If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, you understand the damage that bus accidents cause. Bus accidents are often far more severe than typical car accidents due to the lack of safety features in most buses as well as the probability of vehicle rollover. It is important to contact an experienced Kansas City bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after your injuries so you can begin to heal from your injuries, both physically and emotionally.
Bus accidents can occur in any given day, for any given reason, and frequently involve a large number of injuries or even fatalities. Bus accidents can include the following types of accidents:
- School bus accidents
- Greyhound or long distance motor coach accidents
- Metro or city bus accidents
Bus Types Involved in Fatal Accidents
Each situation involves a large number of people who have a high probability of catastrophic injuries after an accident. These are some of the most traumatic injuries because frequently passengers are not paying attention to the road and are either sleeping, reading, or chatting, oblivious to the road until they are jolted back to reality by a terrifying accident.
CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS IN MISSOURI
Bus accidents in Kansas City, MO can be the result of a variety of factors and unfortunate occurrences. These include:
- Driver error, distraction or fatigue
- Mechanical failure or defective parts
- Unlicensed or improperly trained driver
- Drunk driving
Whether the bus driver or a driver of another car was at fault in the accident, you should not be responsible for paying for any injuries as a result of the accident and a seasoned Kansas City bus accident attorney can help you recover damages. Bus accidents have the tendency to cause long-lasting injuries that may take years to mend.
Bus Driver Liability
If the driver was at fault, the claims process can be muddled. Because the driver is likely employed by a school or public transportation bureau, they technically work for a government entity. Filing a claim with the government is different than a typical insurance claim. First, notice of an intent to file a claim must be made, usually within 180 days of the accident. This may vary depending on the situation, but an attorney can verify the statute of limitations in this regard.
Other than dealing with the government, there are still many similarities to a normal car accident. You should document the scene, assess the damage and get any witness statements, if there were any. Above all else, if you were injured or just suspect a possible injury, seek medical attention right away.
TYPES OF BUS ACCIDENT INJURIES
Injuries from bus accidents can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the unique circumstances of each case, and often include the following:
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Internal bleeding
Any of these injuries can result in months of hospital stays and visitations. Medical bills quickly add up despite the fact that you were not the driver of any car involved in an accident. As an innocent victim, you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and mental anguish. You should not be punished for being a passenger in a bus.
Missouri Bus Driving Laws
As expected, ensuring the safe transportation of a large passenger vehicle means that a potential driver has to undergo a lot of training. Once they become drivers, routine checks must be performed and a strict protocol followed every time they get behind the wheel. To become a bus driver in Missouri, you would have to:
- Obtain a Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL), which is required if you will be transporting 16 or more passengers. In order to do this you have to be at least 18 years old (21 in some cases) and score at least 80 percent on each test. A 50-question general knowledge test, plus a passenger and school bus certification test, each are 20 questions. An additional 25-question test would be required if the vehicle uses air brakes.
- Whether you would have to take a physical is now up to the school district or employer, rather than the state DMV. However, all drivers must have a statement from a medical examiner saying they are qualified to drive the bus. This must be completed annually.
- Pass an employment and criminal history background check with the school district or employer.
In terms of training requirements, prospective bus drivers have to take their driving test on the same bus which they will be operating. They must know how to execute proper turns, back up safely, and properly adjusting the mirrors so that there are no blind spots. The mechanical concerns of a bus are just as important as the ability to drive one, so the driver will need to know how to deal with any issues that may arise.
There are many procedures that a driver must follow before, during and after their shift. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists a plethora of federal requirements for each driver to safely operate their bus. Perhaps the most important thing for a driver to do is their post-trip inspection, to ensure that all children got off the bus. Walking up and down the aisle to make sure that no sleeping kids are still on the bus prevents tragic consequences.
In Missouri, grounds for driver disqualification and having their license suspended or revoked for a certain amount of time include:
- 60-day: Two serious traffic violations – such as speeding more than 15 mph over the limit, erratic lane changes, or any moving violation involving a fatal crash – within three years.
- 120-day: Three or more serious traffic convictions within three years.
- 180-day: First traffic conviction for violating an out-of-service order while operating a CMV (commercial motor vehicle).
- 1-year: Driving a CMV with a BAC of .04 or higher, failing to stop at the scene of an injury or fatality accident, using a CMV to commit a felony, driving a CMV while on a suspended license or causing a fatality while driving a CMV.
- 2-year: Second traffic conviction within ten years for driving a CMV while out-of-service.
- 3-year: First conviction for any one of the top seven violations listed under one-year disqualification while transporting hazardous materials. Third or subsequent conviction within ten years for violating out-of-service orders while operating a CMV. Second or subsequent conviction within ten years for violating an out-of-service order while operating a CMV and transporting hazardous materials or transporting 15 passengers or more.
- Lifetime: Second conviction for any one of the top seven violations listed under one-year disqualification.
Bus Accident Statistics
When fatal bus accidents occur, drivers and passengers of other, more vulnerable vehicles are most often killed. Since 1975, only 12.4 percent of the 13,798 people killed in bus crashes were occupants of the busses involved.
The majority of bus fatalities happen during the loading and unloading of passengers. For school buses, an average of 33 children die in bus-related accidents every year, two-thirds of whom are actually killed outside of the bus. This is why the “danger zone” is described as the 10 foot area surrounding the bus, because children can be difficult to see in these spots.
The reason there is such a focus on school buses, rather than city or metro buses, is that they account for 41 percent of all bus-related accidents in a year. In 2014, there were 109 fatalities in school bus crashes, and most of them could have been prevented. If the driver had done their routine checks or taken an extra second to make sure no kids were in the danger zone, tragedy could have been avoided. More than 90 percent of bus fatalities occur outside the bus, either to a pedestrian or passengers in another vehicle. This is why training and proper calibration of mirrors to avoid blind spots are so important.
DICKERSON OXTON, LLC | KANSAS CITY, MO BUS ACCIDENT LAWYERS
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, do not hesitate to contact the Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Dickerson Oxton, LLC. Our lawyers have years of experience in handling difficult bus accident cases that have resulted in severe injuries and represent clients all throughout the states of Missouri and Kansas. Do not let your injuries impact your financial life. Contact us today to schedule your initial free case evaluation.