Double Decker Bus Accidents
On August 5, 2014 a double-decker bus operated by Gray Line slammed into a double-decker bus operated by City Sights near the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square, injuring 14 people. According to an article published on NYTimes.com immediately after the accident, the driver of the Gray Line double-decker bus, William Dalambert, was impaired by an unknown substance. However, a later report by ABC News indicated that Dalambert was not impaired and that the bus accident may have been caused by a mechanical failure. The double-decker site-seeing bus is a popular tourist attraction in New York. A double-decker bus is a bus that has two levels. Often the top level is not enclosed with walls or a top but is open air. When a double-decker bus is involved in an accident, especially an open-air double-decker bus, there is a very good chance that passengers will suffer serious personal injuries as there is little protection for passengers. Not only are there often only partial walls on double-decker buses, double-decker buses typically do not have safety features common to sedans, SUVs and vans such as seat belts and airbags. Nonetheless, those who are injured in a double-decker bus due to the negligence of the bus driver can hold the bus driver and the driver's employer legally responsible. Thus, if you or a loved one was injured in a double-decker bus accident, it is critical that you immediately contact an experienced New York double-decker bus accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will review the facts of your case and work hard to ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.Types of Accidents Involving Double-Decker Buses
There are a number of factors related to the design of double-decker buses and how they are typically used that make them prone to particular types of accidents.
- Tipping over accidents. Because double-decker buses are tall, box-shaped and have a high center of gravity, when they are involved in certain types of accidents they are more likely to tip over than other types of buses. This means that an accident that might result in no injuries or minor injuries if a traditional bus or sedan was involved might result in serious injuries if a double-decker bus was involved due to it tipping over.
- Pedestrian accidents. Double-decker buses must navigate some of the busiest streets in New York during the busiest times. As a result pedestrians are sometimes struck by double-decker buses.
- Overpass accidents. Because of the height of double-decker buses, drivers must be aware of clearance levels when they travel under underpasses. According to Syracuse Media Group, in 2010 the driver of a double-decker Megabus failed to take note of the clearance level of a train overpass in Salina, New York. The bus crashed into the overpass, killing 4 people.
- Boarding accidents. Because of the height of bus steps, passengers sometimes fall when getting on and getting off of double-decker buses. In addition, if a driver closes the bus doors too quickly or drives away when a passenger is not fully on or off the bus, the passenger may fall backwards.
- Driver fatigue. Drivers who work long shifts, or who do not get adequate rest prior to driving are less able to concentrate on driving or avoid hazards. Drivers of buses and other commercial vehicles must follow strict rules related to hours of service. As a New York double decker bus accident lawyer will explain, failure to do so may result in an accident and liability on part of the driver and the bus company.
- Distracted driver. Drivers can be distracted by a number of things, including using handheld electronic devices while driving in violation of New York's distracted driving law, by eating, by reading, by writing, or by unruly passengers.
- Failure to obey traffic rules. A common cause of bus accidents includes simply failing to follow the "Rules of the Road." Speeding, running stop signs, running red lights, and other violations inevitably lead to accidents.
- Driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, there have been many bus accidents that occurred because the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Do so is not only dangerous, but it is criminal.
As an experienced New York double decker bus accident lawyer will explain, if you are injured in a double-decker 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 stop sign, 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 double-decker bus company would be responsible. If the accident was caused by a third party such as the driver of another vehicle, an unruly passenger, or a pedestrian, then that person would be responsible. Those investigating the accident should be able to pinpoint fault by examining the scene, interviewing witnesses, and examining the bus for evidence of mechanical problems.Determining if you Have a Case
If you were injured in a double-decker bus accident, you may have a case against the negligent party. One of the main requirements of having standing to sue for damages is that your injury must be serious. In other words, you will not win a case and collect damages if you suffer minor scrapes or bruises. Examples of injuries that are serious enough to warrant damages include traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, and broken bones. If you have suffered a serious injury in a bus accident, contact an experienced double decker bus accident attorney in New York to assess your case.
- Traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious injury that results from a forceful blow or jolt to the head or when an object pierces the skull and destroys brain cells. That is exactly what happened to 75-year-old Veena Sadhwani when she was hit by a city bus. In Sadhwani v. New York City Transit Authority, 890 N.Y.S.2d 458 (2009), the plaintiff sued the New York Transit Authority after she was struck and suffered a skull fracture and a severe brain injury. As a result Sadhwani suffered from diminished cognitive abilities, memory loss, dementia and Parkinson's Disease. Similarly, Joao Brito was struck by a city bus in Manhattan that resulted in a brain injury so severe that she was not able to testify in court about the accident. Brito v. Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, 590 N.Y.S.2d 450 (1992).
- Spine injuries. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. In fact, over 35% of spine injuries each year are caused by 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. In the case of Mompremier v. New York Transit Authority, 990 N.Y.S.2d 438 (2014), on February 7, 2008, the plaintiff Myrlande Mompremier was a passenger in an Access-A-Ride bus when it rear-ended another vehicle. The plaintiff suffered several injuries to her spine including a cervical disc herniation, cervical disc bulge and a disc herniation.
- Fractures. Fractures, meaning broken bones, are also common bus accident injuries. The most common causes of broken bones are vehicle accidents and falls. Victims often suffer broken bones in both bus accidents that involve collisions but also in bus accidents that involve falls, such as when a passenger falls while getting on or off the bus. Bones that are often fractured include the arm, collarbone, ankle, foot, hand, finger, leg, and nose.
Of course, if your loved one was killed in a double-decker bus accident, then the decedent's family members would have standing to file a wrongful deathful law and seek damages.
In addition, in order to have a case against a driver of the double-decker bus, the driver must have been negligent. This means that even if the actions of the bus driver caused your injury, if the driver has an excuse for his actions, then the court may not hold the driver responsible. For example, in Tallant v. Grey Line Tours New York, Inc., 889 N.Y.S.2d 562 (2009), the driver of the double-decker bus slammed on his brakes because a cab cut in front of him. Even though plaintiff Tallant suffered injuries because the driver slammed on the brakes, the court applied the "emergency doctrine," concluding that the bus driver's actions were in response to an emergency that the driver did not create. Tallant's case was dismissed.
In the case of the August 2014 bus accident involving driver William Dalambert there are several factors that law enforcement and the court likely reviewed to determine if Dalambert and Gray Lines were at fault. This information will be used to determine if Dalambert and Gray Lines will ultimately be required to pay damages to any of the 14 injured victims.
- The results of Dalambert's field sobriety test
- Whether or not Dalambert was issued a ticket for a traffic violation
- Whether Dalambert was arrested for suspicion of committing a crime related to the bus accident
- Whether Dalambert was tried and convicted for a crime related to the bus accident
- Whether there was evidence of a mechanical failure
- A review of the bus's maintenance records
- Whether anyone else such as the driver of the City Sights bus was issued a traffic violation
- Observations of eyewitnesses
If you are injured as a result of a double-decker 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. 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 emergency room treatment, hospital stays, visits to your doctor, rehabilitation, nursing home expenses, medical equipment and prescriptions.
- Lost wages. If you miss work while you recover from your injuries, your lawsuit should seek damages for the income you lost, including sick or vacation days you had to use while recovering. 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. If you had to undergo surgery or have permanent scars from your injury, you are likely to receive a greater award for pain and suffering then if your injury was relatively less severe.
- 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, if the double-decker bus smashes into your car, causing substantial damages, you can sue to recover the cost of repairing or replacing your car.
Double-decker buses such as are not inherently dangerous, and there driver are not generally incompetent or negligent. However, on occasion double-decker buses are involved in accidents. Claims based on injuries in a double-decker bus accident can be complicated, relying on sometimes conflicting evidence. Thus, is important that you are represented by a seasoned double decker bus attorney serving New York who understands both the substantive and procedural laws related to bus injury cases. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff has experience successfully representing vehicle accident victims and their families. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island, Suffolk County, Manhattan, Nassau County, Bronx, and Westchester County.