Buses are a critical component of the transportation infrastructure. The National Safety Council (NSC) even notes buses are much safer than having kids walk to and from school. However, in 2020 the NSC noted there were 54 school bus related deaths, and WSDOT in 2022 noted 366 accidents involving public buses on city streets.
The term “bus” covers public and private vehicles, including:
- Urban and rural transportation
- Private bus lines
- School buses
- Airport and hotel shuttles
- Tour buses
In Washington State, buses are not required to have seatbelts or airbags. The high profile of buses makes them more prone to tipping over in an accident, which could result in significant injuries or death. If you or a loved one have been injured in a bus accident in Washington State, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your legal options for recovering damages from those responsible.
What are the leading causes of bus accidents?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes running a red light or stop sign is the number one cause of bus accidents. Not surprisingly, bus accidents are also caused by the same things that can cause car accidents, including:
- Driver distraction and fatigue
- Operating under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Mechanical failures
- Poor road conditions
- Improper/inadequate operator training
What are the most common injuries suffered in bus accidents?
Depending on the severity, bus accidents can result in the following:
- Bruises and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Neck and head injuries (whiplash)
- Traumatic brain injury
How is fault determined in bus accidents in Washington State?
Washington State uses “comparative negligence,” to determine how much each party was responsible for the bus accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to determine who is liable for the bus accident and help you determine available damages.
Can the Washington at-fault bus driver be held liable for passenger injuries?
Bus drivers are subject to Washington State’s common carrier law and are held to a higher standard of care when operating their vehicles. If they are found to have been negligent, it may be possible to hold the driver responsible for passenger injuries suffered in an accident.
Who can I sue if I am injured in a bus accident?
If you are injured in a bus accident, it may be possible to pursue damages against other parties, including:
- The bus driver
- The bus manufacturer
- The bus company owner
- The bus maintenance company
- The local government responsible for operating the bus system
- Third-party drivers
The first step is to speak with an experienced personal attorney to discuss injuries suffered by you or your loved ones. If you are injured in a bus accident where the bus system is owned by a government entity, such as a city bus or school bus, Washington State law requires you to file a damage claim with the city.
What are the most important steps to take after being involved in a Washington State bus accident?
If your injuries are severe, get medical attention immediately. Afterward, it is important you take the following steps:
- If your injuries are minor, stay at the scene to document you were on the bus involved in the accident.
- Write down a detailed description of how you were injured, including what happened before and after you were injured.
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report (or superintendent’s “incident report” if a school bus accident).
- Ask for additional information to fully document your case, including your full medical records related to the injury, any input from other witnesses, and photos of the site and any resulting damage.
- Keep all documents sent to/from everyone involved in the case.
- Talk with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case and possible compensation for your injuries.
How long do I have to sue after being injured in a bus accident in Washington State?
In Washington State, you have three years to sue after being injured in a bus accident.
What government agencies protect bus passengers in Washington State?
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) develop regulations for protecting bus passengers in Washington State.
How can PCVA help if you are injured in a bus accident in Washington State?
PCVA’s experienced attorneys can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and damages from those responsible for the bus accident. If you would like to speak with a PCVA lawyer, complete our online form or call us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850.
How much does PCVA charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.