Des Moines Bus Accident Attorneys
Public transportation is an important service for our city, one that many Des Moines residents value. Unfortunately, sometimes public or private bus services cause crashes with serious consequences. If you’ve been injured a bus accident and it wasn’t your fault, you have the right to demand compensation for the costs you incurred.
If you want to pursue financial compensation from the at-fault party, contact LaMarca Law Group, P.C.. We can provide legal representation and fight to get you the money you deserve. We know the struggle you’re facing because of your injuries. When you hire us, we’ll use our resources, experience, and knowledge to get you the financial award you need to recover.
Whether you use the bus as an efficient and cost-effective option to get to work or the grocery store, or you trust school buses to transport your children to school, you should be able to ride safely. If you don’t take the bus, you should be able to trust that you can drive next to one without risking a crash.
Unfortunately, sometimes drivers make mistakes, or mechanical failure causes the bus to veer into traffic. When that happens, you can hold the responsible person or business accountable for their careless actions.
Call LaMarca Law Group, P.C. at (515) 225-2600 to speak with one of our Des Moines bus accident attorneys and find out how we can help you recover the money you’re owed.
How Common Are Bus Accidents?
Buses are typically a safe form of transportation. Bus drivers must carry a commercial driver’s license that requires extensive training. Unless their employer was negligent when they hired them, they have the qualifications to operate a large vehicle like a bus and know what to do if there’s an emergency.
Federal and Iowa state regulations require anyone who operates a bus to understand safety procedures that keep occupants, drivers in other vehicles, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians out of harm’s way.
Purposeful bus design also makes them safer than passenger vehicles in most situations. Features that protect occupant safety include:
- Size: Buses are big, so people in other cars and walking across the street can see them better than cars or motorcycles.
- Lights and markings: Buses are designed to be visible in different weather conditions thanks to easy-to-see markings and lights.
- Height and weight: Buses are high off the ground and heavy, reducing the chance of a rollover. They can’t decelerate quickly when they collide with another vehicle or object, which reduces the g-forces felt by occupants.
- Compartmentalization: Most buses don’t have seatbelts because of protective compartmentalization. Most bus seats incorporate durable, protective foam on both their front and back to hold passengers in place in the event of a crash.
- Speed: Most bus accidents occur at low speeds because they tend to travel on roads with low speed limits. Many bus routes avoid the highway, reducing the chance of crashes above 50 mph. Intercity buses and charter buses are the exceptions.
Bus Accidents Have the Potential to Be Catastrophic
Despite the safety features that protect bus riders, some of the same things lead to devastating injuries and property damage when they do crash.
- Size and weight: When a bus collides with another vehicle or pedestrian, the injuries are more severe, and they’re more likely to cause fatalities. Buses are much larger and heavier than most passenger vehicles, so the impact causes significant damage.
- Lack of seatbelts and structural reinforcement: Most buses don’t have seatbelts. If there’s a rollover crash, occupants are at risk of being thrown out of the bus or against the bus walls. Bus roofs aren’t reinforced like car roofs, so they can crumple and cause crush injuries.
- Speed: When a bus impacts a moving vehicle, its occupants face lower g-force than usual. But when a bus collides with a stationary object, the g-forces are potentially very high leading to serious and fatal injuries to the occupants.
Common Injuries Victims of Bus Accidents Sustain
Since bus accidents are so damaging, they can cause many types of. Whether you’re a passenger on the bus, in another vehicle, on a bicycle or motorcycle, or a pedestrian, you could suffer from the following:
- Whiplash: The momentum of a crash can cause the head to quickly move forward then backward, resulting in an injury to the neck.
- Spinal cord injuries: The initial impact of a bus accident and subsequent impacts with the window or another object can damage the spinal cord. Some injuries can be repaired by surgery or physical therapy, but some result in permanent disability and paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injury: Any head impact can cause a traumatic brain injury. TBIs disrupt the brain’s normal function, resulting in headaches, vision loss, impaired motor skills, and more.
- Broken bones: Broken long bones require surgery and extensive physical therapy. Compound and other severe fractures cause bleeding and can puncture internal organs.
- Internal bleeding: When a damaged organ bleeds internally, it can cause a life-threatening problem for the victim. A ruptured organ can lead to sepsis and even death.
- PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder causes severe stress, fear, anxiety, and depression.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
Some common causes of bus accidents include:
Bus company negligence
Federal and state regulations require bus companies to promptly perform regular maintenance and repair damage to ensure that their buses are safe to operate. If they fail to repair a mechanical problem or replace a damaged part, they could be liable for any collision they cause.
Sometimes, bus companies fail to take due care when they hire their drivers. If they hire someone and fail to train them properly or hire someone who lacks a proper commercial driver’s license, they could be liable for a crash.
Bus driver negligence
When bus drivers behave irresponsibly and fail to operate their bus safely, they can be held liable for their negligence. Examples of negligence include:
- Texting while driving
- Failing to obey traffic laws
- Driving recklessly
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Another party’s negligence
If the driver of another vehicle fails to pay attention to the road or drives recklessly and causes a crash, they could become liable for injuries or fatalities.
