Have You Been Injured in a Bus Crash?
Buses are a common site across Illinois. Hundreds of thousands of passengers use buses every year to get from place to place. Some buses provide local transportation around a city and service commercial districts, while others use buses as their means to commute to and from work. Still others choose to ride on a bus as they travel out of state to see family or friends. Whatever the reason, Illinois residents are boarding buses in large numbers every year and that is a trend that is expected to continue in the coming decades.
Most of these residents travel safely while aboard these buses but unfortunately, many suffer injuries every year in Illinois bus accidents. Often these injuries are very serious, in part because passengers do not wear seat belts while riding on most buses. With many bus companies servicing Chicago and Illinois as a whole, including CTA, PACE, Greyhound, School Bus, and private chartered buses, it may not be surprising that these bus accidents account for many injuries each year and unfortunately some may result in death. If you sustain an injury, make sure to consult with a Chicago bus accident lawyer ASAP.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
Bus accidents can result in injuries such as:
- Fractures (broken bones) that require surgical repair: Some broken bones may be minor and might just require a simple cast. But other cases of fractured bones can be more severe and require extensive healing. For example, if a person is in a bus during a catastrophic accident or is struck by a bus, they may suffer multiple serious fractures or even crushed bones that can require not just surgery but long healing times. Because of the increased invasiveness required in severe broken bone cases, there is a heightened risk of infection as a complication of the injuries, as well as long term pain and suffering.
- Head and brain injuries: Head and brain injuries can have serious effects on a person’s life, especially when these injuries are caused in bus accidents. Head injuries occur when the head is struck with great force, like against the seat in front of you or against the glass of the adjacent window. Traumatic brain injuries can range from minor, as in a concussion, to more severe, such as a contusion injury in which the brain swells and bleeds. Traumatic brain injuries can cause a bus accident victim to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. For this reason, it’s critical that injury victims pursue compensation immediately after the bus accident occurs.
- Back & neck injuries: One of the most common injuries from bus accidents is neck and back injuries that result from passengers not wearing seatbelts. Neck and back injuries can range from more minor injuries that heal on their own, like whiplash, to longer lasting and more painful injuries like a herniated disk. Whiplash is an injury due to the overstretching of the neck and back muscles, tendons, and nerves due to the back-and-forth motion of the head. They are a common occurrence in bus accidents because of the unnatural pressure applied to the back and neck in a bus accident. Back injuries can also be more severe, especially in situations involving a herniated disc. This can create chronic pain and require surgeries or long-term therapy to repair or alleviate pain.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries refer to injuries that involve the spinal cord or the nerves connected to it that are in charge of controlling the entire human body. They can be incredibly serious and can sometimes lead to paralysis and permanent disability. Spinal cord injuries are not only destructive and painful, but they are also very expensive to treat. Injuries to the spine may require extensive and invasive surgeries, years of therapeutic injections, and an indefinite amount of physical therapy.
- Scars and lacerations: Lacerations that occur during bus accidents often occur because of glass breaking, whether from the surrounding windows or the windshield. Another reason for this type of injury is hard or sharp objects that surround a bus passenger, like handrails. Lacerations can lead to infection and may leave behind scars. In serious cases, lacerations can lead to disfigurement that can cause an injury victim to undergo expensive reconstructive surgeries and emotional distress.
- Wrongful Death: Unfortunately, sometimes bus accidents result in the death of a passenger. Because buses are so large, the force behind them is incredibly great, causing severe injuries. Passengers also do not wear seatbelts, which puts them at an even greater risk of serious brain or spinal damage resulting in fatal injuries. If a family member or other loved one is killed because of a bus crash caused by negligence, it may be possible to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who is Responsible for a Bus Accident?
Like in any type of accident, the facts of each bus crash are unique and specific to that one accident. This means that each time a bus is in an accident, the cause of the crash can be different and the person at-fault might not always be the same. Sometimes the bus driver is at fault, and sometimes it's another third party.
Other Negligent Drivers
Often, bus crashes result when another driver in a car, truck, or van acts negligently. Whether the driver is distracted or simply not paying attention, the failure to drive safely as required by law can result in that other driver causing a collision with a bus. This also can happen in heavy traffic where another driver follows a bus too closely and is unable to stop a bus in time to avoid an accident. Common across the nation are crashes where a driver is speeding, rushing, or otherwise running late and making careless decisions as a result. If a driver runs a red light or a stop sign, fails to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic, or drives in areas for buses only, that driver is likely to cause a crash.
