Operators of buses loaded with people on the way to work or home, sightseers, travelers, and students have legal and contractual obligations to deliver passengers to their destinations unharmed in Stuart and all around Florida; however, bus accidents do happen.
If you or a loved one is involved in a bus accident, you should take immediate steps to ascertain how you can be compensated for injuries and property damage, and to develop sufficient evidence to prove your claim. This can be done with the assistance of a Stuart bus accident attorney.
You should begin doing all of this while memories are still fresh by meeting with a Stuart personal injury attorney who is experienced in this specific area of law.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Three main reasons that buses are involved in collisions are vehicle safety, driver error, and road conditions.
Buses are operated by municipalities, school districts, travel companies, and private coach entities, and each operator must ensure that the vehicle’s safety equipment and mechanical systems are operating properly and that the drivers are competent and reliable.
Routine safety inspections reveal the condition of the braking system, tires, steering mechanisms, fuel delivery, electrical system, and the overall condition and reliability of the bus.
Drivers must be well trained in both the operation of the bus and, in school buses, the proper behavior of its passengers. They are evaluated by their level of experience, physical condition, and their mental and emotional states.
Road conditions are not the responsibility of the bus line, but the bus company is ultimately responsible for drivers speeding, traveling on unsafe roads or in severe weather. A knowledgeable bus accident lawyer in Stuart can educate an individual on common causes of bus accidents.
The size and weight of buses work to advantage in front end and rear end collisions, but because of their high center of gravity they can be turned over by a forceful impact to the side. Injuries range from minor to serious, and death can result.
Buses, generally, are not equipped with safety belts. The interior design of a bus uses a concept called compartmentalization, which provides protection to occupants by closely spacing strong seats with energy-absorbing seat backs.
Federal law requires small school buses, up to 10,000 pounds, to be equipped with lap or lap and shoulder belts, and Florida is one of six states requiring seat belts in new school buses.
To determine who is at fault, Florida adheres to the comparative negligence standard. In some instances, the fault of the accident lies with both parties. An individual can best understand the negligence law by contacting a Stuart bus accident lawyer.
This law reduces the value of damages claimed by the percent of fault assessed. To prove negligence, all four elements of the law must be proven by the party making the claim. These elements are:
- Duty of care: The legal obligation not to cause harm to another.
- Breach: Failing to exercise care toward another
- Causation: The breach caused the accident to happen
- Damages: Actual injury or damage must have occurred
Negligence has certain defenses. If a defendant, for example, can prove a duty of care was not owed, the case will not go forward.
Importance of a Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or a family member has been in a bus accident, it is in your best interest to consult with a Stuart bus accident lawyer while the incident is fresh in your memory. The lawyer can assess the strength of your case and advise you on your legal options.
To determine the percentage of the defendant’s fault, an attorney can conduct an independent investigation into the safety condition of the bus, the driver’s competency, and subpoena witnesses.
Your attorney will aggressively represent your interests and prepare your case. Many personal injury cases are settled between the parties instead of taking the case to court, which can save time and money. Your Stuart bus injury lawyer will negotiate with the insurance carrier to achieve an award that is fair and just.