San Diego Bus Accident Attorney
When people think of bus accidents in San Diego and in Southern California in general, in recent times many think back to a shocking bus wreck last year where 25 people were injured on the Los Angeles 405 Freeway in North Hills. The bus reportedly collided with cars, plowed through the center median, and then hit some more cars in the opposite lane. What was supposed to be an afternoon of relaxation quickly turned into a nightmare for those on the highway, especially for the five people who were hospitalized in critical condition.
These kinds of wrecks remind us of the risks around buses and similar vehicles, as well as the laws that apply when these vehicles are involved in a crash. In the event that you or a loved one is hurt in a San Diego bus accident, be aware of your rights and legal options to get compensated.
San Diego School Bus Accidents, Charter Bus Accidents & Motor Coaches
Another crash you may have remembered involved a private charter bus carrying 37 passengers who were coming home from a church event. The bus was a seemingly reliable mode of transportation for the group. In fact, for many organizations – such as church groups, schools, hotels, and sports teams – buses and motor coaches are common, cost-efficient ways to transport a large number of people at once.
But these vehicles are associated with devastating accidents as well. In 2016, for example, a total of 94 transit buses and 16 motor coaches were involved in fatal crashes, resulting in some 121 deaths nationwide.
Buses and coaches come with unique safety risks, and these are some of the most common:
- Unqualified drivers. It takes advanced driving skills to operate a larger vehicle like a motor coach, yet many unqualified drivers manage to slip through regulatory cracks and are able to take the wheel.
- Driver fatigue. Even among highly qualified bus drivers, the long hours and physical demands of the job can lead to fatigue. And when a bus driver is tired or drowsy behind the wheel, he or she can invite disaster.
- Blind spots. A large vehicle like a bus is surrounded by blind spots. This makes it risky for the bus to take a turn or to stop at an intersection. It’s also a collision risk for surrounding vehicles that attempt to pass the bus or make a turn near it.
- Defective vehicle or vehicle part. Brake failure and tire blowouts are some of the most common causes of transport accidents. Often, vehicle defects like these turn out to be the result of a lack of inspection and maintenance by the transport service company.
- Buses and motor coaches are more prone to accidents when they carry more than their maximum capacity limit. For instance, overloading or improper loading could lead to a rollover crash or a blown tire accident.
Buses Are Common Carriers With Special Rules
Buses and motor coaches are legally categorized as “common carriers,” which refer to their function of transporting many passengers at set fees. Because these vehicles impact the safety of many people at once, these buses and coaches must uphold the highest standard of care while on the road. They are also subject to special regulations to ensure safe trips.
Apart from federal rules that apply to buses that cross state borders, there are also state laws that are enacted specifically for common carriers.
In California, transportation companies in the common carrier category are required to give proper training to their employees such as drivers. These companies must also regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles. Each bus or coach must have reasonably safe entrances, exits, and seats.
A bus or motor coach company that failed to meet these standards may likely be found liable if one of their vehicles was involved in an injurious collision. In other words, you may be able to pursue compensation not just from an at-fault driver but also from the service company. It’s possible to do this even if that service company is a government entity like the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
However, note that transit companies, whether public or private, are well-prepared to manage the aftermath of a crash. They are quick to gather evidence, are equipped with powerful insurers, and are ready to face legal actions with strong legal teams.
It is wise for bus accident claimants to protect themselves with an injury attorney. Even if you don’t expect to go to court, your lawyer can be a crucial guide to help you determine the maximum compensation you deserve and build an effective claim for it.
Start by consulting with a good lawyer. Most accident attorneys offer a free and confidential consultation, so you don’t risk anything when you educate yourself.
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