Whether operated by municipal bus networks or through private companies, hundreds of buses transport passengers to, from, across, and through Pennsylvania every day. The driver of any kind of bus is expected to always act reasonably to ensure the safety of passengers and other motorists. Any violation could serve as the foundation for a civil lawsuit.
Each year, bus accidents in Pennsylvania cause hundreds of fatalities and serious injuries. Many of these collisions were regrettably caused by bus drivers' negligence. This could be the result of negligent driving, such as failing to yield to vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycles, or other traffic violations. In some cases, the vehicles lacked proper maintenance, safety harnesses, and seat belts.
Accidents involving buses are unique and require specialized handling. If you have been injured in an accident, you need the expertise of a Pennsylvania bus accident attorney. What you do following a Pennsylvania bus accident is crucial.
This article will discuss the steps that you must take if you have been injured in a bus accident in PA in order to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
What Should I Do After a Bus Accident in Pennsylvania?
Regardless of the experience level of the bus driver, anything can happen. This is why they are called accidents, and they happen every day. In the event of a disaster, you must be prepared, especially if you or someone else are injured. Knowing what to do in the event of a bus accident will enable you to move forward.
- Receive Appropriate Medical Care - After any accident, but particularly a bus accident, your primary concern should be your physical health and well-being. Allow a doctor to examine and treat you without delay. Consider that some injuries may not manifest symptoms until hours, days, or even weeks after an accident. Before filing a claim, you should request medical records from your physician to determine if you have sustained internal injuries.
- Report the Incident to the Police - In the aftermath of a bus accident, it is strongly advised that you contact the police promptly. It is necessary to report any accident to avoid potential legal complications, and it is also advantageous to document the accident for use in a bus accident claim. Bus conductors are required to contact the police in the event of an accident. However, you should do the same, and if you do, you should provide the officer at the scene with specific details without admitting fault.
- Collect all Accident Information and Evidence - After being involved in a bus accident, it is vital that you collect as much information and evidence as possible. This information can be used as evidence in the future if you pursue compensation. Photography is essential for the presentation of evidence in your case. Photographing the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage will be highly beneficial. It is also essential to obtain the contact information of everyone involved, including witnesses.
What are the Main Causes of Bus Accidents in Pennsylvania?
Inadequate Licensing and Training
When unqualified drivers are permitted to operate buses, fatal accidents are more likely to occur. Drivers may lack the necessary commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and training to safely handle buses. A lack of knowledge and experience in operating these large and complex vehicles, navigating city streets, abiding by traffic laws, and responding to emergency situations can endanger the safety of passengers and other road users.
Increased Possibility of Mistakes
Unqualified bus drivers are more likely to make driving errors. This may consist of the following:
- Distracted driving
- Improper lane changes
- Running red lights
- Misunderstanding bus lanes and signals
- Risk-taking behavior
Unqualified bus drivers' legal negligence endangers not only passengers, but also pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists on Philadelphia's congested streets.
Lack of Knowledge of Critical Safety Protocols
Proper training equips bus drivers with vital knowledge of safety protocols, emergency procedures, and bus safety equipment operation. However, unqualified bus drivers may lack this information, making it difficult to respond to potentially hazardous situations. These motorists may not know how to use safety features such as emergency brakes and vehicle stability control, resulting in fatal accidents. Without adequate training and consistent evaluations by administrators, public transportation systems risk operating in unsafe conditions. These circumstances can cause accidents.
Liability for Bus Accidents in Pennsylvania
An accident involving a bus is the responsibility of the entity that owns and operates the bus and, in some cases, the driver. The law requires all bus operators to operate their vehicles safely, including driver safety on the road, proper vehicle maintenance, and driver background checks. A bus driver is liable for an accident if they violate their duty of care to operate the vehicle safely. Similarly, if a bus driver negligently operated the vehicle, he or she could be found at fault and held at fault. Responsibility may be shared by multiple parties, adding to the complexity.
Claims for Bus Accidents in Pennsylvania
If you were injured in a bus accident involving a government-owned and/or-operated bus, you should consult with an experienced PA personal injury attorney familiar with filing claims against the government.
To file a claim against a commercial company or driver, you have to prove that they were negligent. A driver's actions, such as excessive acceleration or driver fatigue, may constitute negligence. If the bus was not maintained adequately, if safety standards were not met, or if other reasonable safety protocols weren't followed, the commercial entity may be found negligent.
Compensation for Damages Following a Pennsylvania Bus Accident
You may include both economic and non-economic losses in your settlement demand or lawsuit, subject to the compensation limits applicable to cases involving public bus accidents.
Examples of typical recoverable losses in a claim:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost income/wages from work
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life’s pleasures
- Personal property damage
An experienced PA bus accident attorney will provide more information on the types of compensation you may be entitled to after a bus accident.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit in PA Following a Bus Accident?
When a private bus driver's or bus company's negligence directly causes an accident that causes you injury, you have the right to file a lawsuit. 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5524 specifies a two-year limitation period for filing a lawsuit.
Your case may be more complicated if the defendant is a government employee or the municipal transit authority that employs them. According to 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5522, anyone who intends to sue a government agency for a personal injury must notify that entity in writing within six months of the date of the injury; therefore, you have a much shorter window of time to initiate the litigation process than the PA statute of limitations allows.
The Personal Injury Attorneys at Brandon J. Broderick Will Assist You in Moving Forward After a Bus Accident
It is not necessary to retain the services of a PA bus accident attorney in order to file a claim or a lawsuit, but it would be wise to do so in this instance.
There may be complex rules and laws that you do not know or understand, so having a legal professional can be of great assistance. Important filing deadlines must be considered. In addition, if you do not have legal representation, the bus driver's insurance company may attempt to offer you less compensation by exploiting your lack of experience. Remember that even a minor bus accident can result in severe injuries, expensive medical bills, and an extended recovery period.
Consult a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, such as Brandon J. Broderick, in order to avoid making similar mistakes or receiving less compensation. With the knowledge that an experienced attorney is managing your case, you can focus on your recovery. Contact us now for a free consultation. We are looking forward to helping you.