Bus accidents can be more legally complex than other vehicle crashes because they carry more passengers and are much heavier. Because buses are owned and operated by companies, cities, school districts, and individuals, the thoroughness of a vehicle’s mechanical and electrical repair records may vary.
With these factors in mind, if you are involved in such a crash, you should quickly contact a West Palm Beach bus accident lawyer who is well-versed in this type of collision. A skilled West Palm Beach injury lawyer can work hard to protect your rights during your case and obtain proper compensation.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Causes can include faulty braking and turning functions, excessive speed, lack of timely and proper maintenance, inclusion and condition of safety devices, and the operator’s experience level, physical condition, and mental competency at the time of the wreck.
West Palm Beach bus accident attorneys often also see contributing factors that include the weather, time of day, type and condition of the road, traffic density, who is at fault and why, and extenuating circumstances.
Buses, because of their size and weight, can withstand an impact better than a car, but the car would have more damage than if it had struck another car. However, those aboard the bus, particularly school children, can still sustain minor to serious injuries and perhaps die depending upon the severity and speed of the crash.
Because buses have high centers of gravity, side impacts are particularly dangerous because they can cause roll-overs.
Florida School Bus Seatbelt Law
Florida is one of only six states that require seat belts in school buses. Florida law requires that newly built school buses transporting pre-kindergarten through high school seniors must have “safety belts or other restraint systems” meeting federal standards for each person aboard. Buses purchased before that date are exempt from that law.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended in 2015 that a three-point harness be used in school buses instead of just lap belts for the best protection in a crash. Buses used for other than school purposes, such as cross-country liners, city, tour and sightseeing buses, are not included in this law.
In determining fault in an accident, Florida uses the doctrine of comparative negligence. A bus accident lawyer in West Palm Beach can best help explain negligence distinctions. The doctrine limits the amount of damages to the percentage of fault.
For example, if a bus driver and a truck driver each make a mistake that equally contributed to the cause of their collision, each of them could only claim 50 percent of their damages.
To prove negligence the injured party or their West Palm Beach bus accident lawyer must prove:
- Duty of care. Because each motorist was using the roadways, they shared a reasonable duty not to cause harm to another person using the roads
- That duty was breached by one or both parties
- The act of the breach caused the collision
- The party should have known the breach would cause the collision
- The party did, in fact, sustain injury or damage
How a West Palm Beach Bus Accident Attorney Can Help
Travelers, and parents and legal guardians of school children, who were in a bus accident should act in their best interest and contact a West Palm Beach bus accident attorney who is experienced at litigating these cases. Skilled attorneys can explain your rights under the law and determine the strength of your case.
Experienced lawyers can investigate the owner and operator to discover if any maintenance or safety issues were lacking or ill performed, if the driver was qualified and mentally and physically able to control the vehicle, and other issues that may develop. Your West Palm Beach bus accident lawyer will aggressively pursue your case and negotiate the best possible result for your injuries and damages.