The state of California is among the states with the highest population. The U.S Census Bureau recorded that as of 2019, California’s population was at 39.51 million people. Because of the many metropolitan areas a considerable number of these people use buses to move around town or go to work. Due to this fact, bus accidents are bound to occur more often. Many San Diego residents and their loved ones have been affected due to bus collisions, either directly or indirectly. Studies show that out of all the injuries and fatalities occurring in accidents, roughly 1800 of them are due to bus crashes.

Bus accident-related injuries and losses can be severe. Luckily, if you’re the victim and someone else’s negligent behavior caused the collision, you may be able to recover compensation. We at the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm will assist you through the claim filing and damages recovery process. While at it, we will ensure that you recover the highest possible compensation.

School Bus Accident Statistics

California is one of the states that records the highest cases of school bus collisions in the nation. An NSC (National Safety Council) research found that 117 people died due to school bus crashes in 2018 countrywide. NSC acquired these statistics from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). When documenting these accidents, the NHTSA considers all the other vehicles used as school buses regardless of the auto’s body design.  Most school bus collisions involve minors boarding and alighting from the school buses.

School buses are among the safest means of transport in the U.S. Each year, over 450,000 school buses carry about 23.5 million pupils and students to & from school countrywide. The buses cover over 4 billion miles each year by transporting minors to & from school, school trips, or other related events. Compared to the other means of transport, students and pupils are safer when traveling on school buses.

As far as school bus accidents are concerned, the mortality rate is at two deaths for every 100 million miles traveled in California. On the other hand, the other autos’ mortality rate is 1.5 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled. When we compare these statistics, school bus crashes may be common in California, but school buses are still the appropriate form of transport for school-going children.

The enhancement of school bus safety is primarily because of the California Department of Transportation rules. These rules revolve around lap belts installation and bus compartmentalization. Compartmentalization involves creating protective compartments by the use of closely positioned seats with higher energy-absorbing seatbacks. This design assists in protecting occupants in the event of a collision.

As per a report compiled by the NHTSA, about 281 school-going minors died after involvement in school bus-related collisions between 2007 and 2016. Out of these 281 fatalities, 58 were school bus occupants, whereas 116 were occupants of other autos, eight were bicyclists, 98 were pedestrians, and one was ‘other’ non-occupant. The NHTSA report indicated more deaths of school-going children occupying other automobiles than minors riding in school buses.

Further studies conducted by the NHTSA revealed that:

  • Over the past ten years, a total of 1,147 deadly crashes involving school buses were reported in the U.S.
  • Most of the minors involved in these accidents aged between five and thirteen years
  • Many of the crashes occurred during early morning hours when the children reported to schools or evening hours when they returned

Should your child suffer injuries after a school bus-related collision caused by someone else’s negligence, reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer to help you claim compensation.

Bus Accident Statistics for Other Types of Buses

Almost every week, bus crashes occur in the U.S. According to data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 17,678 bus accident cases were reported countrywide in 2019. The good news is that this was a drop of about 1.1% from the 2018 statistics, where a total of 17,869 cases were reported nationwide. As of 30th June, 3,717 bus accidents had been reported for the year 2020. The FMCSA data also indicated that 280 people died from the reported crashes, a drop of about 10% from the 2018 statistics, where 312 people passed away. As of 30th June, the number of recorded fatalities was 66 for the year 2020.

Lastly, referring to the same FMCSA data, 17699 people sustained injuries from the bus accidents, which is also a drop from 18,629 injured persons recorded in 2018. And as of 30th June, 3,482 people had already been documented to have been injured in bus accidents in 2020.

In 2017,  the FMCSA data indicated that 232 deadly crashes involving buses occurred during the year alone. However, this was a one percent decrease from 234 fatal bus collision cases reported in 2016. And between 2007 and 2017, intercity buses accounted for 13 percent of all deadly bus crashes in the United States, school buses accounted for 40 percent, and transit buses accounted for 35 percent. In 2017 alone, thirteen intercity buses in the United States were involved in fatal accidents. This was the lowest number since the FMCSA started recording bus accident data.

Car vs. Bus Crash Statistics

A study published in the Journal of Safety Research revealed that traveling in buses per mile isn’t safer than driving in cars. Bus collisions occupy a relatively small percentage of all the accidents (approximately 0.6 percent). However, the total number of bus collisions per million passenger miles (about 3.04) can be compared to the number of car crashes per million driven miles (about 3.21). Buses might appear to be safer because of their slower speeds and larger size. However, as far as a mile for a mile is concerned, they are hazardous as regular vehicles.

What are the Major Causes of Bus Accidents Per Statistics?

