New York Bus Accident Lawyer
Do you know who is responsible for paying your medical bills or the time limit in which you need to file on order to recover compensation after a bus accident? A bus accident liability lawyer is the person you should turn to when you have critical questions about your case and need to protect your future. Looking ahead into the years in which you will have to pay extensive medical costs can be too much to handle for someone who has recently suffered.
You may think that it is obvious that the driver or the company employing the driver is responsible for your injuries and those payments, but their attempts to deny liability and ignore you altogether, can be an additional emotional element of your personal injury claim. You should share your concerns directly with an attorney who has practiced in this field for years, especially a bus accident liability attorney in New York. Buses have a high tendency to be involved in preventable accidents or even to roll over because of their height.
If the injuries you were left with have made it hard to live your life, you need a lawyer.
This means that passengers on buses don’t have the traditional safety mechanisms provided to passenger vehicle accident victims. After a traditional motor vehicle accident, liability is identified by looking at the level of fault of the parties involved. This can be extremely complicated with bus accidents, particularly as it relates to liability.
However, this determination of liability is also the crux of your personal injury case and should therefore, only be handled by an experienced attorney. You may also be able to file a third-party claim, if the bus was hit by another vehicle or driver on the road. This means you could initiate a third-party claim with their insurance provider after you have maxed out your insurance benefits. If the bus driver is at fault, however, you need a lawyer to investigate all of the possible causes of the accident and use this to build a case involving liability.
Things can get especially confusing in a bus accident case when the bus driver is to blame. Many buses are operated and owned by government entities, including public transportation and school buses. Of all bus accident cases, school buses have the highest rate of fatalities, which makes it all the more important for a parent to get help from an experienced lawyer immediately. Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that school buses alone account for up to 37% of all bus fatalities on an annual basis.
If you are injured in a bus collision and the bus is managed by a public entity, you'll need to file a claim with the bus's insurance provider, usually connected with the government. This means that you have limited period of time in which to take action and therefore, you cannot afford to wait to schedule a consultation. If your claim is denied, you'll need to file the notice of claim in a fairly short period of time. According to the General Municipal Law in New York, usually you have a maximum of 90 days from the date of the claim to file this. The notice of claim must explain that the claim is being served against a specific employee, officer, agent or a public body. All the information about how the accident occurred must also be included. Because of the complexities involved surrounding a case involving liability with a government entity, it is in your best interests to have a lawyer who has practiced in this field and who can give you insight about what to anticipate and some of the common pitfalls associated with these types of cases. The selection of the proper attorney can have a big impact on your outcome.New York Bus Accident Lawyer
In the early morning hours of September 11, 2010, a terrible bus accident occurred in Salina, New York, resulting in the deaths of 4 passengers. The accident occurred when the driver of a Megabus double-decker bus attempted to drive the bus under a railroad overpass. The top of the bus crashed into the overpass. Buses are a common mode of transportation in New York. The New York City public bus system alone boasts over 125,000,000 riders each year. On top of that millions of people ride school buses and tour buses throughout the State of New York. Buses operated by motor coach bus companies such as Greyhound, Trailways, Peter Pan and Megabus are still commonly used for long-distance travel within New York and throughout the country. Furthermore, schools, sports teams, religious organizations and private individuals regularly hire charter buses, party buses and limousine buses for special occasions. Unfortunately, like any other mode of travel bus travel does not always go smoothly. Accidents occur. In fact, in one recent 6 month period there were over 3400 MTA bus accidents. Because of the massive size and weight of buses and because most buses are not equipped with safety features such as airbags and seatbelts, when bus accidents do happen victims often suffer severe injuries. If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury in a city bus accident, tour bus accident, of any other type of bus accident contact an experienced New York bus accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience representing victims of vehicle accidents, we have the resources to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation to which you are entitled based on the facts of your case.Types of buses involved in accidents
There are several different types of buses traveling New York streets and highways including, casino, charter, city, double-decker, limousine, motorcoach, school, and tour buses. Buses such as charter buses, double-decker buses, tour buses, motor coaches, limousine buses, and party buses are generally owned and operated by private companies, while city buses are owned and operated by city or state government agencies such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit Authority, or the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority. New York school buses are operated under contract with New York cities and towns.
