When you ride on a public bus, you expect to be picked up and delivered to your destination — easily, economically and safely. But when you leave the driving to someone else, you also put your life in their hands. A bus accident can be especially traumatic because, unlike other vehicle accidents, it likely happened due to circumstances completely beyond your control. Additionally, there is a strong possibility that many people were involved, whether they were other passengers or occupants of nearby cars or even pedestrians.
Bus riders typically do not wear safety belts so there is a likelihood of injuries from not being restrained in the seat. The size and bulk of a bus also means damage could have been severe. School and church buses fall into the same category. Additionally, with 20 or 30 or more children riding on school buses, there is potential for many injuries to young riders.
Bus systems that transport passengers are known legally as “common carriers.” They are legally and professionally responsible for the safety of all their passengers, as well as the other nearby vehicles on the road and their occupants. In the event of a wreck where the driver is negligent (meaning it can be proved the wreck was caused by something the driver wrongly did or failed to do), it is possible that bus passengers could receive compensation for the damages that occurred. Typically, if a bus driver is negligent, a lawsuit can be made against the company the bus driver was working for. Some things the driver could do which might make them liable for an accident are:
- talking on a cell phone
- texting while driving
- arguing with a passenger and not paying attention to the road
- falling asleep while driving
- driving while intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics.
On the other hand, not all bus wrecks are caused by the driver. For instance, a car could run a red light and hit the side of the bus so it seems the car driver would be at fault; it is impossible to determine without a thorough investigation. In bus accidents, as in all accidents, it is important to investigate the cause of the wreck and then determine next legal steps. A trained, experienced accident investigator is a crucial part of your legal team. Our accident investigator, Ken Jones, will work to make sure there is a complete investigation of the bus accident.
If you have been injured because you were involved with a bus wreck, you should promptly seek medical attention. As with car wrecks, some problems are immediately obvious while others may take a few days or longer to appear.
Children riding in school buses have legal rights that need to be protected. If you or someone you care about has been involved in a bus accident, please contact the Oklahoma bus accident lawyers at Carr & Carr. Our attorneys have offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but we can also travel to meet you.