Buses may not be amongst the quickest vehicles on Louisiana’s roads, but they are heavy and can cause significant damage if they are involved in an accident—especially at high speeds. You may also be seriously injured if you were a passenger on a bus involved in an accident.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury or was killed in an accident involving a bus, a Lafayette bus accident lawyer from our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers can help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case.
Buses Present a Unique Set of Dangers
It does not matter whether the bus involved in your accident was privately or publicly owned—if you sustained a serious injury, you could be entitled to compensation. Different bus types have unique specifications, but they all are heavier than the average passenger vehicle and can cause injury or death to passengers and other motorists if they are involved in an accident.
Some features of buses that may increase the risk of injury or death in an accident include:
- Buses often lack seatbelts, airbags, and other safety features typically present in passenger vehicles.
- Buses typically weigh tens of thousands of pounds. This mass can cause serious property damage when involved in accidents with smaller passenger vehicles, which weigh around 4,100 pounds on average, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- The design, size, and weight of buses make them more difficult to maneuver, and they may not be able to avoid accidents that other vehicle types could.
- Their weight and the laws of physics mean that buses cannot stop quickly when traveling at high rates of speed.
Tese factors may increase the risk of a bus being in an accident, heighten the risk of injury or death when a bus is involved in an accident, or both. For these reasons, bus drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles with care, but we know that this is not always what occurs.
For a free legal consultation with a bus accident lawyer serving Lafayette, call (337) 777-7777
Negligence May Have Contributed to Your Injuries
In 2019, large trucks and buses accounted for more than 15 percent of fatal crashes on Louisiana’s roadways, according to data compiled by Louisiana State University, affirming that while they may be professionals, bus drivers are not immune to being involved in accidents.
Like all drivers, bus drivers are susceptible to engaging in dangerous driving behaviors, one of which is distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2020, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Bus drivers who allow themselves to be distracted while driving can put many people at risk, not just themselves.
Some forms of distracted driving, one or more of which could have been a factor in your accident, include:
- Averting their eyes from the road to engage with other motorists
- Making a phone call while driving
- Engaging in any phone-related activity, such as posting on social media or taking their eyes off the road to view a navigation app
- Fooling with the car’s entertainment system
- Taking attention from the road to tend to children, pets, or other occupants in a vehicle
It is ultimately up to a bus driver to understand the danger of distracted driving and other forms of dangerous driving and avoid these behaviors.
Whether you were riding in a bus involved in an accident or were a motorist, passenger, or pedestrian struck by a bus, you could collect compensation covering your injuries or your loved one’s death. Our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers can discuss your case further during a free consultation.
Lafayette Bus Accident Lawyer Near Me (337) 777-7777
A Lawyer Can Assist Your Legal Case
If you were involved in an accident recently, allow a lawyer to handle your legal case while you recover from your injuries. You should do the same if you are mourning the death of a loved one caused by a bus accident.
Some of the duties that a lawyer could fulfill include:
- Initiating your case promptly so that it is filed within relevant statutes of limitations
- Collecting evidence of the accident or circumstances that led to the accident, such as video, photographs, eyewitness accounts, and police reports
- Completing all legal responsibilities necessary to bring your case to a resolution, whether through a judgment or settlement
- Protecting your rights throughout the legal process
One of your lawyer’s responsibilities will be to prove that the defendant(s) in your case acted negligently and are therefore responsible for compensating you for your losses.
Do not wait to call a lawyer. The statute of limitations in Louisiana for both personal injury (CC Art. 3492) and wrongful death (CC Art. 2315.2) lawsuits is generally one year from the accident. Calling a lawyer straightaway may ensure that your case is filed before this statute expires.
There are exceptions to these statutes, so you should call a lawyer regardless of how much time has passed since your accident.
Possible Compensation Resulting From a Bus Accident
Every bus-related accident is unique, and there are no guarantees of the damages you may be eligible to collect. With this said, some possible forms of coverage include:
- Medical expenses caused by the accident
- Lost wages or diminished earning capacity because of your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
If you file a wrongful death claim, you may be entitled to additional awards, including coverage for:
- Lost income of the deceased
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of guidance for children of the deceased
- Funeral and burial costs
We may be able to pursue other forms of damages.
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Who Can Be Held Liable in a Lafayette Bus Accident?
As with any motor vehicle accident, liability varies based on the situation. Who could be liable for negligence that leads to the collision depends partly on the type of bus involved. Generally, liability belongs to the at-fault party. In a Lafayette bus accident, this could be a variety of people or entities, including:
- Bus drivers
- Bus companies
- The company that contracted the bus company
- The company that hired the bus driver
- The city/municipality
- The school district (in a school bus accident)
- Bus or parts manufacturers
- Passengers who were not following the rules
- Third-party motorists
Liability is often a complicated subject in accidents involving large vehicles. The legal professionals at our firm will perform a complete investigation to determine any liable parties in your bus accident and work hard to compile the evidence required to hold them accountable.
Liability in Public Transit Accidents
In accidents involving public transit like a city bus, if the driver was at fault, the city or parish transit company may be held accountable through vicarious liability. Public transit buses in Louisiana must adhere to safety regulations to prevent harm to the public. If any rules are violated, the driver and/or the transportation company could be found negligent.
Public bus accidents are even more complicated than most other large vehicle accidents because the local government owns the transit company. As such, some special rules and restrictions accompany filing a bus accident claim.
Missteps in filing the appropriate paperwork and meeting deadlines could mean you lose your right to compensation. This is why you may want to start working with a bus accident lawyer serving Lafayette, LA immediately if you were involved in a public transit accident.
Liability in School Bus Accidents
Liability in a school bus accident is less straightforward than in a public bus accident because there may be more than one potentially liable party responsible for the driver’s actions, such as:
- The school district
- A third-party company used to hire the driver
Typically, the school district owns the buses and hires bus drivers. Under those circumstances, the school district may be held accountable for the driver’s negligent acts. Public schools are a part of the local government like public transit; therefore, special rules and procedures may be involved in a personal injury claim against them.
Sometimes, school districts contract with third-party entities to hire bus drivers or take care of the entire bus operation process, providing the fleet and the drivers. The latter is increasingly common, since the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shortage in Lafayette Parish school bus drivers, according to KATC-3.
In these cases, the third-party agency is responsible for vetting and hiring the drivers and ensuring they know the rules and regulations. These companies may be held liable for the driver’s negligence in an accident.
School Bus Accidents On the Rise in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
Holding the liable party responsible for school bus accidents is crucial as school bus crashes have been rising in Lafayette Parish since 2010. The Daily Advertiser reported more than 250 bus accidents in the area from 2010 to 2015, representing 25 percent of all school bus crashes in the state during the same five-year period.
Bus drivers were ticketed in 113 of the crashes, indicating fault. The remaining accidents resulted from other factors or drivers on the road.
A bus accident lawyer at our firm can assist you in filing a personal injury claim and helping you seek justice for these preventable accidents that put you, your child, or other loved ones at risk.
Call Our Team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Today
We want to protect you from incurring further financial damage because of an accident you did not cause. Call our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.