If a Bronx bus accident injured you, you’re probably hurting physically. As the bills come in, the pain becomes fiscal. Finally, as you deal with insurance companies, the pain grows emotional.
But a Bronx bus accident lawyer from Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman can help you understand your rights under state law to recover damages related to your injury. We understand both the severity of injuries that result from bus accidents as well as the complexities of filing a legal claim against a public transportation authority. Contact us for a free case evaluation, and read on to see how we have helped hundreds of people just like you.
Types of Buses Involved in Bronx Accidents
New York City is the fourth most congested city in the country, and the 14th most congested city in the world. The Bronx is as densely populated as the other boroughs. To relieve some of the traffic congestion that so many people living in a relatively small area creates, many public transportation sources serve the Bronx. However, sometimes the buses provided to prevent traffic congestion actually contribute to it by causing accidents.
Many types of buses take place each day in the Bronx. Some of these include:
- Private or chartered buses used by tour groups or churches.
- School buses designed to transport students to and from school.
- Inner-city transit buses that provide regular service on routes throughout the borough, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA).
- Inter-city bus carriers such as Greyhound service travelers who wish to ride to other cities.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, school buses were the most common type of bus to be involved in a fatal crash, accounting for 40 percent of all fatal bus crashes. Transit buses, such as those provided to Bronx citizens through MTA or NYCTA followed, accounting for 35 percent of all fatal bus crashes. Inter-city buses, such as those provided by Greyhound, accounted for 12 percent of all fatal bus crashes.
The Dangers of Buses in the Bronx
While buses do provide some protection to their passengers simply as a result of their large size and the increased safety regulations that bus drivers are required to comply with, they also pose hazards, including:
- Large size: While it protects passengers in certain types of accidents, the large size of a bus makes it less maneuverable, causes significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle, requires more distance to come to a safe stop, and makes wide turns.
- Frequent stops: Buses make frequent stops along their route and also frequently pull out into traffic as they resume the route. All of this frequent stopping and starting can be confusing to other drivers, particularly if the bus driver is not using turn signals and other signaling devices appropriately to warn drivers of their intention.
- Stairways and slippery surfaces: Buses and bus stations see a lot of foot traffic during every season of the year. During times of inclement weather, this can result in slippery stairways and surfaces both inside of the bus as well as in the bus station. It is the responsibility of the bus carrier or driver to ensure that these slippery surfaces are properly addressed and passengers are warned to avoid injury.
Common Causes of Bronx Bus Accidents
Just as with any type of motor vehicle, there are a lot of reasons why bus accidents occur. Some of these reasons involve the negligence of other drivers, while many involve the careless or reckless actions of the bus driver, the transit authority, carrier, school district, or other governmental entities, bus repair shops, or manufacturers.
Here is a look at some of the more common reasons that bus accidents occur:
- A distracted bus driver: The job of driving a bus requires the driver to deal with passenger-related distractions. Driving distractions can be both internal (meaning they occur inside the vehicle) or they can be external distractions (such as work zones, billboards, pedestrians, or even previous accident scenes). There are three types of distractions: manual distractions, which involve anything that causes the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel; visual distractions, which involve anything that causes the driver to take his or her eyes from the road; and cognitive distractions, which involve anything that causes the driver’s mind to stray from the task of safe driving. Some distractions fall into more than one of these categories. Texting, for example, distracts a driver manually, visually, and cognitively.
- Blind spots: A blind spot is an external area in the front, back, or alongside a vehicle that the driver can’t see simply by looking in his or her side or rearview mirrors. Like other large commercial vehicles, buses have significant blind spots on all four sides. This can result in accidents when the driver fails to look over his or her shoulder to ensure there is not another vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist in the blind spot before he or she backs up, turns, or changes lanes. This can also pose risks if a vehicle is following the bus close enough that it is in the bus’s rear blind spot. A good rule of thumb for drivers is to look for the bus driver’s reflection in the side-view mirror. If you cannot see the driver’s reflection, then chances are high that he or she cannot see you either.
