Despite stringent regulations regarding safety and driver qualifications, thousands of bus accidents occur each year in the United States. Many of these will result in serious injury or even death. How do such accidents happen and what kind of devastating effects could they produce? Here is some important information.
When do Bus Accidents Occur?
When you think of bus accidents, you may automatically think of school buses. Although they are the most common type, bus accidents are not restricted to only school buses, as they may also happen with charter, tour, church, or private school buses as well. Public transportation buses and those used for long-distance travel produce a significant number of accidents as well. Accidents can happen anytime; however, the odds of them increase during inclement weather, at night, or in areas where road construction is ongoing.
Causes of Bus Accidents
The bulky design of many buses makes lane changing cumbersome, leading to numerous accidents. Many school systems still use older, outdated buses that may have mechanical deficiencies. Driver negligence is attributed in many cases, such as when an operator is speeding or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The bus company itself may also use negligent hiring practices, leading them to employ at-risk drivers who later go on to commit accidents.
Types of Injuries
Any time a very large vehicle such as a bus is involved in an accident, the odds of an injury become much higher. Passengers may suffer injuries after being thrown from the bus or from being crushed by the weight of one. Since most buses are not equipped with seat belts or air bags, head concussions are not uncommon. Broken bones, lacerations, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries can also result, leading to permanent disability or the need for multiple surgeries.
Perhaps one of the most devastating effects of a bus accident occurs whenever a child is injured or killed while riding a school bus. Even so, bus accidents can produce some other negative consequences that are not noticed with other types of accidents. For example, travel plans can be disrupted, or passengers could be stranded for long periods of time while awaiting help. This can be in addition to a loss of income or a newfound fear of riding public transportation.
Many bus accident victims suffer from a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in which they experience recurring nightmares about the incident or find themselves having panic attacks whenever they pass a bus on the road. Some will even become overprotective of their children and refuse to allow them to ride a school bus again.
If you are Affected
Bus accidents are a serious thing, which is why many bus companies go out of their way to deny fault or avoid taking any responsibility for what has happened. For this reason, you should carefully document every detail of the accident and keep a careful record of any symptoms due to injury. You should also consult with an attorney who is experienced in bus accidents, as these are investigated differently than regular traffic accidents. Just knowing you have adequate representation is often enough to make bus companies do the right thing and compensate you for your injuries.
Most people take for granted that they will be safe when riding a bus. However, those who are injured know just how devastating a bus accident can be. If you or a loved one has been hurt, the Wisconsin bus accident attorneys here at the Harnitz law firm are here to help. For a free analysis of your case, please contact us.