A recent tour bus crash in Baton Rouge which closed I-10 during rush hour reminds us how very dangerous bus crashes can be due to the sheer size of these types of vehicle as well as the number of occupants. Across the United States, approximately 1,800-2,000 buses are involved in collisions each year with the number of fatalities from these crashes averaging 250 per year. Over 20 percent of bus crashes involve another vehicle, whereas approximately 25 percent involve a collision with a stationary object, and over 50 percent are rollover accidents. Overall, negligence is the root cause of many of these bus accidents and victims of the collisions should know help is available.
If you are a parent who is worried about your child being transported by a school bus to and from school each day, you can be reassured: students riding in school buses in the U.S. are eight times safer than those riding in automobiles driven by parents or guardians. Still, bus injuries and accidents do occur, even in school buses, for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common factors associated with bus accidents include:
- Driver error, including bus driver fatigue. Driver error accounts for as many as 85% of all bus accidents, with fatigue being the most common form of driver error. Too many hours of consecutive driving, poor sleeping habits, navigating heavy traffic, meeting tight scheduling deadlines, making unanticipated route changes and dealing with difficult customers can all contribute to driver error, resulting in a potentially deadly accident. Inattention and driving under the influence on the part of the bus driver can also result in a tragic bus accident.
- Driver negligence. Some of the more common bus driver violations include changing lanes improperly, veering off the road, failure to yield the right of way and exceeding the speed limit with failure to yield the right-of-way being the most common.
- Equipment failure. Mechanical failures can occur in buses in the same way they occur in large commercial trucks. Defective tires or brakes or poor maintenance can be responsible for a bus accident and following an accident an emergency exit failure or unsafe gas tank could also cause injury to the passengers.
- Roof failure. Particularly in 15-passenger vans, roof crush results in 41 percent of deaths during a rollover. It is particularly important that the roof area of a bus meet all federal regulations which dictate that the roof must sustain no more than five inches of roof crush while supporting one and a half times the weight of the vehicle. Should the roof crush exceed that five inches, negligence on the part of the manufacturer may be the issue.
- Road conditions. Whether natural or man-made, weather, animals or road construction can change the inherent safety of the roadways. Should poor maintenance of the road be responsible for the bus accident then a governmental entity may be held responsible. In the same way, if the road is poorly designed (sharp curves, dangerous merging lanes, etc.) negligence on the part of a governmental agency could be alleged.
- Unsafe seatbelts. Studies done by the NHTSA have concluded that the addition of lap belts in large buses would be unlikely to reduce injuries sustained by passengers in a head-on crash. In fact, those same studies indicate that adding lap belts might even cause additional harm such as abdominal or neck injuries, particularly in children.
If your damages have not been satisfied, including reimbursement of any financial losses you have suffered, or if an insurance company is either denying your claim or delaying payment of your claim, you could benefit from a consultation with Gary P. Koederitz at the Koederitz Law Firm. Mr. Koederitz is an experienced Louisiana lawyer who has represented hundreds of individuals injured in accidents in Louisiana. We have over three decades of experience helping people receive the settlement they are entitled to. Call (225) 295-9494 today for a free consultation; we will ensure your rights are fully protected while offering you the benefit of our extensive legal knowledge and experience.