Negligence of individuals and companies lead to mass transit accidents, causing expensive injuries – and sometimes, death – for unsuspecting commuters. We can help if you or someone you know are one of the many injured or killed.
Public buses, chartered shuttles, school buses, and streetcars are so embedded in California daily life that we take for granted how much of our safety depends on the drivers, operators, and contractors. We expect these parties to fulfill their duty of providing safe transportation to the public. This isn’t always the case.
If you or a loved one, were injured or died in a Southern California bus crash – whether it’s with a school bus, OC bus, an MTS bus, or even a chartered mass transit vehicle – fighting for your deserved compensation may not be easy. You need a competent attorney to fight on your side. Reach out to us at Barrios & Machado, as we have helped recover favorable settlements for injured Orange County residents and their families.
Call us today at (714) 515-9696
Common Causes Of Bus Crashes in California
Today’s buses are subject to safety regulations and should be outfitted with modern safety features, yet bus wrecks still happen due to rule violations and negligence. Here are some of the top causes of bus accidents involving negligence:
- Unqualified bus drivers. There are strict laws at the federal and state levels regarding the bus driver qualifications. To name some, they need to have a particular type and length of training, pass drug and alcohol testing, and obtain a commercial driving license (CDL). Sadly, too many bus companies violate these standards, allowing unqualified or unvetted drivers to operate their vehicles.
- Distracted driving. Apart from mobile phones, other objects in a bus may also take the driver’s attention away from the road. These include radios, installed vehicle devices (such as GPS), food, and sometimes bus passengers themselves.
- Poor driving behavior. Some public drivers exhibit reckless behavior behind the wheel, which may include speeding, disobeying traffic signs, and failing to observe road etiquette.
- Driving under the influence. As irresponsible as it is to put the lives of many passengers at risk, bus drivers are still caught now and again being intoxicated at the wheel. Even some school bus drivers have been caught with this offense. Driver intoxication may involve alcohol and drugs.
- Driver fatigue. Long hours on the road can make a public transit driver tired or drowsy. California has hour-of-service rules to hopefully prevent bus driver fatigue, yet some drivers and bus companies violate these rules.
- Vehicle malfunction. It is unfortunately common for buses to have faulty brakes, blown-out tires, and other dangerous mechanical errors. Many of these potentially fatal defects result from a lack of bus inspection and maintenance. There have also been cases where buses that failed their inspection were still able to ply our roads.
- Because buses and shuttles are taller than regular passenger cars, they are more prone to losing their balance. An overcrowded bus, or one where luggage weight is poorly distributed, has an increased potential to swerve, tip, or roll over. Overloading is particularly an issue among privately chartered shuttles that may not always adhere to public transport standards.
- Poor road conditions. Bus routes are supposed to have well-maintained roads, adequate lighting, and appropriate traffic signs. Sadly, plenty of roads in California may increase bus accident risk because of pavement cracks, poor design, and congested traffic, among other issues.
Potential Liable Parties In California Bus Accidents
Who is responsible in a California bus crash? Bus drivers are often blamed in vehicle accidents involving a bus, but as we see in the previous section, other parties may cause a bus accident as well. A bus company, vehicle contractor, or even a government entity may be held liable if their negligence led to an injurious bus crash.
For example, if a bus company hired an unqualified driver who later crashed their bus, that company may share the fault with the driver. If a vehicle contractor lacked proper safety maintenance, that contractor could be held liable if the bus malfunctioned.
In some cases, a public agency or a government office could be held responsible – for instance, if they failed to maintain the safety of a public road or failed to address an accident-prone intersection. If it was a school bus that was involved, the school district may also be named as a defendant.
When a private company or a public agency is involved in a bus accident case, victims can expect a more challenging compensation claim. Private companies are ready to fight claims with their well-resourced insurers and legal teams. On the other hand, claims against the government are subject to stricter rules – there are shorter deadlines and an entirely different filing procedure.
Generally, accident laws are different when a bus is involved. This is because buses and other types of mass transit are legally categorized as “common carriers”, meaning they provide mass transport as a paid service. They are subject to different legal concepts and principles from those that govern private vehicles.
In this legal maze, bus crash victims and their families should have a competent attorney handling the case for them. If you hope to obtain the compensation you need and deserve, enlist an accident lawyer who is knowledgeable in California common carrier laws and is aggressive even in the face of powerful opponents.
Free Consultation With Barrios & Machado
The lawyers at Barrios & Machado are well-versed with California laws, and are reputed for their tenacious legal work on behalf of their clients. Your initial consultation with us is free and confidential. Call us at (714) 515-9696 today.