San Diego is filled with beautiful attractions and neighborhoods that attract many tourists. This makes the tour bus an economical way to get around. Tour bus accidents may be inevitable with all the tour buses on the roads and drivers who operate for long periods without rest. These accidents often involve multiple parties and vehicles; thus, assigning liability is difficult. When you get involved in a catastrophic tour bus accident, you may leave with severe bodily injury. However, you can file a lawsuit against liable parties and recover compensation. Collecting evidence and filing a claim for a bus accident will be easier if you seek legal guidance from San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. Our group of top-notch attorneys works diligently to ensure the best outcome for all our clients.

Overview of Bus Accidents

A catastrophic tour bus accident can be scary. The injuries that result from such an accident could be life-changing for you and your family. Buses are heavy vehicles, and they ferry many passengers. This makes it difficult for them to maneuver tight spaces on the roads. There are several ways in which a tour bus could get into a collision:

  • Pedestrian accident. A pedestrian accident could occur when a tour bus hits pedestrians as they cross the road. Also, the driver could lose control of the bus and hit people on the street sidewalk.
  • Head-on collision. When a tour bus crashes onto another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, the result could be a catastrophic head-on collision.
  • Rear-end car collisions. Due to their large size and heavyweight, buses have a longer stopping time; buses are more prone to rear-end collisions. This occurs when the bus hits another vehicle from the rear end.
  • Rollover accidents. A rollover accident is one of the most catastrophic accidents in which a tour bus could get involved. This could be as a result of hitting a stationary object or driver losing control of the vehicle.

If you get injured in a tour bus accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The legal process of getting compensation from a bus accident varies depending on the type of accident and the parties involved.

Common Causes of Tour Bus Accidents

Bus crashes occur in many ways, some of which are from within the bus, while others are external factors. The following are some common causes of bus collisions:

  1. Distracted driving — Distracted driving is when a driver performs any other activity while on the wheel. This takes attention from the road and increases the risk of getting into a collision. Distracted driving includes anything from texting to eating while driving.
  2. Driving while intoxicated — Tour buses often ferry many passengers and are thus quite heavy and difficult to maneuver. When a driver is operating while under alcohol or drug influence, it is difficult to make important decisions on the road. Drunk drivers cause some of the most severe bus accidents in California.
  3. Lack of passenger protection — Most passengers on tour buses may be so interested in enjoying the surroundings that they forget safety measures. When passengers don't use seatbelts, a minor accident could turn catastrophic. This is because they may be thrown off the bus or hit by hard objects from the crash.
  4. Over speeding — A vehicle that is traveling at high speed could be quite difficult to stop. When a tour bus driver is operating at high speed, they may not stop the vehicle in emergencies and thus get into a crash. Tour bus accidents resulting from excessive speed often result in severe injuries or even death.
  5. Driver fatigue — Tour bus drivers operate for long hours and are more prone to fatigue than other drivers. When a driver is fatigued, they cannot properly maneuver the vehicle or make wise driving decisions. This increases the risk of making unreasonable moves and getting into a crash.
  6. Faulty bus parts — Malfunctioning of the bus part is one of the most common causes of bus accidents whose occurrence is not anticipated. One of the bus parts that could fail and result in an accident is the brakes. Brakes are a crucial part of the vehicle that allows a vehicle to stop in emergencies. When the tires and seat belts fail to function properly, you will likely suffer serious injuries in a tour bus accident. The bus company has a responsibility to get the vehicle repaired to avoid such occurrences.

Common Injuries in a Tour Bus Accidents

Tour bus accidents are often fatal, and the injuries resulting from the collision is catastrophic. Immediately after an accident, it is crucial to seek medical attention to endure your injuries' early detection and treatment. Some of the common injuries you are likely to suffer in a tour bus accident include:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain damage is one of the most traumatic injuries you could suffer from a car accident. Such an injury arises when there is trauma on the skull, or a sharp object penetrates your head. In a catastrophic bus accident, your body's impact is immense and could result in this injury. Brain injury can immensely affect your life and ability to live your life normally. Therefore, you may have to depend on other people to perform simple tasks for you. If you or your loved one suffers brain damage from a tour bus accident, you are entitled to compensation.

Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a very vital part of the body, and it controls numerous functions. If you get involved in a tour bus accident, you likely receive trauma on your back. Depending on the point of injury, you can suffer mild to severe injury on your spine. If the impact is heavy, your spinal cord can be completely severed. This could leave you with a lack of motility below the point injury.

