Richmond Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a large bus or motor coach, you may need an attorney to help you navigate the laws that apply to bus crashes. The bus accident attorneys at the Halperin Law Center in Richmond have the experience required to litigate your potential claims.
We can take on the following parties:
- Bus companies
- Bus drivers
- Tour operators
- Tour brokers
Accidents involving buses are often more devastating than crashes with only passenger cars involved, as more passengers are involved in the collision and the vehicle sizes differ greatly.
When there are serious injuries or death resulting from a bus accident, the victims should ensure that they seek out a Richmond personal injury attorney who is experienced in bus accidents cases. They need to ensure they act fast, as time is of the essence in making these claims and ensuring evidence is preserved. At the Halperin Law Center, we can navigate the myriad of complex laws and regulations involved in bus accidents, fighting for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Regulations for Buses
With private tour buses, commercial buses, school buses and public transportation buses on the road and the dangers inherent in the operation of buses, proper regulation of bus companies, buses, and bus drivers is critical.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) has established a very detailed set of laws, known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”). These regulations were developed to keep the driving public safe. In addition, the FMCSA collects, analyzes, and publishes crash statistics and data in order to understand the causes and possible ways to prevent commercial motor vehicle injuries and fatalities in the United States.
The FMCSA measures the safety performance of bus companies in certain key compliance and safety areas as part of their Safety Measurement System (“SMS”). The system provides an assessment of a bus company’s safety and compliance performance. Performance is evaluated using Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or “BASICs.”
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The FMCSA Safety Rating System
Another useful tool developed and maintained by the FMCSA with respect to motor coaches is their safety rating system. They issue three types of ratings: satisfactory, conditional, and unsatisfactory. A bus company that has received a conditional rating may present a higher safety risk compared to a satisfactory rated one. Bus companies who have an unsatisfactory rating should not be operating. If a company has a less than satisfactory safety rating, it likely does not have proper safety management controls that would ensure compliance with all FMCSA safety standards.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
There are a wide variety of things that can cause bus accidents, but violations of the FMCSR are often the root of the problem. Given the large number of regulations included in the FMCSR, there are hundreds of potential violations that could lead to an accident. These violations might involve the driver, the bus itself, the driver’s actions, or actions of the bus company.
Some of the most common causes of bus accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Driver fatigue
- Insufficient driver training
- Lack of bus driver experience
- Distracted driving
- DUI or under the influence of drugs
- Excessive speeding
- Defective equipment
- Failure to properly maintain the bus
- Weather conditions
- Driver error
One of the most common factors contributing to bus accidents is driver fatigue. By some estimates, as much as 30% or more of bus accidents involve a fatigued driver. Because of their work, some bus drivers suffer from sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep cycles. In addition, drivers may be driving for an excessive number of hours and fail to take appropriate rest and sleep breaks. Many commercial bus and motor coach companies are in competition for business and seek to increase their profits, often resulting in strain on drivers. If drivers don’t get adequate sleep, they put all their passengers and those around them on the road in danger.
Lack of Driver Training & Experience
Bus drivers are required to have special training and undergo testing to obtain a commercial driver’s license (“CDL”). There is no substitute for real-world experience, and thus many drivers may make mistakes due to lack of experience.
The consequences of lack of experience and proper training include the inability to react properly to serious dangers on the road, changing weather conditions, or poor driver decisions. They are also at more of a risk for failure to comply with Federal and State regulations and safety procedures that due to a lack of awareness. If motor carriers fail to hire experienced bus drivers or fail to provide ample training to their bus drivers, they may be held liable.
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Use of Drugs or Alcohol
Some bus drivers may use stimulants to combat fatigue, drive more miles, or arrive at a destination at a certain time. An intoxicated driver with a large, heavy bus or motor coach is dangerous and deadly. The use of alcohol or drugs by bus drivers can cause the driver, the bus company, and even a tour company to be liable for damages and injuries caused by an accident. Hiring unsafe drivers or unsafe bus companies can result in liability for the tour operator who arranged the transportation. The failure to properly investigate the safety record of a driver or motor carrier can have disastrous and deadly effects.
We know that our cars seem very expensive to maintain. Keeping that in mind, buses and large motor coaches are very expensive to maintain. Unfortunately, that means many bus companies and drivers will cut corners to save on their costs and increase profit. The FMCSR requires that buses be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that they are in a safe and fully operational condition. Inspection and maintenance of the buses must be documented and the records of such inspection and maintenance must be kept up-to-date. Equipment failures on buses and motor coaches can have catastrophic and even fatal consequences, injuring the bus driver, passengers and others on the roadway.
Equipment failures due to a lack of inspection can cause accidents, such as:
- Missing lights
- Missing reflective markers
- Defective or worn tires
- Defective or worn brakes
In addition to liability for the driver and motor carrier, third-party maintenance and repair companies could also be liable for injuries sustained in accidents caused by defective equipment, as well as bus and bus part manufacturers.
Driver error is often responsible for causing bus accidents. Errors committed by drivers are a major factor in many accidents and may be worsened by many factors, including poor weather, fatigue, distractions (texting, eating, drinking), violations of roadway safety rules, and various other issues. For example, if a bus driver tries to improperly pass or fails to yield to another driver, it could lead to a serious collision. The Richmond bus accident lawyers at the Halperin Law Center have the experience and knowledge needed to manage your bus accident case from intake through resolution, including trial if necessary.
Contact us today for a free consultation with our experienced attorneys!