As a experienced New York bus accident lawyer will explain, if you are injured in a bus accident due to the negligence of the driver of that bus, it is important to understand who owns or operates the bus. There are different procedures and limitations periods depending on whether your claim is against a private company or individual, or if your claim is against a government entity.Causes of bus accidents
There are a variety of types of bus accidents. Most accidents involve the bus colliding with another vehicle such as a car or an SUV. Other accidents involve the bus colliding with a bicyclist or a pedestrian. Still other accidents do not involve collisions at all, but involve a passenger getting injured in some other way while riding, getting on, or getting off the bus. Just like other types of vehicle accidents, there are many different reasons that bus accidents occur.
- Fatigued driver. 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. They sometimes fall asleep at the wheel. On May 31, 2011, a Sky Express Bus Company bus traveling on I-95 headed from North Carolina to New York, swerved from side to side before careening off the road and landing on a ditch. Four people died and dozens were injured. According to witnesses as reported by NBC4 Washington, the bus driver, Kin Yiu Cheung, was drinking coffee and Red Bull. When the bus started to swerve, passengers noted that Cheung was slumped over, asleep at the wheel. Cheung, who acknowledged falling asleep, has since been convicted of 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of the 4 passengers.
- Distracted driver. Bus drivers can be distracted by a number of things, including using hand-held electronic devices while driving, unruly passengers, mechanical issues, or personal issues. From January to July 2013 the number of MTA bus accidents increased 10%. According to reports published by NBCNewYork.com, MTA investigators found that dozens of drivers use cell phones while driving.
- Failure to obey traffic rules. Bus drivers sometimes speed, run red lights and stop signs, and violate other traffic laws, leading to accidents. The same MTA investigation that found that found a high cell phone usage, found numerous other traffic violations including running red lights.
- Driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, there are bus drivers who make the decision to drive even though they are intoxicated by alcohol or high on drugs. It goes without saying that driving while under the influence is a recipe for an accident. In addition, under regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration bus drivers must submit to random alcohol testing. Drivers are also subject to screening for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP). Unfortunately, there are some bus companies that fail to consistently adhere to federal laws related to the use of drugs and alcohol on the job.
- Poor maintenance. A bus that is not running properly may make it difficult for the driver to operate it properly. In addition, a problem with the bus may also distract the driver's attention away from focusing on the road. According to ABC News a contributing factor to a 2014 Gray Line double-decker bus accident that occurred in Times Square may been that the bus malfunctioned. A mechanical failure may have caused the bus to lurch forward. In an effort to avoid hitting several pedestrians the driver veered into a lamp post.
- Poor weather conditions. Rain, ice and snow can also contribute to bus accidents.
- Boarding passengers. People are sometimes injured as they try to get on or off a bus. This can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes the driver closes the door too quickly, engages the bus lift, or begins to drive while the doors are still open causing the passenger to fall backwards. Injuries also occur when a passenger's hand or arm gets caught when the doors close. For example, in Mary Kearns v. Adirondack Trailways, 872 N.Y.S.2d 244 (2009), plaintiff Mary Kearns was injured while alighting from a Trailways bus. According to Kearns, not only did the Trailways bus driver fail to activate the kneeler feature, the driver actually partially blocked Kearns so that she had to attempt to get off of the bus at an awkward angle. As a result Kearns fell and suffered injuries.
While undoubtedly many bus accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver, some accidents are caused by the negligence of a third party such as another driver or a pedestrian, by the behavior of another passenger, or by the negligence of the injured party. It is critically important to discuss your bus accident case with an experienced New York bus accident lawyer who will review the circumstances that lead to the accident and pursue damages against the appropriate parties.Common types of bus accident injuries
Victims of bus accidents often suffer devastating injuries or are killed. When a bus collides with another vehicle or a fixed object such as a pole or a guardrail 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 the victim being permanently disabled.
- Traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) vary depending on the severity of the injury. If the trauma was mild, signs of a TBI may include a brief loss of consciousness, confusion, headache, loss of balance, memory loss, nausea, and sensitivity to sound. If the trauma was severe, the victim may experience slurred speech, seizures, loss of consciousness for a number of hours, weakness in the fingers and toes, loss of coordination, headache, nausea, and clear liquids draining from nose and ears. When 75-year-old Veena Sadhwani was hit by a city bus she suffered a TBI. In Sadhwani v. New York City Transit Authority, 890 N.Y.S.2d 458 (2009), Sadhwani sued the New York City Transit Authority after she was struck by a city bus. She suffered a skull fracture and a severe brain injury leaving her with permanent diminished cognitive ability.
- Spinal cord injuries. The symptoms of a spinal cord injury include back, head or neck pain, difficulty walking, poor coordination, numbness in hands, fingers or toes, or difficulty in breathing. The most severe damage to the spinal cord can result in paralysis. For example, 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 Mompremier suffered several injuries to her spine including a cervical disc herniation, cervical disc bulge and a disc herniation.
- Broken bones. The reason that broken bones are a frequent consequence of bus accidents is due to the force that is exerted on the bones when a bus collides with another vehicle or when a bus slams into a fixed object such as a pole. Bones that are often fractured include the arm, collarbone, ankle, foot, toe, hand, finger, leg, nose, and jaw. Symptoms of broken bones from can include intense pain, numbness, tingling, protruding bone, limited mobility, or swelling, bruising or bleeding. On January 2, 2001, Zofia Fudali was hit by a city bus while she was crossing the street. Fudali suffered a broken shoulder bone. Fudali sued the New York City Transit Authority and received a substantial award. Fudali v. New York City Transit Authority, 800 N.Y.S.2d 346 (2005).
If you are injured as a result of a bus accident, you may be entitled to several different types of compensation.
- Medical expenses. As an experienced 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 emergency room treatment, hospital stays, visits to your doctor, rehabilitation, nursing home expenses, medical equipment and prescriptions.
- 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. In some cases the injuries are so severe that you are not able to return to work at all. In a personal injury lawsuit you can seek damages for the income you lost while you recover. If you took vacation days or sick time, you should be compensated for the loss of those days. If you are permanently unable to work due to the injury, then you can demand compensation for the lost income that you would have made over the course of your lifetime. Similarly, if the accident resulted in you being disabled in some way that will reduce your future ability to earn a living, you can be compensated for the reduction in earning potential.
- 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. The court may award you both for past pain and suffering and pain and suffering you will experience in the future. For example, in the case of Zofia Fudali, the court awarded Fudali $650,000 for past pain and suffering and $550,000 for future pain and suffering. In making this award, the court considered the following factors. At the scene Fudali was bleeding, a bone was protruding and she was in great pain. She had to undergo two surgeries, take pain medication and undergo physical therapy for several months. She is now physically limited so that she cannot dress herself or hold anything in her left hand.
- 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 a bus hits your vehicle, you may be able to recover the costs of repairing your vehicle.
If a relative was killed in a bus accident, you may be able be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. Damages that you may seek include medical expenses, compensation for the decedent's pain and suffering, lost wages and funeral expenses. In addition, compensation may be awarded for loss of consortium. For example, in Edwards v. Eerie Lines Coach, 952 N.E.2d 1033 (2011), Sheila Edwards, wife of Richard and mother of Brian sued a charter bus company for the wrongful deaths of Richard and Brian. The driver of the charter bus crashed into a tractor trailer, killing 4 people and injuring 19. Evidence pointed to the bus driver causing the accident. Ultimately the bus company settled the Edwards's lawsuit along with other lawsuits for $36 million.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Buses, including MTA buses, motor coach buses, and school buses are not inherently unsafe. However, accidents do occur. A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a bus accident can be complicated, involving complex evidentiary issues related to fault. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving an MTA bus, school bus, charter bus, casino bus, Greyhound bus, Trailways bus, or any other type of bus, it is important that you are represented by an experienced bus accident attorney serving New York. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Suffolk County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, and Westchester County.