Broken Bones

Tour buses ferry many passengers, most of which do not adhere to safety measures such as using safety belts. When a tour bus gets into a collision, the passengers may be hit on the vehicle's walls or by other objects. This could cause broken bones throughout the body. Broken bones take a long time to recover, and you may spend a significant amount of time in the hospital. Also, severe damage to the bones of the limbs may cause you to get an amputation.

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries resulting from a tour bus accident may either be internal bleeding or damage to internal organs. An external wound is not required for you to suffer internal injuries. The most common internal injuries suffered by bus accident victims include:

  • Rupture of the spleen
  • Internal bleeding in the brain
  • Kidney injuries

These injuries are often fatal and are not easy to detect. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident, ensure you seek immediate medical care.

Liable Parties in a Tour Bus Accident 

Issues of negligence and recklessness surround most bus accidents. A bus is considered a common carrier, and the owners have a responsibility to provide the highest degree of safety and care for its passengers. The state government regulates these safety duties, and all tour bus companies are expected to abide by these guidelines. Failure to follow the government rules is a disregard for the safety of others and is considered negligence.

If you get injured in a tour bus accident, you could file a claim against the liable parties and seek compensation. Liability for a tour bus accident is often based on the negligence of parties involved in the collision. To successfully bring a personal injury claim for a bus accident, you will be required to prove the following negligence elements:

  1. Duty of care 

The duty of care is an obligation that each person has to avoid causing injuries to other people. In most cases, the road users always have a duty towards each other. However, determining the duty of care can be quite complicated since no laws spell out how a person should act. Before you prove that another person is liable for your accident and injuries, you must prove that the defendant owed you the duty of care.

  1. The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care

Showing that a defendant owed you a duty of care is not enough to hold them liable for the accident. A person breaches their duty of care towards you by acting in a manner that puts you in the risk of injuries. Determining whether or not a duty of care was breached is not too difficult. When a driver operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or over speeds, they are considered breaching their duty. The evidence required to show a breach of duty requires some investigation and guidance from a personal injury attorney is important in this situation.

  1. Causation

After establishing that a defendant owed you a duty of care and breached this duty, it should be clear that the breach of duty caused your injuries. The defendant's actions do not need to be the only cause of your injuries. As long as their negligence is a direct cause of your injuries, they could be held liable for the accident.

  1. Damages

When proving that a person is liable for a tour bus accident in which you are involved, you should indicate the damages you suffer from the accident. The damages could either be financial or emotional. Some of the evidence you can use to prove damages in a personal injury claim are your medical records. This document indicates your injuries from the accident and the amount you spent in treating the injuries. Also, you can present other documents to indicate the lost wages and lost future earnings.

Some of the parties that could be held liable for a tour bus accident include:

The Bus Driver

Most tour bus accidents result from driver negligence. There are several ways a bus driver acts in disregard for others' safety and causes a collision. When a driver is distracted, drives while intoxicated, or fails to follow the traffic rules. They could get into a collision. If you can prove the relationship between the driver's conduct and the bus accident, they will be held liable for your injuries.

The Bus Owner

The bus owner and tour company are responsible for maintaining the vehicles in the right condition. This is by servicing and repairing broken parts to ensure the vehicle is in proper condition to operate. Also, they are required to hire qualified and well-trained drivers who can carefully operate the vehicle. If a tour bus gets into a catastrophic accident due to poor vehicle condition, the bus company could be held liable for your injuries.

Pedestrians and Drivers of Other Vehicles

Even though the tour bus driver has a responsibility to ensure they do not cause injuries on others, pedestrians, and drivers of other vehicles share the same responsibility. Buses are large vehicles and other drivers are required to keep the right distance with the bus. Also, other drivers who operate while under drug influence can cause a collision with the bus. In this case, other road users can be held liable for the injuries that result from the accident. 

Manufacturers of Bus Parts

Malfunction of bus parts could result in a serious accident. Parts such as tires, seatbelts, steering wheel, or brakes could cause difficulties in the vehicle, causing it to crash. By manufacturing and dispatching of faulty vehicle parts, the manufacturers breach their duty of care towards you. When bus parts fail and result in your accident, the bus part manufacturers will be held liable for your injuries.

Vehicle Retailer

A vehicle distributor or retailer of the bus parts can be held responsible for a bus accident. This could be the case if the faulty parts were sod from their facility. Sometimes products expire on the shelves, but in an attempt to avoid loss, the retailers still sell them. In this case, they can be among liable parties in your lawsuit.