- Narrow roadways and traffic congestion: Dense urban populations not only create an increased need for public transportation options, but also create crowded situations that make it difficult for the bus driver to maneuver without hitting another vehicle or other roadway user. Bus drivers must undergo extensive training to ensure that they are adequately prepared for driving in real-life situations that can include traffic congestion and little space to maneuver.
- Improperly loaded buses: Buses have a high center of gravity, meaning that they are more likely to overturn if the driver takes a corner or curve too fast, or attempts evasive maneuvers. This risk is increased when there is a weight imbalance caused by more passengers and cargo being loaded on one side of the bus than another. In addition to attentive driving, the bus driver must also pay attention to how the passengers are loading onto the bus to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed.
- Mechanical failures or improper maintenance: Because buses travel more miles than personal vehicles, they require frequent maintenance to ensure that they operate as intended. Tire blowouts, brake failures, and other issues on the bus can lead to a loss of vehicle control and can result in accidents.
- Other drivers: Between internal and external distractions, speeding, tailgating, and other forms of human error, a lot of bus accidents result from the actions of other roadway users.
While accidents are one way that bus passengers can become injured, they face several other hazards with using public transportation, including premises liability issues both on the bus as well as in the station, including slippery floors and stairways, criminal activity by other passengers, and inattentive drivers they encounter when getting on or off of the bus.
The Injuries Suffered in Bronx Bus Accidents
Because most buses are not equipped with seat belts and lack the maneuverability of a smaller car that would allow the bus driver to take evasive actions to avoid an accident, passengers are at risk of suffering severe injuries, such as:
- Whiplash, which is a soft tissue injury that occurs when the force of a collision causes an individual’s head to snap back and forth in a motion resembling a whip. While this injury is often regarded as “minor,” it can cause permanent damage in some cases, leading to chronic pain for the sufferer.
- Internal bleeding resulting from contact between the passenger’s body and other objects.
- Traumatic brain injuries, which are caused by a violent blow to the head or body and can result in life-long disabilities and even death.
- Spinal injuries, which include damage to the vertebrae, the discs, or even to the cord itself. Spinal cord injuries generally result in a loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury, which is known as paralysis.
- Broken bones or severed limbs.
- Sprained and torn ligaments.
New York’s Laws Pertaining to Bronx Bus Accident Cases
New York law allows you to recover damages related to your Bronx bus accident injury through a lawsuit filed in civil court.
Several parties could be responsible for a bus accident, including:
- The driver, who is subject to regulations regarding drug and alcohol use, texting during work, specialized training and licensure to operate the bus safely, as well as how many consecutive hours the driver is permitted to be on the road.
- The employer. All common carriers, school districts, and transportation authorities are required to ensure that their drivers are properly licensed, trained, and in compliance with federal and local driver regulations, that the bus is in proper working order, and that the bus and the station (if there is a station involved) is free from hazards that could injure travelers.
- The entity or person responsible for providing maintenance on the bus, if the accident was found to be caused by a maintenance issue.
- The manufacturer or distributor of the bus or bus parts, if the accident was the result of a defective part.
- The governmental entity responsible for maintaining the roadway, if the accident was caused by a road defect.
- Other drivers on the roadway whose actions contributed to the accident.
To prove liability, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable person or entity would have taken in similar circumstances. For example, if your accident was the result of bus driver negligence, the duty of care that the bus driver owed would be to operate the bus safely and in compliance with all federal and local regulations.
- There was a breach in the duty of care that was owed. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed.
- This breach resulted in an accident, which caused you to sustain an injury and to incur financial expenses as well as physical and emotional impacts on your life.
New York allows individuals to recover both economic and non-economic damages through the Bronx bus accident claims process. Economic damages are out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of your injury.
Examples of economic damages commonly claimed in Bronx bus accident cases are:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment at the scene of the accident or in the emergency department; transport to the hospital via ambulance or air; hospitalization; diagnostic testing; physician and surgical services; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages caused by being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to work or requires you to take a lower-paid position than what you held before the accident.
Non-economic damages are the impacts on your life caused by the injury.
