Bus Accidents

Bus crashes are often quite different from car crashes. In many cases, it's because of the obvious reasons: Buses are heavier, are generally more difficult to navigate, and carry many passengers and most often do not have seat belts. Some types of buses routinely travel great distances and need regular maintenance.

A major factor in bus crashes is industry regulation – or, rather, lack of regulation – as with tour and charter buses. For many years, federal safety regulations have not required the installation of seatbelts on these types of buses, even though doing so would save lives.

  • Our personal injury attorneys represent victims of bus accidents. When buses roll over or collide with other objects and vehicles, passengers often suffer catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Some lose their lives. We have represented victims and their families in many such cases. Call a Girardi | Keese lawyer for a free consultation at 800-401-4530.

Three Bus Accident Case Examples

In April 2015, the Courtroom View Network wrote about "two litigation powerhouses" going to battle over a 2010 tour bus rollover on a Grand Canyon trip. The "powerhouse" representing the two Chinese tourists who died was Girardi | Keese. The victims were ejected from the bus when it rolled over; one was crushed underneath. Partner David Lira (who has handled bus accident cases for roughly two decades) argued these deaths would not have occurred had the tour bus been equipped with seatbelts.

In a separate case that resulted in a confidential settlement, David Lira and Girardi | Keese colleagues represented every passenger on a bus that crashed. Girardi | Keese filed a lawsuit against the driver, the bus company, and the manufacturer, alleging that the bus was defective because it did not have seatbelts, as well as other safety equipment. The case settled for $35 million dollars.

Is the tour bus industry unsafe? In October 2016, a tour bus on its way to Los Angeles rolled over near Palm Springs, Calif., injuring 31 people and killing 13. As we wrote in a blog post about the crash that November:

  • "Society as a whole doesn't necessarily need more regulation, but it does where safety is needed, and it's needed for tour buses, charter buses, etc. Many buses lack seatbelts, 'forward collision warning systems,' and proper glazing, to name just a few flaws. You know how much it costs to retrofit a tour bus with seatbelts? Just a few bucks a seat, relatively speaking. Compare that to what it costs when passengers needlessly lose their lives."

National Transportation Safety Board investigators on the Palm Springs crash found that the driver failed to brake and slammed into the back of a slow moving tractor-trailer at speeds of roughly 65 miles per hour. It's possible the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Common Causes Of Bus Accidents

In decades of representing people seriously injured or killed in bus crashes, the personal injury attorneys of Girardi | Keese have come to recognize a handful of common types of bus accidents.

Some common causes of bus accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while sleepy or fatigued
  • Impaired driving (whether by alcohol, drugs, or prescription painkillers)
  • Distracted driving (texting while driving, conducting phone calls, navigation, etc.)
  • Improper/negligent bus maintenance
  • Lack of safety equipment (such as forward warning collision systems or seatbelts)

Bus drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, for example – even if only for a brief moment – pose a big danger to passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes "hours of service" regulations that limit the number of hours a driver can work behind the wheel. Drivers must obey the regulations and keep accurate logbooks on their activity. However, though the rules are designed to prevent sleepy driving and crashes that may result, both drivers and their employers often push the limits and/or ignore the hours of service rules altogether.

Common Types Of Injuries Caused By Bus Accidents

In general, rollovers and other types of bus crashes result in catastrophic injuries to multiple passengers. Worse, when a passenger is ejected from the bus in a crash – a common scenario in buses that do not have seatbelts – there is a very high risk of death.

At Girardi | Keese, we represent clients with the following types of injuries:

  • Concussion
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Severe traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis of varying forms (temporary or permanent)
  • Amputation of an appendage or limb
  • Compound fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Disfigurement and scarring

Catastrophic injuries to the brain and spine may require many months or years of treatment. In some cases, such as when the victim suffers paralysis, these injuries require medical care throughout a lifetime.

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the estimated cost of living with paraplegia, for example, is $518,904 in the first year and $68,739 every year thereafter. And those figures do not include loss of income and related costs, which the Foundation describes as indirect costs. That figure is $71,961 annually. A 25-year-old paraplegic can expect to pay $2,310,104 in costs over a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bus Accidents

Why don't buses have seatbelts? The industry argues that not all buses need them. Arguably, school buses don't need seatbelts, as these types of buses aren't as roll prone as others. But every time a bus rolls over and passengers are ejected and killed, or there is some other serious and preventable injury, we bring a lawsuit to drive the message home that the bus industry should put safety first. Still, many buses don't have seatbelts, and for many companies, it boils down to a cost/benefit analysis.

How much is my case worth? It depends on your our ability to prove liability and the extent of your injuries. For all bus accident victims, we work to obtain as much financial compensation as possible for you, so that you are in the best position to rebuild your life. Many have been in your shoes. Many have faced the pain of catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injury and paralysis after a bus accident. We will help you get justice and compensation.

Can I afford a personal injury attorney? If there is no recovery, there is no fee. Personal injury lawyers take bus accident cases on a contingent fee basis. We are paid based on a percentage of your recovery. This allows you to hire a lawyer without paying any fees up front.

Have You Been Injured In A Bus Crash?

Call Girardi | Keese today at 800-401-4530 or contact us online. We offer free consultations to help answer your questions and plan for next steps.