Phoenix Bus Accident Attorney
Bus Accident Attorneys in Phoenix
Buses are in accidents for many reasons. The first is how buses move in and out of traffic as they pull over at their many stops. Bus drivers continuously turn, stop, start, and change lanes. At the same time, they must deal with passengers.
We cannot overstate the skill and training required to drive a bus. Many veteran bus drivers do their jobs safely, getting their passengers to and from their destination.
However, bus driver negligence – or other mishaps – can cause accidents and severe injuries to passengers and other drivers. If you suffered an injury because of a bus driver’s careless or reckless acts, you may seek financial compensation for your injuries, though you have a challenging road ahead.
Bus accident victims in Phoenix want the attorneys of Gallagher & Kennedy on their side. Our legal team takes on complicated and high-value bus crash cases. Our Phoenix bus accident lawyers have helped settle mass claims against bus manufacturers, obtaining over $60 million for injured or wrongful death victims in three separate bus crashes.
We know how to fight complex bus crash claims, and our Phoenix bus accident attorneys are ready to assess and protect your rights.
Common Causes of Phoenix Bus Accidents
Before the pandemic, Valley Metro buses transported 50 million people each year in the Phoenix area. Although ridership numbers have fallen recently, they are beginning to rise again.
Other people ride private buses and shuttles for school transportation, group outings, or long-distance travel. Most of these trips happen without incident, and riders safely make it to their destination.
However, like many other employers in the country, Valley Metro struggles to retain and recruit a workforce. There are not enough bus drivers, and the transit provider has scrambled to cover all of its routes. Valley Metro has more inexperienced drivers than ever, and they may make rookie mistakes.
Examples of Bus Driver Negligence
A bus driver has the well-being of many people in their hands, but their actions do not always reflect it.
Bus drivers can cause accidents from:
- Not carefully checking the lane beside them as they change lanes or turn
- Distracted driving from checking their phone or sending a text while driving
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Drowsy driving because the operator either worked overtime or drove late at night
- Misjudging the distance between the bus and other vehicles
Potential Defendants in a Bus Accident Case
Besides the bus company, you may hold others liable for your accident injuries. The bus driver is not always at fault for the accident. In some cases, another driver causes a bus accident, injuring bus passengers. Then, you must file a lawsuit against the responsible driver or a claim against their insurance.
Mechanical failures on the bus, such as the brakes not working, may cause other accidents. You can sue the company that manufactured the bus or the defective part when that happens.
How to Win a Bus Accident Lawsuit
You must show that someone else caused your injuries to win a bus accident lawsuit. If you were an injured passenger on the bus, you might hold the negligent driver responsible. If you were a driver injured in a bus crash, you must prove that the driver did not uphold their duty of care.
A four-part test applies when you try to prove negligence. Essentially, you must prove that the bus driver did something that the average bus driver should not have done, whether through an active mistake or inattention.
Here are the four elements of the negligence test:
- The other party owed you the duty to exercise reasonable care
- They breached their duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury, whether it was physical or damage to your property
- You would not have suffered an injury were it not for the wrongful actions of the other party
The Common Carrier Doctrine and How it Affects Your Case
The common carrier doctrine imposes a legal obligation when a bus company transports the general public for a fee. A common carrier has a higher standard of care than the average person in a personal injury case, making it easier for you to prove someone’s negligence.
What Are Some Common Bus Accident Injuries?
Busses present unique dangers, both for passengers and those who are in collisions with them. From the passenger’s perspective, you might not think they are at risk of injury in a crash because a bus is much larger than a car.
However, bus engineering does not always take passenger safety in mind. Passengers do not have seatbelts, and some may stand on a crowded bus. One unpredictable movement or momentary jarring impact can cause a passenger to lose their footing and fall.
The most common bus accident injuries for passengers are neck and back injuries. The sudden movement can cause passengers to fall or move unnaturally. Even a “minor” bus accident can cause lasting neck and back injuries requiring surgery and rehabilitation.