It’s possible that more than one party contributed to the accident. If there was a road defect, such as a pothole, and the bus driver failed to adjust their driving for the hazardous condition, both the driver and entity responsible for maintaining the roadway could be at fault.
How the Common Carrier Law Could Affect Your Case
The federal law recognizes buses as a common carrier, meaning a vehicle that transports people who pay a fare. Common carriers must follow stricter rules when it comes to the safety of the passengers.
It isn’t just the bus driver’s duty to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. They also have to know what to do if there’s an emergency and adjust their driving for the road conditions.
If the person driving the bus does anything that could cause a crash, like texting behind the wheel, it can constitute gross negligence. Any behavior that could distract them from their duties or put their passengers at risk of injury is a breach of the requirements for common carrier drivers.
Common carrier laws don’t protect pedestrians, other drivers, or motorcyclists. It only protects the passengers on the bus. Talk to one of our experienced Iowa lawyers at LaMarca Law Group, P.C. to find out if common carrier law applies to your crash.
Recovering Compensation After a Bus Accident
If you were injured in a bus crash and it was someone else’s fault, there are three categories of financial damages you can seek in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Economic damages are calculable expenses resulting from the accident and injury. They include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Additional expenses
Non-economic damages are losses that aren’t as easy to quantify. They don’t come with an invoice, billing statement, or receipt. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
When your bus accident injury is caused by gross negligence, a jury might award punitive damages. It doesn’t compensate injured victims for their losses but instead punishes the at-fault party.
What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Bus Accident?
- Call 911 and wait for law enforcement to arrive at the scene. They will perform an investigation and write a crash report.
- Write down the names and phone numbers of witnesses to the accident, the bus driver, and other occupants on the bus.
- Take photos of the crash site and damage to all vehicles involved.
- Go to the doctor to treat your injuries. Follow their orders and continue with medical care until you recover or get released.
- Hire a Des Moines bus accident attorney to help you with your case.
Bus Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Des Moines residents and tourists use buses daily to get to their destinations. They are relatively safe and convenient for getting around the busy city. However, there are risks you face whenever you put your safety in the hands of a bus driver. You could suffer severe injuries or even death if a negligent party causes an accident.
At LaMarca Law Group, P.C., we know the uncertainty you might face following a bus crash. We want to put your mind at ease and help you prepare for what’s to come. We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions we receive so you know how to handle the legal aspects of your case.
Who can I hold liable after a bus accident?
Determining liability after a bus accident can be tricky. Many accidents involve two or more vehicles and other drivers, resulting in multiple people potentially to blame. Additionally, others not involved in the crash could be liable, such as the bus company.
Liability could fall on any of the following parties:
- Bus driver – Negligent actions commonly lead to accidents. If the bus driver was doing anything that contributed to the crash, they could be held accountable for the injuries you sustained.
- Manufacturer – The manufacturing company that constructs buses and their many mechanical components must meet design and safety standards. If there’s a defect or malfunctioning system, they could be at fault for any accident that occurs.
- Bus company – Employers must hire qualified drivers and provide adequate training. Negligent hiring practices could put an inexperienced driver on the road whose carelessness puts their passengers at risk of harm.
- Maintenance companies – The companies responsible for maintaining and repairing buses should check for any issues and fix them promptly. If they fail to notice a defective part or don’t follow an adequate maintenance schedule, it could leave the bus in poor condition.
- Another driver – It’s possible that someone else involved in the accident was at fault. If a motorist in another vehicle was speeding, texting and driving, or disobeying traffic signs, they could be financially responsible for your expenses.
Can I file a claim if I was the passenger in another vehicle?
Yes. If you were involved in an accident with a bus but were the passenger of another vehicle, you might be entitled to compensation from an insurance claim. You would have to establish liability on the part of the bus driver or the driver of the car you were in at the time of the accident. Claims against public transportation drivers and private citizens differ significantly. There are different deadlines for filing lawsuits and different procedures you must follow. It would be in your best interest to allow us to handle this part of the case to ensure nothing falls through the cracks so you don’t lose your right to compensation.
I lost a loved one in a bus accident. Can I sue the driver?
You might be entitled to compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit if the bus driver or another party was at fault for your loved one’s death. Only specific individuals are allowed to pursue this type of case in Iowa. They are:
- The administrator of the deceased’s estate
- Surviving spouse and minor children
- Adult children
We are familiar with cases like this and can guide you through each step of the process so you receive the money you’re owed for the loss of your family member.
At LaMarca Law Group, P.C., we offer free consultations to prospective clients. If you were the victim of a bus accident and have questions about what to do next, we can talk with you in a no-risk, no-pressure consultation. We’ll review the information you provide and determine if you may be able to seek compensation.
We know that you need time and space to recover from your bus crash. We’ll handle everything to do with your claim on your behalf so that you can focus on healing and moving forward.
To find out more about our legal services and how we can help you recover the compensation you’re owed, call us at (515) 225-2600 to speak with one of our Des Moines bus accident attorneys.