Some examples of non-economic damages commonly claimed in Bronx bus accident lawsuits include:
- Physical pain and suffering due to the injury itself or the painful treatments involved in your recovery.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
Your attorney would determine a value of your case that is based both on the expenses you have incurred and will likely incur in the future, as well as the profound impacts that you have faced as a result of your injury.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bronx Bus Accidents
Each year in New York City, hundreds of accidents involve buses, including more than 50 in the Bronx. While being injured in this type of accident is not at all unusual in this region, the notion that it is a bus accident rather than a car accident causes a lot of uncertainty for people. Here are some of the questions our Bronx clients most frequently ask about bus accidents. For more specific information about your legal options, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman for a free consultation.
What does it mean to recover damages after a Bronx bus accident and how do I know which damages to claim?
As explained by Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, in civil cases, damages are a legal remedy in the form of monetary compensation paid by the liable party (known as the defendant) to the party who was harmed. New York allows injured individuals to seek both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are compensation for out-of-pocket expenses that the injured person has incurred because of the injury.
Examples of the type of economic damages you could claim include:
- Medical expenses, such as those related to ambulance transport, emergency treatment, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and other necessary expenses related to the medical treatment of your injury.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or having to miss work to attend doctor’s appointments related to your injury.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injuries from the accident result in a permanent disability that renders you unable to work or causes you to have to accept a lower-paying position.
Non-economic damages are compensation for the injury’s impacts on your life.
Examples of this type of damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
One of the many services your bus accident lawyer could provide to you is a valuation of your case that is based on the past, present, and future expenses of your injury as well as the often profound impacts that a serious injury can have on the life of the injured person and his or her family members.
If I file a Bronx bus accident lawsuit, will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. Most Bronx bus accident claims resolve before they reach the courtroom—with many of those resolutions featuring a settlement agreement between the parties—it is more likely that your case will not go to court than will. That said, sometimes a Bronx bus accident claim does wind up going to trial and it is important that you have an attorney who is as comfortable fighting for your right to compensation for your injury through litigation as he or she is with negotiating a settlement.
How long do I have to file a legal claim after being injured in a Bronx bus accident? How soon can I file?
Generally, the statute of limitations requires you to file your civil lawsuit within three years after the date of your accident. However, bus accident cases are a bit more complex than other motor vehicle accident cases.
Depending on the type of bus that caused the accident, different deadlines and slightly different procedures may apply. This is because municipal or governmental entities own or operate many Bronx buses. Your attorney would make you aware of the deadlines in your case.
Your attorney would need some time to study the details of your case before filing. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to allow him or her the time necessary to prepare your case for filing, particularly if government agencies or municipalities bear liability, as the procedure may differ when filing claims against such entities.
What if I was injured in a Bronx bus accident as a passenger of another car? Can I still file a claim?
In an accident, if the careless or reckless actions of someone else result in an injury to you, you could pursue damages. A bus passenger is not the only one eligible to file a claim in a bus accident. Occupants of other cars can also seek compensation for their injuries, as can pedestrians or bicyclists who were injured.
How are accidents involving buses different than those that involve passenger cars?
Several factors make bus accidents different from other types of motor vehicle accidents, such as:
- Sources of liability. There are often several potential sources of liability in a bus accident. For example, even if a negligent bus driver caused the accident that resulted in your injuries, the bus company, carrier, school district, or transportation authority can also have liability in some circumstances. Your attorney would study the details of your case to identify all potential sources of liability and insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you.
- The severity of the crash. Buses are large vehicles and are often difficult to maneuver. This lack of maneuverability makes it difficult for the bus driver to take evasive actions to avoid a perceived collision and requires a longer distance to come to a safe stop. The vehicle’s large size can also increase the severity of the crash, the damage to smaller cars involved, and the likelihood of serious injury or death to bus passengers and others on the roadway.
- The number of injured. Buses can hold a lot of people, and very rarely provide seat belts for passengers. If the bus overturns or is involved in a serious crash, many people can become injured at once. Often, bus accident cases feature many plaintiffs with similar claims arising out of the same incident.
