Bus Accident Lawyer & School Bus Accident Attorney
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Buses and taxis are called “common carriers.” You are paying them to provide transportation, and they are held to a high standard of safety and care. Bus drivers should, therefore, have appropriate training to prepare them for the challenges they may encounter on the roadway. School bus drivers should also have the training to protect students from harm both on the bus and around the bus after they exit.
Responsibly of Bus Drivers
Being entrusted with our most precious assets does not make a school bus driver exempt from committing reckless errors while driving. Consider what happened outside of Kansas City in August 2013. Eighteen 6th graders got hurt when the bus they were riding overturned on a highway exit ramp. Excessive speed is said to be the cause of that accident, and the driver should have known to slow down before attempting to maneuver onto the curving ramp. Fortunately, no other vehicles were involved, and there were no fatalities, but many of the students suffered a severe injury, including spinal cord injuries and head traumas.
In Missouri, to become a school bus driver, you will need to have a special endorsement added to your CDL license. To get that, you must complete at least eight hours of a specialized school bus driving instruction. Additionally, you will be required to pass both a written and practical exam. Officials will then check your driving record before issuing you your special license. Once you apply for employment, the school district will most likely ask for fingerprints to conduct a background check.
Since most school buses are owned and operated by public schools, the drivers may be entitled to government immunity if they are involved in an accident. The government will sometimes lift immunity in car accident cases, but will still require that the plaintiff prove a higher level of fault in the drivers’ actions. Since laws vary from state to state, it is vital to seek the advice of an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer if you have been involved in a bus accident in Missouri.
Out in Lafayette County, the operator of a small pickup truck successfully received compensation after an accident with a school bus caused disc herniation in his spine. He was traveling along a highway when the bus suddenly entered directly in his path from a side street. Evidence shows that the driver did not do a thorough check of traffic flow before proceeding into the intersection. A jury agreed and awarded the plaintiff $300,000. They assigned only 10% of the blame to the victim.
Causes of Bus Accidents
One of the complications that can be encountered with a MetroBus, MetroLink, or school bus accident is the issue of liability. Sometimes it is a private bus or taxi company that is liable, but other times liability rests with a school district or state or local government. Bringing a personal injury case against a government entity is far different than a typical motor vehicle accident case against an insurance company.
That is when the experience becomes even more critical. As an experienced lawyer, Christopher Hoffmann knows how to handle lawsuits against bus companies, taxicabs, school districts, and state and local governments. He is fully prepared to seek maximum compensation for injuries suffered in bus or taxicab accidents involving:
- Reckless driving
- Drunk driving
- Collisions between 18 wheeler trucks and buses, taxicabs or light rail
- Pedestrians being hit or run over by a bus or taxicabs
- Bus rollover accidents
- Tire blowouts or inadequate vehicle maintenance
When a bus has to make a right turn, the driver is forced to swing the front part to the left to steer clear of any obstacles. Buses are often seen making wide right turns in highly populated streets.
When a bus attempts a wide right turn, there is always a chance of a vehicle to the left becoming sandwiched between the bus and curb. Due to the considerable size and weight of a bus, such bus accidents are always dangerous and sometimes fatal as well.
Liability in Wide Right Turn Bus Accidents
Bus drivers undergo continued and intense training to stay up-to-date with their licenses. Their training and experience provide them with the skill to calculate the right distance required to make a safe wide right turn. In case a driver fails to calculate the distance correctly and causes an accident, the driver may be held liable for it.
Every bus driver must watch out for any passenger vehicles, pedestrians, or others they share the road with. A bus driver should signal the intent to turn well in advance before making the turn and wait for the right opportunity before initiating the turn. Being aware of the traffic laws and rules can go a long way in preventing all types of accidents.
Serious Injuries Resulting From Bus Accidents
Most wide right turn accidents occur at low speeds. The chances of a fatality are comparatively lower compared to other accident scenarios involving buses and trucks. However, victims often suffer severe injuries in such accidents. Some commonly reported injuries include:
- broken bones
- internal bleeding
- loss of limbs
- severe lacerations
- spinal cord injuries
- trauma to the head and brain
St. Louis Bus Accident Lawyer
Any lawsuit filed that includes government employees would be handled best by an experienced attorney. If you or your child have been hurt in a bus accident the best way to receive full compensation for your injuries is to retain a qualified bus accident attorney.
The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. has been helping those involved in car accidents in Missouri and Illinois for over 20 years. If you have been involved in an accident call our law firm at (314) 361-4242 or contact us online to schedule a free and private consultation with a qualified St. Louis auto accident attorney.
Tips for Driving Safely Around School Buses
In general, the bigger a vehicle is, the more dangerous it is. This effect is due to both its increased weight and the difficulty involved in driving it. The most common large vehicle that drives the roads of St. Louis is buses. Because there are so many of them, it is worth your time to understand how to share the road with them safely. If you do not, you could be headed for an accident.Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Stay Out of Blind Spots – One of the most common types of accidents involving buses is when a car is in their blind spot. Buses frequently need to change lanes to make their stops, so driving in their blind spot is an especially unsafe practice. When driving near buses, make sure you are not right next to them. Instead, try to get ahead or far behind.
- Obey the School Zone Speed Limit – The speed limit is there for a reason: to keep kids safe. When you’re driving around a school bus, it’s important to obey the school zone speed limit. This is especially important when school is in session and children are present. Not only will it help keep the kids safe, but it’ll also help you avoid a costly ticket.
- Pass Correctly – Driving behind a bus can be very annoying. They often drive slowly and are constantly stopping, which delays you and may cause frustration. At some point, you will likely decide to pass them. When you do, you should follow safe practices. First, make sure you change lanes far behind the bus. You don’t want to get too close and end up rear-ending them at an unexpected stop. Next, don’t linger in their blind spot. Instead, get ahead of them as quickly as possible while staying safe and under the speed limit.
- Increase Your Following Distance – Heavier vehicles have slower stopping times and thus require a more significant following distance. Additionally, buses stop more than any other vehicle on the road. If you’re tailgating a bus, you are at considerable risk of rear-ending them. To remedy this situation, try to stay at least thirty feet behind them.
- Expect Wide Turns – Due to their size, buses cannot make tight turns like you can in a typical car. Instead, they require wide turns. What this means is that they will often take up two full lanes during turns. When you get near an intersection, watch out for turn signals and other clues that the bus might be turning. When they start to turn, slow down and let them finish the turn before making a move.
- Be patient – No one likes being stuck in traffic, especially when you’re running late. But when you see a school bus stopped on the side of the road, it’s important to be patient and wait for it to finish loading or unloading students. If you try to squeeze by the bus, you could end up hitting a child crossing the street. And even if you don’t hit anyone, you could get a ticket from a police officer who saw your unsafe driving.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings – Children can be unpredictable. One moment they’re running to catch the school bus, and the next, they’re darting out into traffic without looking both ways. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Pay attention to the bus driver and the children as they board and exit the bus. If you see a child running toward the street, be prepared to stop. In addition, avoid distractions like cell phones and music players. This will help you stay focused.
Because buses are almost always owned by either the government or a large corporation, suing for injury is usually a very complicated process. If you ever get into this situation, it is best to speak with an experienced lawyer.
When it comes to driving around buses, the safest things you can do are similar to driving around any vehicle: Be patient and defensive. Though bus drivers do it professionally, a vehicle that large is not easy to maneuver. They are going to drive slower, take wide turns, and generally be a more dangerous vehicle to be around.
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