Motor Coach Bus Accidents
On July 23, 2014, 50-year-old Robert T. Stankowitz was injured when he fell under a motor coach bus operated by Coach USA. The accident occurred near the intersection of Howard Street and Central Avenue in Chautauqua County. Stankowitz was reportedly running after the bus in an attempt to get it to stop so that he could board it. It is unclear as to what occurred that caused Stankowitz to fall and end up under the bus. Fortunately, there were witnesses who saw what happened. They were able to alert the bus driver so that he stopped. The Buffalo News reported that Stankowitz suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, just like other types of vehicles motor coach buses are involved in accidents resulting in serious injuries. In some cases such bus accidents are caused by the bus driver, while in other cases another person is at fault. Regardless of the cause of the accident, victims have the right to seek compensation for the losses they suffer in accidents. If you or a family member was injured in an accident involving a motor coach bus, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York motor coach bus accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the knowledge and resources to ensure that your legal rights are protected.Causes of Motor Coach Bus Accidents
Motor coach buses are buses with upgraded interiors that are typically used for long distance excursions. Bus companies such as Greyhound Lines, Inc., Trailways Transportation System, Inc., Megabus, and Peter Pan Bus Lines use motor coaches as part of their fleets. Motor coach buses are also frequently used as charter buses by schools, churches, sports teams, and private corporations. An accident involving a motor coach bus can be caused by a variety of circumstances. In some cases the bus driver is at fault, while in other cases the driver of another vehicle or a third party is at fault. The most common reasons for bus accidents include:
Driver fatigue. Drivers who do not get the proper amount of rest can be too fatigued to operate the bus safely. Fatigued drivers have a difficult time focusing on the road. Their reaction times increase such that they may not be able to brake, swerve, or take other appropriate action to avoid an accident. Motor coach bus drivers often drive long distances. The law requires mandatory rest time for drivers. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow these requirements. Some drivers even falsify their driving logs and some companies do not enforce the rest rules.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving can be described as a driver focusing on anything that causes that driver to take his eyes off the road or to mentally turn his attention away from driving. This can be eating, reading, writing, or chatting with passengers. However, New York's distracted driver law focuses on the use of electronic devices. The law prohibits drivers from using a cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving. N.Y. VAT. LAW §§ 1225-c and 1225-d. Prohibited activities on a portable electronic device include:
- Using a mobile telephone or engage in a call while the vehicle is in motion
- Viewing, taking or transmitting images
- Playing games
- Composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data
Bus drivers have been observed not only using cell phones while driving, but also eating, and reading. One bus driver was videotaped by a passenger doing paperwork while driving. Any of these actions can cause a driver to take his eyes off of the road and end up in a collision.
Poor maintenance. Just like individuals need to regularly take their vehicles for service in order for them to run properly, buses must be maintained. In fact, as an experienced New York motor coach bus accident lawyer will explain, the law requires that owners and operators of motor coach bus companies properly maintain their vehicles. This means that companies must regularly inspect and service their fleets. They also are required to maintain records. Mechanical malfunctions are more likely to occur while a bus is in operation if a bus company does not properly maintain it. If a bus is traveling at 60 mph and a worn or underinflated tire blows, the driver may lose control of the bus, resulting in collision. Similarly, if brakes are not regularly inspected they could fail at a particularly dangerous moment resulting in the bus rear ending another vehicle, or going to fast around a curve.
Intoxicated driving. Just like any other driver, motor coach bus drivers must adhere to New York laws regarding intoxicated driving. In addition, bus companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers are alcohol and drug free. Bus companies must adhere to federal regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration related to intoxicated driving, including randomly testing drivers for alcohol.
Traffic violations. Failure to follow almost any traffic rule can lead to a serious accident. For example, many accidents have been caused by speeding drivers, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to yield the right of way, and running through a red light. If the police issue the bus driver a ticket, that would be compelling evidence that the driver's negligence caused or at a minimum contributed to the bus accident.