I am not even sure how the Bronx bus accident happened. How can I prove liability?
Call us. We can learn a lot about how the accident happened by obtaining a copy of the police report, and that is just one piece of evidence involved in a bus accident case.
We can also look at different documents, depending on the facts of your case, including:
- The bus driver’s license documentation and driving record.
- The bus driver’s personnel record, including training that was provided by the employer and the results of drug, alcohol, and health screenings.
- The employer’s insurance.
- The maintenance record on the bus.
- The testimony of eyewitnesses.
- Your medical records and information provided by your medical team.
I was injured in a bus accident while on my way to work. Would I file a workers’ compensation claim or a Bronx bus accident claim?
New York requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation for their employees. Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that provides medical and wage loss benefits for those who are injured on the job. Your commute to work probably is not considered “on the job.” Therefore, only in a few very limited circumstances would workers’ compensation be the appropriate avenue for seeking compensation after a bus accident. While an attorney would need to know the details of your case to be sure, in all likelihood you would seek to recover damages through a Bronx bus accident claim.
If I receive compensation from my Bronx bus accident claim, will I have to pay taxes on it?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, personal injury settlements and awards are, for the most part, not considered income and are not taxable. However, there are some exceptions. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded. Punitive damages are not related to the expenses and impacts of your injury, but are imposed to punish a defendant for particularly egregious behavior and discouraging such behavior from the defendant in the future. Because punitive damages are not related to your injury, that part of your award can be subject to tax.
Additionally, if you deduct your medical expenses, you will likely need to repay the amount of that deduction when you receive your settlement or award if part of the damages you recovered were for your medical expenses.
Can I use my PIP policy to cover the expenses of the injuries I received in a Bronx bus accident?
Your no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) policy that you were required to purchase to register your vehicle in New York is a good resource for obtaining compensation to cover early medical and other necessary expenses including wage loss, up to $50,000 per person. Fortunately, these policies often cover injuries that the insured suffers in other types of accidents, including a bus accident in which you were a passenger on the bus, a pedestrian or bicyclist, or the occupant of another car. Speak to an attorney after the accident even if you plan to file a claim on your PIP policy. While $50,000 seems like a lot of money, it can be spent very quickly, leaving you with unpaid expenses.
Will my PIP policy provide coverage for injuries to my child in a Bronx school bus accident?
Generally, your policy will provide coverage for any type of motor vehicle accident anyone who is named on your policy as a household member is involved in, either as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist. However, call your insurance provider for clarification as to who and what is covered, as policies vary.
If a governmental agency is a liable party in my Bronx bus accident case, will it be more difficult to have a successful outcome?
Many people believe that you cannot sue the government. However, most state legislators have removed governmental immunity in cases in which a person has been harmed by an agency or a representative of that agency. The process of pursuing compensation against a governmental agency is certainly different and more complex than other types of cases involving motor vehicle crashes. Your attorney could explain to you how these different procedures work and would help you determine the strength of your case against that agency.
How can an attorney help me with my Bronx bus accident case?
A bus accident attorney understands the amount of documentation involved in investigating a bus accident case, as well as the often complex filing requirements that this type of case demands.
Some of the many services that an attorney can provide to you include:
- A free case evaluation. This initial consultation is time that allows you to get answers to legal questions that are specific to your case, to learn more about the process, and to evaluate whether the attorney is who you want to represent you.
- An investigation of your case to determine all potential sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you.
- Timely filing of all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
- A valuation of your case that is based on the expenses you have incurred and will likely incur in the future as well as the impacts that your injuries have had on your life.
- The gathering and organization of evidence and witness testimony to strengthen your case.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the examination of witnesses, and the presentation of evidence.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- Continued representation if the defendant in your case appeals a judgment in your favor.
Call Our Bronx Bus Accident Lawyers for Help With Your Case Now
Let a Bronx personal injury lawyer from Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman help you to understand your legal options. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1250 Waters Place, Tower 1, Suite 502
Bronx, NY 10461
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