Different researches have been conducted on the bus accident occurrences and the impact they cause. These studies didn’t stop there. The researchers also investigated what causes these accidents and which cause is on top of the list. From the research, bus crashes don’t occur as often as other vehicles like cars. Yet when they occur, their effect is more substantial due to the number of occupants involved. The studies also revealed that these accidents happen due to several reasons. Common ones include:

Driver’s Age

In a study by the Journal of Safety Research, it is reported that about 83 percent of motorists involved in various bus accidents showed no signs or symptoms of dangerous behavior. This study also revealed that risky behaviors in drivers tend to upsurge as a motorist becomes old. The research’s model indicated that compared to motorists between thirty-five and fifty-five years, drivers over sixty-five years old increase the possibility of light injuries by approximately 18.6 percent. They also increase the likelihood of non-debilitating severe injuries by about 33.1 percent, severe debilitating injuries by roughly 52.3 percent, and death by about 18 percent.

The reason for all this could be that elderly drivers have underlying medical conditions and are compelled to take medication. The drugs they take may make them fatigued or impaired, yet they still feel they can go on driving. The health issues of these drivers were discovered to contribute to the increased risk of crashes they cause.

Driving While Intoxicated

Even though this isn’t a common practice as far as bus drivers are concerned, some drivers’ intoxication leads to catastrophic accidents. Drivers of buses and other commercial vehicles are held at a higher standard of care towards other road users. When either drugs or alcohol impairs them, they’ll be incapable of practicing this care. Consequently, they’ll drive recklessly and cause crashes that cause injuries or even death to the involved parties.

As per the studies, drunk-driving is among the primary causes of catastrophic or deadly collisions. About 40.6 percent of road crashes involve impaired motorists, with a few of them being bus drivers.

Driver Fatigue

Bus drivers are usually working for extended hours than regular drivers. In essence, bus drivers’ wages are based on the number of hours they drive. This means for them to earn a lot of money, they have to work more. Consequently, drivers usually violate their hours of service, as stipulated by the FMCSA. FMCSA rules outline the number of hours a motorist should drive and the number of hours they should rest. Drivers have to indicate their operation and resting periods in their logbooks. However, some falsify logbook data to earn a lot of money.

When a driver works for extended hours, they’ll be exhausted, and this may easily result in severe errors that may be fatal. It’s reported that fatigued drivers cause approximately 13 percent of bus crashes in the United States. If bus companies and drivers complied with the regulations of hours of service, research showed that motorists would be exhausted less, leading to fewer accidents.

Driver Inattentiveness

Driver inattentiveness or distracted driving is also a common cause of bus accidents. With the increase of mobile phones and texting, distracted driving is the primary reason behind several bus crashes. In 2015, about 4,000 deaths occurred due to distracted driving. Consequently, most states have started adopting stricter punishments for texting while operating a vehicle.

Poorly or Unmaintained Buses

It’s expensive to keep buses in proper conditions as the law requires. Most bus drivers and companies take shortcuts as far as bus maintenance is concerned to increase profits. Unluckily, poorly maintained buses may lead to accidents, which is even more expensive, especially when people sustain injuries or die. The law requires bus companies to keep bus maintenance records to protect themselves from being held accountable should a collision happen.

Unruly Passengers

Research also indicates that passengers also contribute to crashes. Some passengers can be unruly and hard to control. Bus drivers find themselves losing control of their vehicles when attempting to control their passengers. Consequently, passengers’ disorderly conduct plays a role in bus collisions, though not significantly.

Poor Roadway Conditions

Another research concerning bus accident causes found that bad states of the roads also play a role. When the roadway isn’t properly maintained or repaired, it might develop cracks or potholes, which, when a bus drives over them, it may topple and fall, leading to injuries or fatalities. Also, when roads aren’t adequately designed or marked, they play a role in bus accidents. As per the NHTSA data, only approximately  25% of the nation’s roadways are in proper condition. Due to the poor road conditions, most bus crashes happen.

Adverse Weather Conditions

Drivers can’t control weather conditions. At times, a driver could suddenly experience a heavy downpour or a storm, leading to poor vision. In case a motorist is incapable of clearly seeing his/her surroundings, a crash may be the result. Also, slippery roads due to heavy rains or ice may make it hard to drive, ending in a collision.

Other Road Users

Bus crashes aren’t entirely due to drivers’ mistakes. Studies have indicated that other people on the roads also play a role in bus crashes significantly. When a driver of another auto is reckless, or his/her vehicle is defective, he/she could crash into other automobiles, including buses. Pedestrians also cause bus accidents. In case a pedestrian recklessly crosses the streets, they may be knocked down by a bus, which leads to significant injuries and, sometimes, death. Bicyclists, like other road users, also contribute to crashes involving buses and themselves substantially.

Injuries Resulting From Bus Accidents

When bus accidents occur, regardless of the cause, there are consequences, including minor to severe injuries and mortalities. These repercussions don’t only affect bus occupants, but they also affect other road users like pedestrians. Generally, buses are designed without safety/lap belts for passengers. Consequently, a minor impact may cause substantial harm to the vehicle occupants, save for other people. Suppose a bus driver suddenly brakes to prevent a hazardous situation. In this case, injuries will likely occur when occupants hit their bodies against the bus or each other. Common bus accident-related injuries are:

Spinal Cord and Head Injuries

Bus collisions usually involve severe trauma and extreme forces that may cause an occupant’s head to smash into the seat or whip around violently. When unexpected blunt-force trauma occurs, it may result in severe spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and whiplash. Thus, bus crash victims could be subject to lifetime disabilities, for instance, permanent paralysis.