Compensation Available in a Bus Accident Lawsuit

No amount of money can compensate you enough for the injuries you suffered after a tour bus collision. However, by filing a personal injury lawsuit, you could receive compensatory benefits to lessen your financial loss. Benefits from a bus accident lawsuit may include:

  1. Medical Bills

Tour bus accidents are often catastrophic, and the injuries that result from such a collision are fatal. If you get injured in such an accident, you should call emergency responders to check on you and other injured parties. Your medical bills will start to accumulate as soon as you are ferried to the hospital. On reaching the hospital, ensure you point out all your injuries regardless of their intensity. Also, ensure the medical records are properly stored for use in your claim.

Most fault parties do not accept liability for an accident immediately. Therefore, you may be required to cover your medical bills. The best way you can cover your medical expenses is by use of a medical cover. By using this method, your medical provider cannot charge you more than your policy provides. If you do not have a medical cover, California law allows you to get a discount for your medical expenses. Also, you can decide to consult a doctor who operates on a lien basis. These professionals are often paid with the proceeds of the claim. It is crucial to understand that if your medical bills exceed your proceeds, you will have to cover your pocket balance.

If you have a pre-existing injury, it could be difficult to recover damages for an accident. However, if the accident made the injuries worse, you are still entitled to recover. 

  1. Lost Income

In California, lost wages or income is all the amounts you would have earned if you hadn't suffered injuries. Lost wages could be regular pay, overtime pay, income from self-employment, and other benefits from your job. California law allows you to seek compensation for the income you won't be able to earn due to the injuries.

When filing a claim to recover lost income, the law requires you to prove your lost earnings. You can prove lost wages through:

  • A lost wages letter. If you have a regular job, you can request a lost wages letter from your employer. This letter will indicate your job title, the number of hours you work normally, the amount of payment you receive each hour, and the amount of time you missed.
  • Pay Stubs and Tax Returns. Sometimes, getting an employer to write a lost wage letter is difficult. Therefore, you can use your past pay stubs and tax returns to prove the amount of income you lost. If you haven't kept the records, your injury attorney can help you obtain them during the discovery process.
  • Self-employment income. If you are self-employed, you need to show the amount you would have earned during the period you were unable to work. This can be achieved by producing your tax return statements from prior years and billing statements from the months before the injury.
  1. Future Lost Earning Capacity

California law allows you to recover compensation for past and future earnings. Lost earning capacity is the loss of your ability to earn money in the future after a car accident. Unlike lost wages, lost future earning capacity is difficult to prove since the loss has not already occurred. Most tour bus accidents are catastrophic, and the injuries you are likely to suffer are severe. These injuries take a long time to heal and may leave you unable to return to your job. However, it is crucial to understand that you do not need to have suffered a permanent injury to receive these benefits.

The lost earnings for which you receive compensation could be in the form of:

  • Overtime pay
  • Monthly salary
  • Commissions
  • Income from self-employment
  • Vacation, personal and sick days

There is no exact method for calculating future lost earnings. However, the jury may consider the following when deciding n compensation:

  • When you are expected to return to your regular job
  • Your age
  • Your life expectancy
  • The duration your incapacitation 
  • Your health before the accident or injuries
  • The income you earned in the past.
  • Your long time employment goals
  1. Pain and Suffering

Injuries resulting from catastrophic bus accidents are often fatal. These injuries may cause immense pain and psychological suffering. Even though there is no exact way of calculating pain and suffering, you can still seek compensation. The jury determines the amount of compensation you get based on the evidence you present.

  1. Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a loss of love and companionship and comfort provided by a deceased loved one. If your loved succumbs to death due to a tour bus accident, you can recover compensation for the lost consortium. However, only a spouse can claim compensation for the lost consortium. Before you receive this type of compensation after a tour bus accident, you must prove the following things:

  • A valid lawful marriage certificate
  • Your loved one suffered a wrongful injury or death
  • You suffered the loss of consortium 
  • The injury caused the loss of consortium on the spouse

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you or your loved one gets injured in a tour bus accident, you may be left with expensive medical bills, lost wages, and immense pain and suffering. Fortunately, by filing a personal injury lawsuit against parties liable for the accident, you can recover compensation. If the bus accident was fatal and you lose a loved one, you may be left dealing with funeral and burial expenses. However, a wrongful death claim allows a family to seek compensation for their loss. Navigating a compensation claim after a bus accident could be complicated. This is because of the numerous individuals who may be involved in a crash. Therefore, seeking guidance from the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm would go a long way. We serve clients throughout San Diego, CA, to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us at 619-478-4059 today.