Intercity buses, tour buses, mass transit buses, and other such vehicle carry almost as many passengers as airlines. Yet while major aviation crashes are relatively rare, major bus crashes are not terribly uncommon. Because of the nature of mass transit crashes, these victims may be entitled to substantial compensation.
In many cases, if liability is relatively clear and the Marietta personal injury attorney has a good reputation, passenger vehicle claims may settle rather quickly. But that’s usually not the case regarding bus crashes.
As mentioned, the damages are usually much higher. Additionally, the transportation company’s brand is at stake. Bus companies trade on their ability to safely move passengers from one place to the other. Even a slight dip in public confidence could be serious trouble in this highly competitive industry.
So, it is important to analyze these claims, so victims have some idea of what to expect.
Geographically speaking, bus crash victims are usually from all over the map. This diversity is especially acute in places like Fulton County/Cobb County. The Atlanta area is both a tourist destination and a transportation hub.
Furthermore, out-of-state companies usually own tour, intercity, and other buses. And, the bus driver could be an employee of the company which owned the bus or a tour agency that rented the bus at the time.
All these questions create issues with regard to venue. That’s the court which has the authority to hear a particular case. Generally, Marietta personal injury attorneys have three choices in this area, and each choice has some pros and cons.
- Defendant’s Residence: Victim/plaintiffs rarely bring bus crash claims in the county of the defendant’s residence. As mentioned, these companies are usually based outside Georgia. Many such companies have their legal headquarters in Delaware, because this state has favorable corporations laws. However, if the company has a bad reputation in its hometown, this venue might be favorable to the victim/plaintiff.
- Place of Contract Formation: Typically, bus passengers pay their fares in one county and then the bus travels to another county. This venue is usually convenient for victim/plaintiffs, and it often gives them a home field advantage. However, most or all of the evidence is probably located in another county. That could be a problem, especially since the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof.
- Where the Incident Occurred: As mentioned, the physical evidence, as well as most witnesses, are usually in the county where the crash occurred. However, if the victim was seriously injured, frequent trips to a distant county might be an issue.
So, there are a lot of factors to consider, and there is no right or wrong answer. In situations like these, in life as well as in negligence claims, it is usually best to accumulate as many facts as possible, make a decisive choice, and never look back.
Injuries in Bus Crash Claims
Head injuries are very common in bus crash claims, and not for the reasons you may expect. Large vehicle collisions are extremely loud. Sudden loud noises cause shock waves which disrupt brain functions. Furthermore, bus crashes usually involve sudden, violent movement as people are tossed about inside the passenger area. This motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
Exsanguination (blood loss) is usually serious as well, especially in intercity bus crashes. These collisions often occur far from suitable trauma centers. So, by the time victims arrive at the hospital, they may already be on the edge of hypovolemic shock, mostly due to internal bleeding.
Evidence in Bus Crash Claims
Collecting evidence is usually the next step. The evidence in the case usually determines the legal theory. If attorneys get these steps out of order, they may have to shove a square peg into a round hole. Just like head injuries have unexpected causes, much of the critical evidence in bus crash claims often comes from unexpected places.
- Event Data Recorder: All large vehicles have EDRs. These gadgets, which are connected to the drivetrain, are like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets. EDRs have valuable information about vehicle operation, and an attorney must act quickly to preserve this evidence. Otherwise, the insurance company may “accidentally” destroy it.
- Electronic Logging Device: The same urgency applies to ELDs. These devices, which record Hours of Service, are also attached to the drivetrain. So, in drowsy driver claims, there is definitive proof as to the number of hours the driver was behind the wheel. Circumstantial evidence, like the time of day or night, is also admissible on this point.
- Safety Maintenance System Database: The shipping company is usually not the only out of state party. Many times, the driver is from out of state as well. The federal SMS database is like an interstate driving record which keeps track of collision history, substance use, vehicle maintenance history, and other such items.
Traditional sources are important as well. Eyewitness testimony is quite compelling in front of a jury. Accident records, like medical records and the police accident report, establish both the extent of damages and legal fault for the crash.
Determining Liability in Bush Crash Claims
Establishing fault starts with understanding the duty of care. IN Georgia, commercial operators have a duty of highest care. They are practically insurers of safe conduct. Additionally, they must keep passengers safe while they are aboard the bus. That means cleaning spills on the floor and breaking up arguments before they become fights.
The higher duty of care makes it easier to establish ordinary negligence, which is a lack of care. Some noncommercial drivers can get by with things like talking to passengers while driving. But if the driver had a commercial license, such activity is probably distracted driving, which violates the duty of care. That’s why people are not supposed to disturb drivers while the bus is in motion. It’s a liability thing.
Ultimately, the company which organized the tour or the company which owned the bus is legally responsible for damages. The respondeat superior doctrine states that employers are liable for the negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of employment.
Contact an Assertive Lawyer
Bus crashes usually cause extremely serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Home and hospital visits are available.