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Hurt in a Bus Accident? Our Accident Attorneys Can Help
People living in Chicago and tourists alike rely on Buses. Whether a bus takes you to work or you’re taking a guided tour as one of the most dynamic cities in America, Chicago has a wide variety of buses, and if an accident happens you should speak with an experienced bus accident lawyer.
Contact our Chicago bus accident attorneys today at (312) 236-2900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Chicago Charter Bus Accidents
People here take architecture tours by boat, Segway tours in our urban corridors, double-decker guided tours of city attractions, and many more. Because these activities draw so many people, it is absolutely vital that companies who operate charter buses and other specialty vehicles maintain their buses, hire qualified drivers, and generally operate them safely.
When these precautions are not taken and a charter bus accident happens, the commercial bus company and possibly other parties are considered to have been legally negligent.
For example, four people were killed in Seattle when a land and water vehicle, popularly known as a “duck boat” collided with a charter tour bus filled with international college students. Forty-four people were hospitalized following the collision and the bus accident left a dozen people in critical condition. Federal investigators subsequently concluded that the duck boat had an axle that had been sheared off, causing the crash.
Complications with Charter Bus Accidents
Even though this charter bus collision did not occur here in Chicago, it’s important to note because it is strikingly similar to bus collisions that happen here on the busy roads and highways of Chicago and even greater Illinois. Bus accidents are extremely common both in greater Illinois and throughout the Chicagoland region. Just this month, three people were injured when a car collided with a CTA bus at the intersection of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue, demonstrating how easy it is for large and cumbersome buses to cause serious injury accidents.
The fact is that thousands of people in Chicago and other urban centers in Illinois rely on bus transportation in Illinois every day for work, school, leisure, and errands as well.
When a person gets onto a charter bus, tourist vehicle or even mass transportation, they trust in the capabilities of the driver and that the commercial bus operator has taken steps to ensure the vehicle is safe and fully operational. It is unfortunate that many charter bus accidents could have been prevented had a party not been negligent in operating the bus or in keeping up with maintenance.
When passengers suffer injuries, it is within their rights to take legal action to hold negligent parties accountable. As a private charter bus, commercial tour operators have an extra duty of care to keep their passengers safe from harm.
Charter Bus Regulations in Chicago
As with other commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers, the charter bus industry is regulated by a variety of state and federal agencies. In 2012, President Obama signed new governing regulations under the “Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.”
In drafting this new legislation, officials with several federal agencies outlined the major concerns that have contributed to character bus fatalities in the past decade. These concerns include:
- Driver Fatigue. This issue was the top cause of charter bus fatalities according to the study.
- Vehicle Condition. As with commercial trucks, the second-highest contributor to bus accidents that include fatalities is the physical condition of the bus.
- Medical Condition. A bus driver’s medical condition is another major factor in bus accidents that result in fatalities.
The new focus on charter bus safety was spurred by a rise in fatalities. In 2012, there were 250 fatal bus crashes in the United States, which was a significant increase over previous years.
Chicago Charter Bus Crashes: Who’s Responsible?
When a passenger, other drivers, or bystanders are injured in a charter bus accident, there may be several individuals or companies that may be held responsible for damages. These parties could potentially include:
- The Charter Bus Company. The company that owns and operates the bus is legally responsible for the maintenance of the tour vehicle, the screening and hiring of qualified drivers and meeting all state and federal safety regulations.
- Other Drivers. If an accident happens due to the actions of another vehicle or driver, those drivers and/or their insurance provider may be held liable for resulting injuries.
- Manufacturers or Maintenance Shops. Charter bus operators are required by federal law to inspect their vehicles for flaws and maintain the engine, tires, lights and other mechanical equipment. If the company has failed to meet these requirements, they may be liable. However, if a mechanical problem is due to an inherent defect, the bus manufacturer or the manufacturer of a specific mechanical part of the bus may be held responsible.
Threats to Pedestrians
Charter buses that are operating poorly are not just a threat to other passenger vehicles, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. They can also be deadly to passengers and pedestrians walking down the street. For instance, in 2011, a 26-year-old woman was walking across the intersection at Illinois Street and Columbus Drive in Streeterville when a charter bus made a right turn at the corner.
Because the driver did not see her, the bus ran the woman over and killed her as a result. Her family subsequently reached a multi-million settlement with the tour bus company.
Chicago School Bus Accidents
As a parent, your children are the most precious things in your world. When they’re school-aged, you put them on a bus five days each week and entrust the bus driver and the school district to keep them safe and get them home at the end of the day.
When a school bus is involved in a crash with another vehicle, that can be a horrifying experience for a parent. Getting a call from the school or a hospital saying that your child has been injured can cause tremendous worry and anxiety, and probably some anger that your child was hurt because of someone else’s negligence.
It’s not uncommon for children’s school bus-related injuries to be caused by other drivers just not following the rules. In Illinois, drivers are required to stop when a school bus stops to let students on or off. Numerous children are hurt each year when drivers fail to stop or try to pass a school bus while children are crossing the street to get on the bus or after exiting the bus.
When a crash involves a car or truck hitting the bus, injuries can be serious since many school buses are not required to have seat belts to protect students in the event of an accident. School bus accidents also can involve injuries to numerous students, making lawsuits seeking compensation somewhat complicated.
Recovering Damages in School Bus Accidents
If your child was injured in an accident in which another motor vehicle hit a school bus, you may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may be able to have your child’s medical expenses covered, as well as receive compensation for your child’s pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Other types of damages for which you might be compensated include loss of normal life, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you:
- Investigate the accident
- Gather medical bills, photographs, accident reports, witness statements, copies of insurance policies and other documents and evidence to support your claim
- Make a demand for compensation to the insurance company
- Negotiate a settlement
- File a lawsuit and try the case if necessary
When the Bus Driver Is Negligent
Sometimes a child is injured because the bus driver wasn’t paying proper attention or wasn’t properly trained. Children can be hurt when a bus driver hits an object or another vehicle, or the bus moves while children are still getting on or off. A number of children injured or killed in school bus-related accidents were hit by the bus itself.
When the school bus driver is at fault, you may be able to recover compensation from the school district, which should have insurance to cover accidents caused by school bus drivers. However, recovering damages from a school district, which is a government entity, can be a long and challenging process that may require a lawsuit.
Qualified Representation Matters – Call a Chicago Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or your child was injured in a bus-related accident, it’s recommended that you consult with an attorney who has significant experience with these kinds of claims. It’s important to identify the correct party or parties who bear liability, and an experienced bus accident attorney will have the knowledge to sort through the facts, evidence, and complicated legal principles involved and to work toward the best possible outcome for your family.
Call us today for a free consultation of your situation: (312) 236-2900.