The Reno-Sparks area is well-served by public transportation, and the tourist areas of Reno frequently see charter and group buses discharge and pick up sight-seeing passengers. From the strip to the school districts, buses are an integral part of our area.
But what happens if a bus is involved in an accident? We have to look no further than two recent examples. In the mining area near Carlin, Nevada, a head-on collision between a semi-truck and a bus carrying miners to work killed one of the miners and the truck’s driver several weeks ago. Two-thirds of the bus’s passengers were sent to the hospital, with six victims injured seriously enough to be transported to larger hospitals in Reno and Salt Lake City. Closer to home, a motorcyclist who recently collided with a Washoe County school bus died instantly.
Tragic as they are, both of these accidents illustrate the nature of bus crashes, whether they are public transport, tourist, or school buses. First, buses are large and heavy, so any collision with them can be severely injurious and possibly fatal. This is true whether the other party in the collision is another bus, a truck, a car, a motorcycle, a bicycle, or a pedestrian. Second, buses often carry many people. A crash involving a bus thus has the potential to injure or cause multiple fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, call the experienced attorney at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers for a consultation. We have the resources to investigate the causes of the accident, obtain expert testimony if required, and give you advice on your case.
Bus accidents can have multiple causes. Driver error, such as failure to yield right of way or improper turning, is one potential cause.
But the conditions of the bus itself can also cause an accident. Companies that own and operate the buses are responsible for maintaining them in a safe condition. Buses should be inspected regularly, and anything requiring attention or repair should be addressed. If maintenance or poor repair has caused or contributed to an accident, such as poor brakes or blown tires, the company responsible for maintenance, repair, and inspection is responsible in the event of an accident.
Bus drivers also must be properly trained and licensed. In Nevada, they need to have a commercial driver’s license, which requires certain types of testing and training. If they are not properly licensed, the company that hired them may be at fault. If a bus accident occurs because of a faulty or defective part or component, the manufacturer or repair facility may be to blame.
Other parties can also be responsible for accidents involving a bus. Driver error on the part of other vehicles can cause bus crashes. Even pedestrians may partially bear responsibility for being hit by a bus, counterintuitive as that may seem. In Nevada, pedestrians are legally required to give right-of-way to vehicles in areas other than crosswalks and intersections, although drivers also need to give due care to pedestrians.
Finally, Nevada as a whole has a high proportion of accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol (roughly a third of all types of fatal traffic accidents). Alcohol or other substances may play a role in bus accidents as well, and if so, the consumer of the substances may bear whole or partial responsibility.
Because responsibility in a bus accident can be complex, it is sometimes necessary to investigate the causes of an accident. Police reports, witness statements, bus company and other records, surveillance footage, and forensic analysis of the crash scene can all be used in an investigation.
Liability in a bus accident depends on who or what caused the crash. If bus driver error caused the accident, the driver can be liable for injuries and damages. Drivers will generally pay damages through insurance companies. Nevada is an at-fault state, where responsible drivers pay for damages; therefore, if drivers of other vehicles were responsible, they will also pay damages, likely through insurance companies.
If a company or manufacturer or other entity caused your accident, that entity may be liable. Liability depends on responsibility and considers the potential of negligence. Drivers, companies, and manufacturers all owe a duty of care to people on the roadways and other areas. Drivers need to operate their vehicles safely and in accordance with traffic and other laws. Companies and manufacturers need to make sure that the vehicles are safe, well-maintained, and free of defect. If they find a problem, they need to fix it as promptly as possible. Companies and manufacturers also need to exercise reasonable care to determine if any safety problems exist, such as performing regular inspection and maintenance. Companies should also take care that drivers are trained and appropriately licensed.
If any of these parties don’t exercise their duty of care, or don’t fix problems within a reasonable amount of time, a court may determine that they breached the duty of ordinary care. If so, the court can find them negligent and thus responsible for damages that stem from the accident.
Depending on the circumstances, individuals injured in bus accidents are eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, rehabilitative therapy, and loss of wages from work. They may also receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.
Have you or has a friend or family member been injured in a Reno bus accident? Let the experienced attorneys at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers advocate on your behalf. We work with investigators and expert witnesses to secure compensation for the full cost of your injuries, either from insurance companies or through litigation.
Our first consultation is free. Contact Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers online or by calling (775) 600-6000 today.
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