There were 12 fatal bus crashes in New York in 2018 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those fatal crashes, 3 involved school buses, 4 involved transit buses, 3 involved van-based buses, and 2 involved buses where the type was not indicated. (1)
Bus Crashes Can Injure and Kill
When bus accidents occur, people are often injured or even killed. Unfortunately, buses of all types and sizes have accidents, even school buses.
In one 2020 incident in New York City, a 10-year-old girl was killed while in a crosswalk as a school bus in Brooklyn turned right. (2)
School buses are involved in 26,000 crashes annually. This leads to 9,500 occupant injuries and 10 fatalities per year, according to NHTSA School Bus Crashworthiness. (3)
“Of the people injured in school bus-related crashes from 2008 to 2018, about 36% were school bus passengers, 8% were school bus drivers, and 51% were occupants of other vehicles. The remainder were pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and other or unknown,” says The National Safety Council. (4)
Clearly, school buses are not the only buses involved in accidents.
MTA Bus Accidents
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A bus customer accident injury rate of 1.51 per million and a collision with injury rate of 6.66 per million vehicle miles is indicated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Report Narrative 2018. (5)
This data includes bus accidents for the Manhattan & the Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA). This authority is a subsidiary of the MTA responsible for most transportation on NYC public buses.
In one successful lawsuit against the MTA and MaBSTOA, it was determined a woman had been run over and killed by a bus driver near a bus stop. Her family was awarded nearly $1 million. (6)
A serious bus accident can mean extensive medical bills, lost wages, and time off of work. If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident, a lawsuit may be your best option to gain compensation for your injuries.
Your bus accident may involve:
- The bus itself.
- Fellow passengers.
- Other vehicles.
- Road conditions.
- Weather conditions.
Increased Risk of Bus Accidents
Buses of all types clog New York City Streets. Some are operated by private bus companies. For example, buses only transporting passengers to and from casinos, or the Chinatown buses with cheap fares.
Some are charter buses. Others are tour buses or long-distance buses such as Greyhound. Yet, when they all converge on New York City streets, the chance of accidents increases.
The demands of traffic congestion on city streets also increases the risks of bus accidents. The streets may be narrow and not designed to accommodate larger vehicles.
In 2019, an increase in bus rider injuries was due to “jerky movements as operators try to navigate clogged streets,” says Robert Diehl, then MTA’s senior vice president of the Safety and Security Department. (7) N.Y. state law establishes rules to help prevent accidents and protect passengers from injury. For example, on trips of over 25 miles, it is unlawful for intercity or suburban bus carriers to allow passengers to stand in the aisle. (8)
Unsafe Bus Companies
Further complicating matters are unsafe bus companies. One report identified 10 of the worst bus companies for unsafe driving measures.
Investigators looked at such things as fleet size vehicles per driver, and total violations per unsafe driving violations. They also examined whether the company exceeded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration intervention thresholds. (9)
The companies on the list were found to have 104 violations of unsafe driving in a 2-year period. Of those companies, 4 had violations of hours-of-service compliance, 2 had violations of driver fitness, and 1 had violations of vehicle maintenance. (10)
Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus companies, city leaders, and riders need to understand what factors cause bus accidents:
- Drivers being inattentive, careless, reckless, or negligent – including cell phone use and texting.
- Buses being hit by other vehicles.
- Mechanical failures.
- Safety features not working.
- Unsecured luggage.
Drivers Main Cause of Accidents
Some bus companies “have flouted the rules, skimping on maintenance and forcing drivers to maintain schedules that leave them exhausted. Those factors have contributed to several horrific crashes that have led to calls for greater scrutiny,” according to The New York Times. (11)
Overall, evidence suggests drivers are a primary cause of vehicle accidents. And drivers are most often distracted by cell phone use or texting while driving.
“While drivers texting behind the wheel tops what seems like an endless list of distractions, other risky actions include adjusting the radio, applying makeup, drinking coffee, and talking on your cell phone” says the NHTSA. (12) Nationwide, 2,841 people lost their lives to distracted driving in 2018. (13)
Driver inattentiveness causes accidents too. For instance, when a driver takes their eyes off the road for a moment, no matter what the reason.
Other driver-caused accidents are due to careless driving and reckless driving. The two are similar because they indicate that a motor vehicle is being operated irresponsibly, but reckless driving is a criminal offense and involves a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Negligent driving means the driver could have reasonably done something to prevent the accident from happening. For example, negligent driving would be driving at excessive speed or changing directions without providing enough warning to other drivers.
Bus Accident Settlements
Bus owners, private or public, carry high levels of insurance to provide more comprehensive coverage than standard motor vehicle insurance. Yet some bus company policies provide coverage to each individual passenger while others provide pool coverage to all passengers.
Pool coverage means a certain amount of money is available to cover all passengers who were hurt in a given accident. If some passengers had serious injuries, the amount of money you may be able to recover for your own injuries could be reduced.
Skilled personal injury attorneys may be able to work around these policy limitations if the insurance carrier made mistakes in the policy documents or acted in bad faith.
Strong legal representation such as our personal injury team at Weitz & Luxenberg can help. We understand the complexities of bus accidents and insurance policies, and we have years of experience representing clients left vulnerable by these unexpected events.
Were you or a loved one injured in a bus accident? You may be entitled to compensation.
What to Do If You Have Been Involved in a Bus Accident
There are several step you need to take if you have been involved in a bus accident:
- First, get immediate medical attention for yourself and other victims. Even if you do not think your injuries are severe, you should get checked out by a doctor.
- Next, you should contact law enforcement so a police report can be generated documenting the details of the accident.
- If you are able, document the scene of the accident by taking pictures on your cell phone.
- Obtain contact information for the driver, other passengers, and witnesses. Get the name and contact information for any police officers on the scene.
- When you are able, contact an attorney with experience in personal injury cases.
An attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for any injury you suffered, or the death of a loved one.
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