Negligent Bus Drivers
Other bus-related collisions occur as the result of the negligence of the driver of the bus. This can happen if a bus driver is operating on a fixed route that the driver is not familiar with, causing him to miss a bus stop or drive the wrong way down a one-way street. Public bus companies also may require certain on-time performances by their drivers. This means that if a driver fails to arrive at designated stops at a predetermined time, the driver can be penalized or punished. If a driver is running late, this can become an extra incentive for the driver to speed or hurry through a route. This can lead to situations where the safety of passengers is put at risk.
Bus Maintenance Negligence
Some crashes may occur due to a design flaw or the negligent maintenance of a bus. If the bus itself is unsafe or if a mechanic performs maintenance on the bus in an unsafe manner, the driver and the passengers on board may be at risk. One of the most obvious examples of this is when there is negligent maintenance of brakes. A large vehicle with faulty brakes may not be able to stop as necessary to keep its passengers safe. This could cause a collision with another car or a fixed object in the road.
What Legal Rights are Available to a Bus Accident Victim?
As a bus accident victim, the law may provide you one or more civil claims to pursue. The claims available will depend on the circumstances of a specific crash and who is at fault in the accident.
At Fault Third Parties
If another driver causes a collision with a bus while you are a passenger on that bus, you may have a claim against the other driver for your injuries. If the other driver does not have enough insurance coverage available for all of the injuries sustained in the crash or if the other driver has no insurance available at all, you may also have a right to bring an uninsured or underinsured claim against your own insurance company or the bus company itself, if there is UM coverage available.
At-Fault Bus Driver
Alternatively, if the accident is due to a negligent bus driver and you were either a bus passenger or in another vehicle, you may have a claim against the bus driver and the bus company. This is true even if the bus owner is a municipality, like a city bus used for public transportation.
Safety Defects on a Bus
Finally, if the accident is caused by some defect in the bus itself and not through actions of any drivers, you may have a claim against the:
- manufacturer of the bus
- seller of the bus
- owner/operator of the bus
- anyone who performed negligent maintenance while servicing the bus
Any bus driver who is injured in an accident may also have a claim for worker’s compensation for their injuries.
The possibility of so many claims makes a bus accident case complicated and complex. Often the more vehicles involved in the accident, the more complex the claim(s). This is a reason that when choosing a bus crash attorney in Chicago, you want to select one with experience prosecuting personal injury claims.
Chicago Bus Accident FAQ
Bus accidents happen more often than you may think. Below, we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bus accidents.
How often do bus accidents occur?
The most recent statistics available about bus accidents from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show 15,000 bus accidents in the United States that resulted in injuries, as well as an additional 274 bus accidents involving fatalities.
When is a vehicle classified as a bus?
The FMCSA defines a bus as any vehicle that carries nine people or more, including the driver. Therefore, some vans are classified as buses.
What are some of the common causes of bus accidents?
Bus drivers face many of the same challenges as any driver, plus some other unique issues. Some common causes of bus accidents include:
- Driver distraction - Drivers who pay more attention to their phones or other electronic devices are more prone to accidents. Due to the number of occupants on buses, bus drivers also are more prone to passenger distractions than someone operating a car.
- Driver fatigue - Much like a truck driver, bus drivers have a schedule to meet. This often means they work long hours without taking sufficient breaks. The loud atmosphere of a bus can also wear on a driver.
- Speeding - To make their scheduled stops, drivers may ignore speed limits or road conditions due to inclement weather.
- Vehicle maintenance - A poorly maintained bus can crash due to a failing part.
- Insufficient training - Too often, drivers lack proper training on the safest practices for operating a bus. The lack of training or poor training can result in a driver error that can cause an accident.
How often do Chicago bus accidents occur?
In 2018, there were 421 people injured in bus accidents in Chicago. There were no fatalities reported that year.
How common are injuries in Illinois bus crashes?
In 2018, just over 850 sustained injuries in bus accidents, and eight victims lost their lives in Illinois. Further, around 1,500 Illinois crashes involve a school bus every year. An additional 2,733 crashes involved other types of buses.
What do I do after I’m involved in a bus accident?
You may be shaken and in a state of shock after being involved in a bus accident. But there are a few important things that you should do before leaving the scene.
First and foremost, make sure the police are called. The bus driver is typically responsible for calling for emergency services. Nonetheless, if they are unable to or refuse to call for assistance, you should call 911 yourself. The police will create and file an accident report that you can use as critical evidence if you need to seek compensation for any injuries caused by the bus accident.
Obtain witness information
You should also speak to anyone who may have witnessed the cause of the accident or details about your injury. Get their contact information and encourage them to stick around to speak with the police. A police report with a witness statement can be incredibly helpful in building your case. Your attorney may need to contact them later to ask them questions or get them to agree to a deposition for your injury claim.
