In a bus accident, there are often many victims. Riders on the bus often have a potential case against the at-fault driver for injuries, and other people outside of the bus – such as bikers, pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles – might also have a case.
If you were injured in a bus accident, it is important to work with an injury lawyer who can fight insurance companies and bus companies and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Often, insurance companies undercut victims’ estimates and offer them only minimal coverage for their injuries. This is unacceptable, and our attorneys can fight for higher damages.
For a free evaluation of your case, contact Legal Care New Jersey’s bus accident attorneys by calling (732) 838-9769.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ
Bus accidents can happen for many different reasons. Often, driver error is involved, but some accidents can be caused by other mistakes and issues, such as problems with the vehicle. Depending on how the accident happened, liability could fall on various parties, but our bus accident attorneys can help you determine which parties are at fault in your particular case.
Most accidents involve speed as at least a contributing cause. When bus drivers speed, the bus becomes much harder to stop and steer, especially if there is an emergency or someone jumps out in front of the bus. In cases where the bus was going the speed limit, the driver’s inability to stop on time might not be their fault – that is just the nature of big, heavy buses. However, if the driver was going over the speed limit, then the bus driver and bus company should share at least some liability for the crash.
Stopping, Starting, and Turning Without Signaling
Drivers should not be expected to know a bus driver’s route, and drivers need to signal and stop carefully to avoid getting hit by other drivers when pulling over to pick up passengers. Suddenly swerving toward the curb or suddenly swerving back into traffic are both incredibly dangerous, especially if traffic is moving at full speed.
Bus drivers also need to signal their turns. Often, they have to slow down more than other vehicles, so drivers around them need notice of all turns and stops.
If a bus accident happens because the bus has problems with its brakes, tires, or even lights, then the accident could be the bus company’s fault. Bus companies are usually responsible for maintenance and vehicle upkeep rather than the individual driver of the bus. This means that the bus company is often liable for any breakdowns that result in a crash because the company failed to keep the bus in good working order. If the bus company relied on the mechanic’s skills and expertise, it is possible that fault could fall to them instead of the bus company – but often, these mechanics work for the bus companies.
Sometimes accidents are caused by defective auto parts or tires. In these cases, the accident might not be the bus company’s or the mechanic’s fault but rather the auto part manufacturer’s fault.
While bus drivers are usually professionals who would not drink on the job, it is not always a guarantee. Even so, a bus could be hit by a drunk driver, potentially injuring passengers and bus drivers. If this happens, the drunk driver would be liable for the injuries in nearly every case.
Bus drivers often work long hours and can get tired on the job, potentially making them as dangerous as drunk drivers. Federal regulations require bus drivers to take breaks and limit driving hours to prevent fatigue and avoidable accidents. Failing to do so can put a bus driver or a bus company at fault for a resulting crash.
Other Traffic Violations
Bus drivers and other drivers might also cause crashes by running red lights, failing to yield, tailgating, or committing another violation. These violations can put whichever driver committed the traffic violation at fault for the resulting accident.
Who to Sue for Bus Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ
As mentioned, liability can shift depending on who caused the accident. In some cases, the bus driver might be at fault, while in others, another driver is the one to blame. As a passenger, you might also be able to sue both drivers, and the courts can figure out partial liability for each driver if they both contributed to the crash.
In many cases, bus companies can also be sued. If the bus driver caused a crash while working within the scope of their duties as a bus company employee, then the bus company could be vicariously liable for the driver’s mistakes. This is true whether the bus company was a private bus company or a public company like NJ Transit. School district bus services can also be sued. However, there might be more restrictions and limitations in lawsuits against public services.
Damages for Bus Accident Victims in Elizabeth, NJ
A lawsuit is not always available for injury victims. Under NJ law, riders and passengers are usually covered by the driver of their vehicle’s no-fault insurance, and they are only entitled to medical bills and lost wages covered by that policy. Bus companies often have very high-value insurance policies and can often cover multiple victims’ injuries without the need to take your case to court.
However, no-fault insurance does not cover pain and suffering. To access these damages, you usually need to file a third-party insurance claim against the driver’s liability insurance or sue them in court. Moreover, pain and suffering and other non-economic damages like emotional distress are not available unless your injuries meet NJ’s “verbal threshold” (a.k.a., “serious injury threshold”). Under this rule, permanent injuries, loss of a fetus, a dislocated fracture, and death usually allow pain and suffering damages. Lesser injuries might not be entitled to full compensation.
Call Our Elizabeth, NJ Bus Accident Attorneys Today
For a free review of your potential bus accident case, call Legal Care New Jersey’s bus accident attorneys at (732) 838-9769.