Buses are used not only to transport children to and from school, but also to commute to and from work, to transport the elderly and the handicapped and to travel to far off tourist destinations. When boarding a bus, most passengers falsely assume that their safety is all but assured. Sadly, however, many bus passengers will never reach their intended destination. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hundreds of Americans will be killed in a bus accident each year.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bus accident, it is important you seek the counsel of a New Jersey bus accident lawyer in order to begin the injury claims process. An experienced injury lawyer can assist with financial recovery and with ensuring you recieve the medical care you need. To learn more or discuss your claim, call today.
Safety Standards for Buses
As federally-designated “common carriers,” buses are held to a strict legal standard. All common carriers have a duty of care, whereby passengers are entitled to safe entrances and exits, a trained and highly qualified driver, a properly maintained vehicle and an expectation that vehicle design flaws will be both monitored and corrected.
Passengers who can establish negligence on any of these fronts can pursue full compensation for their injuries. When a bus involved in an accident was operated at the behest of a public entity, however, liability for violating the duty of care is far from straightforward.
To that end, buses owned by a school district or by a city are the responsibility of the district or municipality, while buses that are contracted for use remain primarily the responsibility of the operating bus company.
In the second scenario, when a contract is in place between a bus company and a public entity, the contract must establish in clear, unambiguous terms the expectations of both parties. Such stipulations might include, but are not limited to, driver training or the installation and maintenance of special safety equipment. When an accident occurs and a contract has been breached a New Jersey bus accident lawyer can help victims assess who is primarily – or even secondarily – to blame.
Regardless of whether a bus fleet is maintained by a public or private entity, however, all buses are required to satisfy various state and federal regulations. Buses must provide and document semi-annual inspections. Moreover, before hitting the road, drivers are required to check their vehicle each day and provide a written report of any malfunctioning safety equipment. Drivers must also make note of potential degradation of mechanicals.
Bus Accident Statistics
According to the FMCSA, nearly half of all bus accidents each year will involve city or school buses. Of the 327 children killed in a school bus accident from 2004 to 2013, data maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demonstrates that just 54 fatalities were passengers on the bus, while 147 others were passengers in other vehicles and 116 were pedestrians. Bus accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, such as driver fatigue or inexperience, improperly loaded passengers and cargo or a failure to address faulty or defective equipment. Because passengers are often unrestrained and buses are prone to tipping, injuries sustained in a bus accident are often catastrophic, thereby warranting attention from a bus accident attorney in New Jersey.
Consulting With An Attorney
Regardless of whether a destination is a few blocks or several states away, bus accidents can change the lives of passengers in an instant. The experienced New Jersey bus accident lawyers at Grungo Colarulo provide qualified, compassionate personal injury counsel if you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident.