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Hakim Injury Law: Bus Crashes in California

The Three Kinds of Bus Crashes in California

September 14, 2023

These wrecks cause unbelievably serious injuries. Most buses have no passenger restraint systems, except maybe a lap seat belt. Passengers who aren’t wearing three-point seat belts are 50 percent more likely to sustain a serious injury in a wreck. These serious injuries include brain injuries, broken pelvises, and other injuries that are normally fatal.

Furthermore, from a legal perspective, these wrecks are very complex. Bus crashes, especially intercity bus crashes, are basically a combination of a vehicle collision and a mass tort. Car crash legal principles, like ordinary negligence and comparative fault, usually apply. But these crashes usually affect dozens of victims who are from different counties or even different states.

So, California bus accident lawyers must have connections in the local medical community and experience with large cases. Head injuries and other collision-related injuries are very difficult to diagnose and treat. Most doctors, even experienced ones, don’t have the necessary skills. Large cases often have additional procedural hurdles and, due to the huge amount of money involved, almost always involve protracted court cases.

School Bus Crashes

These wrecks usually aren’t “accidents.” Bus driver negligence or the other driver’s negligence usually causes them.

School bus drivers have tough jobs. They must safely operate very large vehicles on streets that weren’t designed to accommodate large vehicles. Furthermore, they must usually watch the road, strictly adhere to their very tight stop schedules, and supervise unruly students.

Therefore, these operators are dangerously distracted. Most people can multitask their way through a day at home, work, or school. But they cannot multitask while they operate heavy machinery.

Bus driver-caused wrecks usually involve third-party liability. Sometimes, the school district or county owns the bus. Sometimes, a private contractor owns the bus. The same legal theories apply, but when you sue city hall, some additional procedural hurdles apply.

Noncommercial vehicle drivers are often distracted as well. Other kinds of driver impairment include substance abuse and fatigue. Other noncommercial operators drive aggressively. They’re so anxious to get around slow-moving school buses that they speed around them or otherwise drive recklessly. Driver impairment and aggressive driving both breach the duty of reasonable care. So, a California School Bus Crash Lawyer can use the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain compensation in these wrecks.

Municipal Bus Crashes

Suggested: California Municipal Bus Accidents

These operators usually don’t need to monitor unruly passengers. But they do need to safely operate vehicles that are larger than school buses and also watch the clock closely. 

Public transportation authorities almost always own and operate municipal buses. Therefore, California’s limited sovereign immunity law usually applies in these cases. Basically, this law divides government acts into:

  • Administrative acts, such as passing laws or making rules, and
  • Ministerial acts, such as driving, maintenance, and other acts that allow discretion.

Putting or not putting a stop sign on a corner is an administrative act. The sovereign immunity law usually applies in such situations. Maintaining that stop sign, like replacing it when it’s vandalized and trimming tree branches that obscure it, is a ministerial act. Compensation is available in these cases. In most cases, California Bus Accident Attorneys must file a notice of claim before a lawsuit. A notice of claim gives the transportation authority or other government unit the chance to investigate the claim and settle it quietly before it becomes public record.

Intercity Bus

Private companies almost always operate intercity buses, tour buses, and party buses. So, the sovereign immunity law usually doesn’t apply in these cases. But the other two principles discussed above, driver negligence and employer responsibility, usually apply.

Because they’re professional drivers, bus drivers usually have a duty of utmost care in California. Driving defensively isn’t enough. Instead, commercial operators must assume other drivers will make mistakes and be prepared to respond accordingly.

Fire trucks blowing through a red light in emergency mode (light flashing and siren wailing) are a good example. Usually, these drivers have a duty to at least slow down and ensure the intersection is clear.

Vicarious liability theories, like respondeat superior, are very important in bus crash cases because as mentioned, these crashes usually seriously injure many people at once. Usually, employers are financially responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment. Independent contractors and other such individuals are normally employees for negligence purposes.

These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact Our Experienced California Bus Accident Attorneys

Today Injury cases involve complex issues. For a free consultation with a Bus Accident Attorney in Los Angeles, CA, contact Sharona Hakim, Esq. at the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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