Bus Accident Attorney in Columbia
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a Columbia Bus Accident, you need to have someone working on the case immediately. The Columbia bus accident lawyers at the Strom Law Firm can ensure that your personal injury claim is timely initiated, preserved, and filed to seek the compensation you deserve.
In a city like Columbia, with a growing public transit system, many commuters and students depend heavily on public transportation. Although a generally safe mode of transportation, bus accidents do occur. A bus’s capacity to cause damage is drastically increased by its weight and size, sometimes leading to catastrophic injury or death. Bus accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, leaving an injured victim with mounting medical bills and treatment, lost earnings, and serious or permanent disability.
2016 data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck and Bus Crash studies show the extent that buses contribute to the mortality rate in United States vehicular accidents. NHTSA conducted a 10-year study, School-Transportation-Related Crashes, documenting an average of 128 fatalities every year. Driver error is often the primary factor in such heartbreaking events.
At Strom Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys fight for compensation from negligent bus drivers, their employers, and transportation companies. We understand South Carolina’s transportation statutes and the complex legal questions that can arise in bus accident cases, including navigating multiple injured parties who have suffered numerous and significant injuries. The Columbia Bus Accident Lawyers at Strom Law Firm will devote time and resources to fight for fair compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We take the necessary steps to hold bus companies accountable for the injuries they cause by their negligence or other wrongful behavior.
Common Types of Bus Accident Injuries
In addition to causing harm to passengers on-board, when a bus crashes into pedestrians, cyclists, or passenger vehicles, the individuals on the other end of the accident can sustain life-altering injuries due to a bus’s weight and size. When bus accidents occur, they cause detrimental injuries with serious and often permanent, life-altering, effects:
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bus Accident?
After investigating bus accidents, many times, the driver is found to have been negligent or at-fault. Examples of negligent operation by bus drivers include distracted driving, reckless behavior, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other risky behavior. In addition, since a bus is usually a commercial vehicle, the driver may be held to a higher standard than a non-commercial driver. In addition, people and companies beyond the driver may be responsible:
- Employers: Bus companies are often responsible because they make hiring decisions and have control over the budget, training, scope, and actions of their drivers. If employers know their employee has prior driving violations, has ever been accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, has any other safety infractions or poor record, the employer may be liable claims related to negligent hiring and negligent entrustment.
- Bus Owner: When a bus owner improperly maintains their vehicle or does not fix known defects, they may be exposed to liability.
- Mechanics: Mechanics may contribute to an accident if they negligently complete maintenance and repair.
- Bus Manufacturer: Sometimes a bus or its parts are defective. If a bus defect causes an accident, the manufacturer can be liable for damages.
Two Types of Damages That Can Be Recovered From Bus Accident
1.) Economic damages include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Mobility devices or prosthesis
- Current and future income
- Physical or mental therapy
- Medical transportation costs
2.) Non-economic damages:
- Loss of ordinary functions
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Ongoing disabilities
- Impact on relationships
Will the responsible party try to Avoid Payment?
Insurance companies often try to convince victims to accept a quick settlement of a low amount. They may request recorded statements early on when an injured party does not yet know the full extent of the injuries or may request access to protected health information, all in an effort to reduce or otherwise deny a valid claim. Additional tactics can include:
- Denying Any Negligence: The defendants and their insurance company do not accept liability for an accident.
- Comparative Negligence: Arguing that the fault is either that of the injured party or of a third party;
- Denying The Existence Of A Defect: A defective product’s manufacturer will likely defend their company through denials of the existence of the defect.
- Disputing Damages: The attorneys of negligent parties who have no real liability defense often deny causation of the plaintiff’s injuries or call into question the extent or mere existence of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Columbia Bus Accident FAQ
Buses are an important part of the infrastructure of Columbia, allowing individuals to get where they need to go without owning a car. As with any other kind of transportation, however, riding a bus, also comes with the risk of an accident.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bus accident in Columbia, South Carolina , contact Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation. Read on for answers to commonly asked questions after a bus accident.
Q: What qualifies as a bus?
Generally speaking, a bus is any vehicle designed to carry a larger number of occupants. Depending on the facts, circumstances and registrations of the vehicles involved, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may govern the accident.
Q: How common are bus accidents in Columbia?
The statistics for bus accidents are difficult to track because they cover a multitude of different vehicles. It is notable, however, that in just one year 118 deaths and 13,000 injuries took place in the United States just from school bus accidents.
In South Carolina, in the most recent year for which we have data, no fatalities resulted from school bus collisions, but three total passenger bus collisions caused two fatalities. Additionally, more than 100 injury collisions involved school buses and nearly 80 injury collisions involved passenger buses in South Carolina in one year alone. School buses and passenger buses were in a combined 550 property damage accidents.
Q: What makes Columbia bus accidents more dangerous than other traffic crashes?
Buses are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles and carry more passengers. For example, a fully loaded school bus weighs approximately 42,000 pounds while a normal passenger vehicle weighs 3,000 pounds. Additionally, passengers are less likely to be wearing restraints while riding as a passenger on a bus, increasing the odds of injury or death in an accident.
Q: What are the most common causes of Columbia bus accidents?
Buses are susceptible to the same risks as other drivers, but some causes of accidents are more prevalent in accidents involving buses:
- Failure to see the vehicle. Buses have multiple blind spots, limiting the driver’s ability to see everything happening on the road, including other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
- Driver fatigue. Bus drivers must comply with demanding schedules, often requiring that they drive early in the morning, or late at night. This can increase the likelihood the driver will drive while overly tired.
- Driver distraction. Long hours behind the wheel mean bus drivers are more likely to become distracted. Additionally, bus passengers can create distractions that take the driver’s eyes or focus off the road.
- Mechanical failures. Buses are complicated vehicles that are prone to wear and tear given the many hours they spend on the road. Failure to properly maintain a bus or mechanical failures create a higher risk of accidents.
- Road conditions. Buses are harder to maneuver, so poorly designed or maintained roads present an increased hazard for these vehicles, as can a driver failing to accommodate for the larger size of the vehicles. .
The above list is by no means exhaustive but represents the unique risks buses present on the road.
Q: Are Columbia bus drivers governed by any specific laws or regulations?
Yes, buses are subject to specific laws and regulations, but the relevant regulations depend on whether federal law or state law governs the bus.
- Federal regulations: In some instances,the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will govern a bus. The federal regulations are wide-ranging but include provisions regarding alcohol consumption, hours of service, and safety certification and training.
- State regulations: South Carolina has specific regulations governing the operation of school buses and requires other bus drivers to comply with commercial licensing requirements.
An experienced South Carolina bus accident attorney will be familiar with the federal and state regulations and can evaluate whether the driver complied with all regulations.
Q: What type of training is required to drive a bus in Columbia?
Bus drivers require a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The appropriate commercial license will depend on the bus’s weight and the number of passengers transported. To secure a CDL, a driver must apply for a permit, pass all required knowledge tests, and pass a road test, which includes a pre-trip inspection, off-road, and on-road driving, and can include periodic medical evaluations.
School bus drivers have additional requirements, including certification by the State Board of Education, completing a training program, a physical medical examination, a drug screening, and in-service training requirements.
Q: What injuries are likely to occur in a Columbia bus accident?
Death or serious injury can happen after a bus accident given the size of the vehicles and the lack of safety restraint use.
Potential injuries include:
- Traumatic head and brain injuries: If a victim suffers a blow to the head, they are at risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other head injury such as a skull fracture or laceration. The symptoms accompanying these injuries are wide-ranging but at their most extreme can include a coma, vegetative state, or brain death.
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the body. Any damage to the spinal cord can result in various levels of paralysis.
- Neck injuries: Vehicle occupants can experience whiplash, herniated discs, slipped discs, and nerve damage after an accident. These injuries commonly disrupt day-to-day life and require physical therapy.
- Internal damage: If an accident victim suffers a blow to the body, internal damage is possible, including damage to organs such as the heart, lungs, or kidneys.
- Broken bones: Broken bones commonly result from passengers bracing for impact during an accident. A serious break could require surgery or ongoing physical therapy to mend.
- Cuts, bruises, and soft tissue injuries: Torn ligaments, pulled muscles, cuts, and bruises can leave people in pain and dealing with expensive medical bills.
