Passengers throughout Chicago and Illinois routinely use buses for work, travel, and school. And while the vast majority of these trips are safe, approximately 25,000 people are injured in bus crashes every year nationwide, along with nearly 300 fatalities. If you’re hurt in a bus accident, there’s a good chance you will face catastrophic and life-changing injuries, in addition to time lost from work and other significant damages. Who can you count on to fight for you?
Hale & Monico represents passengers, motorists, and pedestrians who have been hurt in bus accidents. If you or someone you love has been injured, reach out to our personal injury attorneys to discuss your legal options.
Common Types Of Bus Accident Injuries
Due to the sheer size and weight of buses, injuries suffered in bus accidents tend to be severe and even catastrophic. Passengers can also get hurt, and they are not necessarily protected by being on the bus itself. Among the injuries suffered by bus accident victims, there are some of the most common:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
If you’ve been in a bus accident, it is essential to see a physician immediately. Not only could your health be at risk, but you could jeopardize your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Many injuries tend to worsen or reveal themselves over time, but failing to see a doctor gives the at-fault party the ability to say something else caused them.
Why Bus Accidents Happen
Most bus accidents happen because of negligence. But it’s not enough to accuse the responsible party of being negligent. It’s important to know the sequence of events leading up to the accident so you and your lawyer can hold the defendant liable in court. These are some of the major reasons bus accidents occur:
- Negligent third-party drivers. Another motorist may have caused the bus accident. As with automobile accidents generally, the cause could be attributed to speeding, violating or ignoring traffic laws and signals, or not paying attention to the road. Distracted driving is a major reason motorists get into accidents, and that could be attributed to texting while driving, talking on the phone, or any number of other things that take the driver’s focus from safely operating the vehicle.
- Negligent bus drivers. The individual driving the bus could have been to blame for the accident. This could further be attributed to many of the same causes above. One factor routinely attributed to bus drivers is fatigued driving. Bus companies often expect their drivers to work long hours or to constantly meet on-time performance benchmarks, with insufficient breaks. When bus companies put profits over public safety, their drivers are more prone to unsafe behavior.
- Negligent bus maintenance or repair work. Bus companies often contract maintenance and repairs to third parties, if they don’t keep the work in-house. Regardless, the individual or company responsible for properly maintaining and repairing the bus could have done poor work or used shoddy materials. Unsafe maintenance and repair work puts everyone at risk, from the passengers to other motorists and pedestrians.
- Manufacturing defects. The parts used to construct the bus or various components of the bus like the braking system may have manufacturing defects. These are difficult to discover and may not be revealed until after a serious accident. However, some manufacturers are well aware of defects in their parts and materials, yet fail to issue sufficient recalls.
Not all bus accidents are the fault of just one of the above parties. Some may be the result of a combination of errors, such as poor maintenance work using defective materials. Piecing together the chain of events that ultimately led to the crash is a difficult task, which is why it’s important to have a skilled Chicago bus accident attorney on your side.
Liability for Bus Accidents
If a third party motorist is responsible for the bus crash, victims may have legal recourse against that driver’s insurance company. As with other accidents, it will be essential to establish the driver’s negligence leading up to the crash.
Bus companies that offer transportation to the public are considered common carriers. That means they transport people, as a paid service, under some government license or authority. Common carriers are held to a higher duty of care than other drivers, meaning they have a responsibility to protect their passengers and operate at an elevated level of safety. Some examples of common carriers in Chicago and Illinois include Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace buses.
Holding a common carrier liable still requires establishing negligence on the part of the company. That means proving that the bus company breached their duty to provide reasonably safe bus service in some way. This breach may be due to any number of things, like failing to screen irresponsible drivers or enact measures that can prevent accidents.
If a government entity, like the city of Chicago, is responsible for operating the bus, there is a different set of rules in play. For example, there’s a shorter statute of limitations, which is the amount of time someone has after an accident to file a lawsuit. Failure to follow the special rules on lawsuits against the government could risk your ability to recover monetary damages.
Contact a Chicago Bus Accident Attorney
After you’ve gotten medical attention for you and any other injured passengers or pedestrians, retain an experienced Chicago bus accident attorney. When you hire Hale & Monico as your law firm, we go to work immediately to investigate the accident and make sure all responsible parties are held accountable. We also demand the maximum damages available under law and work with expert witnesses to present the strongest case possible. Let our team help you today. Give us a call to schedule your confidential consultation.