Make sure that you also do all that you can to document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene, of any other involved vehicles, and of your own injuries.
Seek medical care
After you’ve spoken to the police, you should seek medical attention for your injuries immediately. Receiving medical attention right away is critical for a few reasons. It prevents any injuries from getting worse, it officially documents your injuries, and it protects your legal right to seek compensation. You should also seek medical attention even if you aren't sure of the severity of your injuries. Some injuries, especially significant injuries to the neck and back, might not be immediately apparent due to the adrenaline of the accident. They may not be too noticeable until a few days later. This is why you should seek treatment for pain at a hospital right away. Further, you'll want to avoid inadvertently worsening your symptoms.
Contact a bus accident lawyer
Finally, you should protect yourself by contacting an attorney. The bus company and their insurance company will likely have investigators on the scene within hours of a serious collision. Their quick action should tell you something about how important it is to have your own legal representation that has your best interests in mind. Buses are sometimes operated by or in partnership with the city or county. Because of this, the legal process for filing a claim may differ from that of a private claim. Additionally, there is a shorter time frame for filing a claim against a municipal agency.
How are bus accidents different from car accidents?
There is a significant difference in car weight versus bus weight. The differences vary depending on the type of bus. However, at a minimum, a bus outweighs a car by as much as three times. In addition, you’re probably holding not just a driver responsible, but also the bus company or transportation authority that employs the driver. Claims cannot only be much larger, but more complex.
Bus accidents are also much different than car accidents simply because of the potential number of defendants that could be liable. With car accidents, you’re likely suing one individual person. In the case of a bus accident, you could be suing multiple parties. One of these parties may even be a government entity. This makes the laws and litigation rules that surround the case much different. That’s why you need to hire an attorney. Someone who has experience working on personal injury claims due to Chicago bus accidents.
What types of buses operate on Chicago roadways?
In addition to school buses, it is common to see Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses, some Pace suburban public transit system buses, carriers such as Greyhound, and privately operated charter buses.
Who is liable for bus accidents?
This is not an easy question to answer due to the potential variables. In most cases, either a bus driver or another driver is the cause of the accident. However, there could be liability for the manufacturer if it built a defective bus. Or, the company responsible for the maintenance of the bus may have done something wrong. Even further, there could be negligence by the company or municipality responsible for driver training and hiring. Bus accident liability can be complicated. This is why you should consider working with an attorney who has experience handling these types of claims.
What injuries are common in bus accidents?
As with any type of accident on Chicago roadways, the injuries from a bus accident may in part depend on the speed of travel and the size of the other vehicle or vehicles in the crash.
The most common injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries - Victims of a Chicago bus accident may suffer spinal cord injuries. This may include bus passengers, or occupants of another vehicle, or even a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a bus.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) - Anytime you are in a Chicago bus accident, the potential for TBI is high. The force of a bus accident can result in your head banging on the seat in front of you. Your head could also strike a pole on the bus, or hit the floor.
- Other potential injuries - Depending on the severity of the accident, victims could suffer crushing injuries, internal injuries, and broken bones.
How much can I recover financially after a bus accident?
The amount of money you may collect following a bus accident will depend a great deal on the severity of your injuries. In general, you may recover the costs of your:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- loss of companionship
- lost earning capacity
- damages caused by permanent disability or disfigurement
Families who have lost a loved one in a Chicago bus accident may also collect for any care their loved one sustained before dying as well as compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, and other damages. Speak with an experienced Chicago bus accident lawyer to learn all of your options.
Why contact a lawyer after a Chicago bus accident?
If you sustain injuries in a bus accident, you should contact an attorney as soon as practicable. You will want to work with an advocate who will represent your best interests. Insurance adjusters will attempt to get you to accept a lower settlement than you deserve. The company will not want to pay a large amount of money. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. A good attorney will fight for the maximum compensation that you deserve under Illinois law. Call a bus accident attorney in Chicago for free consultation and learn about your rights.
Bus Accident Injury Statistics in Chicago, IL
Have you been injured in a Chicago Bus Accident?
The Chicago bus accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. will work to help you get the financial recovery that you deserve. Bus crash damages may include: medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of normal life, loss of income, and more. We also look to recover present and future costs when representing an accident victim.
We keep a lawyer standing by 24/7 to take your call at (312) 924-7575. Further, there is no obligation on your part for speaking with us. If you are suffering after a bus accident, call us now and let's see if we can help you.
If you have been injured in a bus accident in Chicago, Illinois, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a personal injury lawyer now.