Cuts & Lacerations

Buses have sharp metal poles & benches throughout and several glass windows. If a bus collides with another vehicle, occupants may sustain lacerations or be cut by metal or glass debris. If the tears are serious, the victim might sustain severe tissue damage or blood loss. Tissue damage may eventually cause permanent scarring or disfigurement. Severe lacerations may also be infected, resulting in life-threatening health conditions. If left untreated, the infections may turn fatal.

Broken Bones

Bus occupants may fall when the vehicle stops suddenly or hits an object. Consequently, broken bones injuries commonly happen in bus accidents. Fractures may range from simple broken bones to more complex crushing injuries that need extensive surgeries. Certain broken bones may be severe enough to lead to permanent disability.

Internal Injuries

If a bus hits a cyclist or pedestrian, the outcome is mostly fatal. The reason for this is that cyclists and pedestrians lack protection. Therefore, their bodies absorb all the forces of the crash. Cyclists and pedestrians are at a higher risk of sustaining internal injuries like kidney damage, punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, and liver lacerations. If they aren’t treated on time, internal injuries may turn fatal.

Liability in California Bus Accidents

Just like car collisions and other vehicle accidents, it can at times be challenging to establish who is to blame for a bus crash. Accidents that involve negligent acts like texting while driving or drunk-driving may be simple to evaluate since liability can be clearly placed on the impaired or driving-while-texting driver. But when crashes involve buses, putting guilt on the right party can be challenging.

The preliminary investigation into a bus collision will establish whether any motorist violated traffic rules, which might have led to a crash. It might turn out that it was the motorist of another auto that’s solely at-fault for the collision. In these cases determining liability and resolving a lawsuit or insurance claim is not entirely different from other motor vehicle accidents.

If a bus accident personal injury attorney uncovers proof that indicates a bus driver acted negligently causing or contributing to an accident, the investigation may become challenging. Apart from the bus driver, the company that hires or owns the bus driver could also be involved as a liable party and be subject to a lawsuit or insurance claim for compensation.

In case the bus involved in the crash is a city bus, the city might be held responsible because it is accountable for its employees’ actions. And if the bus is a charter bus carrying students to & from any event, the responsible parties here might involve the driver, the school, and the company that hired or owned the driver. The law dictates that if a bus driver’s behavior is the direct cause of a crash, the employer will become a necessary party that’s considered responsible for their employee conduct.  Bus crashes will mostly involve more than one party as far as determining fault is concerned.

Multiple Parties Liability

Generally, bus accident causes aren’t much different from car accident causes. Thus, determining who is directly to blame for the accident might not be highly complicated. But when several parties (apart from the persons involved in the crash) play a role in establishing guilt, bus accident investigations can be intricate. Other parties that can be liable in these kinds of accidents are the bus Maintenance Company, owner, bus manufacturer, bus part manufacturer, driver supervisor, other vehicle drivers, bus stop property owner, and county/city/state agency. If you have suffered injuries in a bus-related accident, you will better understand how you can evaluate liability by talking to an experienced bus accident personal injury attorney.

Note that in particular cases, you as the victim can also be blamed for causing the accident. Regardless, you may still be capable of claiming compensation. As per the state’s comparative fault law, the complainant can recover compensation even if they share a given degree of liability in causing the crash. But the damages will be reduced based on the complainant’s share of guilt.

But for you to be compensated for the injuries you sustained in your bus accident, you have to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the liable party’s negligent actions caused the collision. The elements of negligence include:

  • The liable party/parties owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached the duty.
  • Their violation of the duty caused your injuries.
  • You suffered damages as a result of the injuries.

Statute of Limitations in Bus Accident Cases

A statute of limitations is the amount of time an accident victim has to file a suit. Mostly, bus accident injury lawsuits in California State have a two-year statute of limitations. If you don’t file a claim within the stipulated period, you will lose your right to bring a lawsuit, and you may be incapable of recovering damages.

But claims against a government entity may have other notice deadlines that the accident victim must meet. Generally, an injury claim must be submitted to the government within six months of the collision. In case the victim doesn’t present a notice of the claim in six months, they may not recover damages. 

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

If you’re involved and hurt after involvement in a bus crash, regardless of how minor the injuries are, you may be able to recover damages. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm will help you through the process of filing a personal injury claim or if need be, a lawsuit. Apart from that, we may be able to negotiate with the liable party’s insurance company successfully so that you can receive fair compensation. If that is not possible, and your case must move to court, we will gather all the proof you need to increase your chances of winning. Call us at 619-478-4059 to talk with our experienced personal injury lawyers.