Other types of accidents. Some bus accidents do not involve collisions. For example, some accidents happen with a passenger is attempting to get on or off the bus. For example, in one incident, a bus driver made it difficult for a passenger to get off the bus but failing to activate the kneeler feature and by partially blocking her, forcing her to get off the bus at an awkward angle. As a result the passenger fell and suffered injuries. In other incident, the motor coach stopped suddenly, throwing the passenger into the dashboard. The passenger suffered serious injuries.Common Injuries in Motor Coach Bus Accidents
Due to the massive size and weight of motor coach buses and because many are not equipped with safety features such as seatbelts and airbags, it is not surprising that accident victims often suffer severe, life-altering injuries and sometimes death.
- Traumatic brain injuries. When a bus is traveling at high speeds as is often the case with motor coaches, and the bus is involved in an accident, the passengers are often tossed about the interior of the bus. Passengers can hit their heads on the dashboard, against the windows, against the side of the bus, or on the floor of the bus. A severe blow to the head can result in damage to the brain. The victim may end up with short or long-term symptoms such as migraines, nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, dementia, blurred vision, loss of vision, loss of hearing, and paralysis.
- Spine injuries. Damage to the spine in a bus accident can lead to a variety of severe long or short-term medical issues, including back pain, poor mobility, paralysis, loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control, and inability to breathe.
- Broken bones. The impact of a bus accident can leave victims with broken bones. Broken bone often take a long time to heal and can impact the ability of the victim to perform activities of daily living. Severe broken bones may require surgery followed by physical therapy.
- Death. Sadly, many motor coach bus accidents result in injuries so severe that the victim passes away.
If you were injured in a bus accident, before you can recover damages there must be a determination of fault. An experienced New York motor coach bus accident lawyer will understand what evidence to look for and how to evaluate it. Commonly, fault can be determined by reviewing the following:
- Witness statements
- Traffic citations
- Physical evidence
If another person’s negligent actions lead to your injury, the negligent party is responsible. With the help of an experienced motor coach bus accident attorney in New York you can file a lawsuit against the bus company or other responsible party and demand compensation.
Compensation to which you may be entitled to includes your past and future medical expenses related to the injury, lost compensation and loss of future earning ability, and pain and suffering. In order to have the best chance of being awarded maximum compensation, there are a few things you must keep in mind.
You must have proof. You must be able to prove your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To prove past medical bills, make sure you keep all of the bills you received from your doctors, therapists, and pharmacies. Keep receipts medical-related bills related to the accident that you paid, as well as all correspondence from your health insurance provider. You will need expert testimony to prove future medical expenses. To prove lost wages, you will need to show paystubs. Testimony and records from your company’s human resources department will support your demand. If you are self-employed, records showing your past revenue, purchase orders, as well as your own payroll records will show how your revenue decreased since the accident.
Pain and suffering is based on the physical and emotional suffering you experienced as a result of the accident. There is no exact science to the calculation. However, your medical records and medical bills are a starting point. It is particularly important to show records of any therapy that you received to help cope with the psychological impact of the accident. Medical records showing prescriptions for pain medication will support a claim of severe and ongoing pain. Pain and suffering is more likely to be awarded where the victim experienced permanent injuries such as scars, limp, amputation, or paralysis. For more information on pain and suffering damages, contact an experienced motor coach bus accident attorney in New York.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Motor coach buses such as those operated by Coach USA, Greyhound Lines, Inc., Trailways Transportation System, Inc., Megabus, and Peter Pan Bus Lines are not inherently dangerous. Nor are their drivers generally incompetent or negligent. However, motor coach buses are on occasion involved in accidents. In the days and weeks immediately following a bus accident that left you seriously injured your focus will likely be on getting better. However, it is also important to turn your attention to making sure that the person or company determined to be responsible for the accident is held accountable. Contact an experienced motor coach bus accident attorney serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff has experience successfully representing bus accident victims and their families, as well as those who were injured in other types of vehicle accidents. 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.