Make your health and safety the first priority after an accident and seek immediate medical care.
Q: Who is responsible for my Columbia bus accident injuries?
If a party acted negligently, they may be responsible for any injuries resulting from their actions.
Many potentially negligent actors can cause a bus accident. Working with an experienced lawyer can help you assess the unique facts of your case to determine liability.
- Bus driver: Any violation of a traffic law or regulation, including those specific to bus drivers, may be used to demonstrate e that the driver is responsible for the accident and injuries.
- Private employer: If the bus is a charter bus or bus otherwise operated by a company, the employer may be responsible for a driver’s negligent actions any time they are operating in the scope of their employment. Additionally, the bus company is generally responsible for ensuring maintenance and upkeep of all buses.
- State agency: If the bus was a public or school bus, then a state agency may be responsible for the actions of drivers as well as safety maintenance of the buses.
- Bus manufacturer: If the accident took place because the manufacturer failed to perform required safety testing or due to a vehicle failure, the manufacturer may be responsible. This also includes failures that don’t cause the accident but cause or increase the severity of injuries, such as an airbag’s failure to deploy.
- Contract Entities: if the owner of a bus used a service for maintenance, upkeep, or to provide drivers, third parties may also be responsible for the events of the accident.
As with a regular motor vehicle accident, police often respond to the scene of a bus accident and prepare a report. The report may compile evidence vital to your case, including documentation of the accident scene, witness statements and contact information, and any citations issued for failure to comply with traffic laws. Even if you are not the driver, you can still obtain a copy of the report, or report the accident to the police. .
Q: What damages can I recover after my Columbia bus accident?
Damages you may be able to recover include:
- All medical expenses including doctors’ bills, the cost of hospital stays, cost of medical procedures, and prescription medication related to your injuries;
- Lost wages from missing work due to injuries, including an estimate of future lost wages and lost earning potential;
- The cost of repair or replacement of property the accident damaged, including damage to vehicles or other personal property such as electronics;
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the accident and injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression;
- Inability to participate in activities that were previously an important part of the victim’s life; and
- Punitive damages meant to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff if the defendant’s behavior is particularly egregious
Developing a comprehensive damages assessment is a critical component of case preparation.
Q: Should I accept a settlement offer for my Columbia bus accident?
Be sure to discuss any settlement offer with your attorney before accepting. While it can be tempting to quickly accept a settlement offer, initial offers may be lower than the strength of your case. Work with your lawyer to analyze a settlement offer against the strength of your case and your total damages.
Q: How long do I have to file a Columbia bus accident lawsuit?
The time you have to file a case related to a bus accident varies based upon a number of factors. Be sure to understand the timeframe, as failure to file within the allotted time may be fatal to your case. .
Contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure you have sufficient time to prepare your case and file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
Q: Why is an attorney an important partner after a Columbia bus accident?
A bus accident leaves victims to manage their injuries, property damage, paperwork from insurance companies, and learning to deal with all the ways their injuries have changed their day-to-day lives. These logistical, emotional, and financial burdens place serious stress on the victim’s shoulders. An experienced Columbia bus accident attorney can help take some of this stress off your plate.
A lawyer can help you:
- Analyze the facts of your case and assessing liability;
- Compe evidence to support your case;
- Prepare a damages assessment;
- Communicate with the defendant and insurance companies;
- Draftand file court documents; and
- Assess settlement offers
Strom Law Firm, LLC is known for its zealous advocacy for its clients. Our team understands that a serious accident or injury has a devastating impact on the victim’s life, and we vigorously advocate for our clients’ rights and interests. Our team’s legal experience, research resources, and a strong network of professional relationships allow us to bring the best possible service to each client.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a bus accident in Columbia, South Carolina, contact Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free case evaluation. We understand that each client’s situation is unique and treat every client with the individual attention they deserve.
Contact Our Accident Injury Lawyers Today for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation
If you have been injured in a bus accident in Columbia, Richland County, or anywhere else across South Carolina, contact us. We offer free case evaluations and we do not collect a fee unless we recover for you. Contact the experienced Columbia bus accident attorneys at 803-252-4800 or contact us online and find out if we are able to help you.
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