required assistive medical devices.
- Lost income. With a serious injury from a bus accident you could end up missing work for days, weeks, or even months while you recover. Through a personal injury lawsuit you can demand compensation for wages and other types of compensation that you already lost as well as for future compensation that you will miss out on. This may include loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering. The court may also award damages based on the physical and mental anguish you experienced from your injuries and recovery. Pain and suffering awards are typically substantial where the victim suffers a permanent injury such as an amputation, paralysis, scarring, hearing loss, blindness, permanent limp, or cognitive deficits.
- Property loss. In addition to recovering losses related to your physical injuries, you may also be able to receive damages for property that was damages. For example, in the Ontario hockey team charter bus accident, the owner of the tractor trailer that the bus slammed into could sue the charter bus company for the damages to the tractor trailer.
- Wrongful death lawsuit. If a relative was killed in a charter 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 loss of consortium. Generally, only a spouse, child or parent would be able to seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, in the case resulting from the 2005 Ontario youth hockey team charter bus crash Richard Edwards and his son Brian Edwards were two of the passengers who died. In Edwards v. Eerie Lines Coach, 952 N.E.2d 1033 (2011), Sheila Edwards, wife of Richard and mother of Brian sued the charter bus company for the wrongful deaths of Richard and Brian. Ultimately the charter bus company settled the Edwards' lawsuit along with lawsuits filed by other victims and their families for $36 million.
Those who are injured in such accidents have the legal right to pursue compensation from the negligent parties. A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a charter bus accident can be complicated, involving complex evidentiary issues related to fault. If you or a loved one was injured in a charter bus accident, contact a charter bus accident attorney serving New York who has experience handling traumatic vehicle accident cases and who is also familiar with the medical issues victims of such accidents experience. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience winning substantial settlements and jury awards for injured accident victims. Keep in mind that it is important to seek representation right away in order to make sure your lawsuit is filed timely. 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: Nassau County, Brooklyn, Long Island, Suffolk County, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Bronx, and Westchester County.