In addition, passengers can suffer fractures from falling and crashing into the hard surfaces of the bus. If they hit their head, they can suffer a traumatic brain injury with lasting effects and complications. Any bus accident injury can mean high costs for medical treatment.
The consequences can be even more severe for motorists in collisions with buses. The average bus can weigh 30,000 to 40,000 pounds. This figure does not even account for the weight of the passengers onboard. The disparity in size between the bus and the car can mean severe injuries for the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Tour and Intercity Bus Accidents
A tour bus or intercity bus accident might injure you—for example, on your way to and from the Grand Canyon.
Tour bus operators often cut corners to pad their profits. They may put buses on the road that need maintenance or are past their prime. These companies may also employ dangerous drivers who they have not adequately screened.
Intercity buses have also experienced their share of accidents as the bus industry has decentralized. Now, numerous small companies compete for business in an industry that Greyhound once dominated. These businesses may not even know about their drivers’ poor safety records.
Another common accident occurs when the bus strikes a pedestrian. Buses often make right turns on their route and pull out of traffic. Pedestrians will suffer serious injuries when buses hit them. If they survive the accident, they may never be the same again. Pedestrians in bus collisions commonly suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or other catastrophic injuries.
How you get compensation for a bus accident injury depends on the liable parties in your situation. Special rules apply if Valley Metro, a governmental agency, were responsible for your accident injury.
Are There Special Rules for Filing a Lawsuit Against Valley Metro?
You can sue a negligent government agency just as you can sue any other defendant that injured you. However, you must file a claim directly with them first, and you have limited time to do so.
In Arizona, the regular statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two years from when you suffered an injury. When you have a claim against a government agency, you have 180 days to notify them. You will present the claim to them first, and they will handle it administratively.
Local Government Is Difficult to Deal With
Phoenix will decide whether they want to settle your claim. If the answer is yes, they will make you a settlement offer. Then, you will negotiate as you would with an insurance company.
Never assume that the government will act any better than an insurance company, though they do not have the same profit motive. Their experienced government attorneys can work against your legal rights and interests.
The government, as the potential defendant in your case, does not get the final say over your claim. If you cannot reach an agreement with them, or if they deny your claim entirely, you can file a lawsuit against them in civil court.
Phoenix has paid millions of dollars to past bus accident victims, and you can hold the city liable for your crash. But you need the right attorney to fight for full compensation in your case. You need Gallagher & Kennedy.
Your Damages in a Bus Accident Case
If you sue a non-public entity, the usual statute of limitations and damages rules will govern your case.
You can recover:
- Medical bills (both past and future)
- Property damage if the bus struck your car
- Lost wages if you cannot work or can only work less than you did before the accident
- Pain and suffering for the entire ordeal that is related to the accident
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
If your loved one died in the accident, your family may seek wrongful death damages if you can prove that someone else was negligent.
The Challenges of Getting Enough Money After Your Bus Accident
Even if liability is not a close call, you may need to fight to get the right amount of money.
Your lawyer starts helping you by informing you of how much money you should seek in damages. Then, they will work to get it by rejecting low settlement offers and convincing the city or insurance company to raise their compensation offer. Lawsuits cost them money to defend. The city will need to devote attorneys to your case, taking them from other areas where they need them. Sometimes, filing a suit will convince them to offer a fair settlement. If that doesn’t work, we can fight your claim in court and seek the money you need to pay for your recovery.
Contact a Phoenix Bus Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in any bus accident, the attorneys at Gallagher & Kennedy are always ready to go to work for you. We are not afraid to take on powerful government entities. Reach out to us for your free, no-risk initial consultation. To speak with us, you can call (602) 530-8400 or contact us online.
We work for you on a contingency basis, meaning you do not need to pay us anything upfront – or even anything – unless you win your bus accident case.
Gallagher Kennedy – Phoenix Office
2575 E Camelback Rd, Suite 1100
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Tel: (602) 530-8400