Philadelphia Bus Accident Lawyer
Bus travel represents a relatively safe mode of ground transportation, yet preventable bus accidents still happen.
If a Philadelphia bus crash has injured you or a loved one, then you may have the right to take legal action seeking financial compensation for your injuries. You should not have to shoulder the physical, emotional, and financial pain of a severe injury or tragic fatality on your own if someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions caused that harm. Trust a skilled Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to fight for your right to receive substantial compensation instead.
The experienced bus accident lawyers at The Levin Firm understand the difficulties victims and their families face in the wake of suffering severe injuries or the loss of loved ones in a bus accident. Contact us to share the details of your bus accident and learn about how we may help.
Negligence Leads to Preventable Philadelphia Bus Accident Injuries
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that intercity buses account for about 13 percent of fatal bus crashes throughout the United States every year. Likewise, fatal school bus crashes account for approximately 40 percent, and transit buses total 35 percent of all fatal bus crashes in the nation annually. Additionally, well over 20,000 people suffer injuries in bus crashes each year. Unfortunately, some of those fatal and injury-causing bus crashes occur in Pennsylvania, right here in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Negligent behavior by bus drivers, bus owners, and third-parties causes the majority of preventable bus accidents. Some scenarios that can lead to severe, sometimes fatal bus accidents and injuries include:
Drunk/Drugged Driving Bus Accidents
Drunk driving impairs a bus driver’s ability to control the bus and to react to dangerous driving situations, especially when other drivers make quick stops or sudden turns. All bus drivers must hold a commercial drivers’ license (CDL), which means their legal blood alcohol is half of that for other drivers, and they must also submit to random drug and alcohol screenings. Bus drivers who make the tragic mistake of drinking and driving put others on the road and their own passengers at risk for injury and death.
Distracted Driving Bus Accidents
CDL holders must comply with federal laws regarding cell phone use while driving, so cell phone use is not as likely a distraction for bus drivers as you might think. Drivers cannot use a cell phone while operating a bus unless they use a hands-free device. Yet, bus drivers confront many other potential distractions that can lead to an accident, and of course other motorists may fall prey to distractions and cause an accident. Some examples of distractions that can affect bus drivers, besides smartphones, include misbehaving passengers, eating and drinking behind the wheel, concentrating on an event outside the bus, adjusting a seat or other vehicle features, and daydreaming.
Drowsy Driving Bus Accidents
Bus drivers who work long shifts or have other jobs put passengers and other motorists at risk if they drive while drowsy or fatigued. The FMCSA has devoted extensive resources to study the relationship between sleep and driving. In their research, they found that drivers who go without sleep for 18 hours have the same level of impairment as those who have a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is double the legal limit for bus drivers.
Improper Passing/Failure to Yield Bus Accidents
In some situations, bus passengers suffer injuries because another motorist causes an accident. Drivers in passenger vehicles often get impatient around slow-moving buses, so they pass them illegally or fail to yield when the bus has the right of way. This can lead to dangerous and deadly accidents and can also put passengers in danger as they exit and enter the bus, especially in situations where kids on a school bus must cross the road. Bus drivers can also pass improperly and fail to yield, but this type of accident happens more often as a result of third-party negligence.
Disobeying Traffic Control Devices
It’s not likely a bus driver will intentionally disobey a stop sign or traffic light. Yet, if a driver gets distracted and does not obey a traffic control device, a dangerous accident can occur. The size and weight of a bus contribute to a forceful impact in a collision with a smaller vehicle, making these kinds of accidents especially dangerous when a crash happens at high speeds. Drivers of passenger vehicles who fail to stop for a school bus can also cause accidents and injuries, including tragically hitting a child crossing the road.
Poor Bus Maintenance
Many entities own buses in our region, including the City of Philadelphia, school districts, and private charter bus companies. All bus owners have a responsibility to inspect their buses regularly, to perform regular maintenance on them, and to fix any known issues to ensure buses stay in roadworthy condition. Poorly maintained buses will eventually experience some type of mechanical or structural failure that can cause severe accidents. Preventable breakdowns like a tire blowout or brake failure can cause a bus driver to lose control and lead to a deadly collision.
Buses have weight limits above which a driver may struggle to maintain control, leading to an accident. Overcrowding typically does not present a problem on scheduled school bus or SEPTA routes. Yet, special events can sometimes lead to overcrowded SEPTA buses. Private charters, too, do not always comply with passenger and weight limit regulations. Overcrowded buses filled with unruly passengers are even more dangerous. If weight is not distributed evenly, the driver can also lose control of the bus.
Poor Hiring and Training Practices of Bus Drivers
The City of Philadelphia, school districts, and bus companies have an obligation to hire qualified bus drivers and adequately train them. Some drivers who have the required CDL do not necessarily have the experience to handle the responsibilities of a bus driver, a position that requires far more than just driving. Bus drivers are responsible for the safety of their passengers, and they must deal with continuous stopping and starting, often in busy traffic. Perfecting these tasks requires time, practice, and periodic retraining. Bus companies and other entities that hire unqualified drivers or do not take the time to train new drivers properly open themselves up to liability if one of their drivers causes an accident as a result of inexperience.