Many vehicles use the roadways in and around Spring Hill, including different types of buses. Whether the bus is transporting students to school for the Spring Hill School District, providing public transportation through Hernando County’s The Bus transit, or is filled with tourists visiting the area, buses are a regular sight in the city. Unfortunately, buses are large and cumbersome vehicles to operate, and accidents can occur, resulting in injuries to the bus driver, passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and vulnerable roadway users, including pedestrians.
Individuals who experienced injury in a bus accident can seek compensation through Florida’s personal injury claims process. This process is often complex for claimants, as the source of liability can include a government agency or a private company. Claims against government agencies often have different filing deadlines and requirements, and determining liability in any bus accident can leave you confused.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a bus accident, an experienced Spring Hill bus accident lawyer from Dolman Law Group can evaluate your claim for free. They can answer the legal questions you have about your case and tell you about the services our team can provide to assist you in seeking the compensation you need to cover the expenses and psychological impacts of your injury.
- Why Choose Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers?
- How Bus Accidents Happen in Spring Hill
- Sources of Liability in Bus Accidents
- Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Spring Hill Bus Accident
- Frequently Asked Questions About Spring Hill Bus Accident Claims
- Contact our Spring Hill Bus Accident Attorneys Today
Why Choose Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers?
At Dolman Law Group, our lawyers have spent years arguing some of the most complex catastrophic injury cases in courtrooms across Florida, garnering millions of dollars of needed compensation for our clients. We have offices across both coasts, making it easy to reach quality legal assistance even if you’re not from Spring Hill, and an extensive network of legal, medical, and other expert assistance.
How Bus Accidents Happen in Spring Hill
The Hernando County School District has more than 24,000 students who attend five high schools, four middle schools, ten elementary schools, three K-8 schools, one alternative school, and three charter schools. The district provides bus transportation for these schools, with bus drivers generally required to obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate the bus.
However, school districts throughout Florida have been experienced historic bus driver shortages, forcing the districts to offer incentives such as sign-on bonuses to attract enough drivers to run all routes. This policy places many new and inexperienced bus drivers behind the wheel, where they must learn routes quickly while also managing buses that are often more crowded due to the consolidation of certain routes.
The bus provides four fixed bus routes throughout the county for the public. These buses are also significantly larger and heavier than other types of vehicle traffic. Transit bus drivers are also required to obtain a CDL to show that they understand the basic skills involved in operating the vehicle and learning routes and procedures to keep passengers safe.
Additionally, drivers must assist riders in transporting their bikes and belongings and ensure the aisles of the bus are free of hazards that can cause injuries to passengers. All these tasks are combined with navigating a bus through roadways that are often congested with vehicles being operated by speeding, distracted, or even impaired drivers.
Some of the common causes of bus accidents include:
- Inexperienced drivers who do not know how to operate the bus safely or are unfamiliar with the route or roadway
- Driver fatigue can occur when the driver has been working many hours, has gone multiple days without a full night’s rest, or has a medical condition such as sleep apnea that impacts the quality of sleep they’re getting.
- Inclement weather can reduce the driver’s visibility.
- Defects on the bus that occur due to negligence on the part of the carrier
- Bus driver distractions include unruly passengers, eating or drinking, and texting.
- The negligent actions of other drivers, including distracted driving, speeding, or alcohol impairment
The Difficulties In Operating a Bus
Bus drivers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This special driver’s license signifies that the driver has learned the basics of operating the vehicle safely and shows that they are physically fit for the job and have passed a drug and alcohol screening.
The requirement of the CDL is based on the vehicle’s size. School buses can weigh up to 36,000 pounds when fully loaded and tend to be around 35 feet long. Transit buses can be up to 42 feet long, typically weighing around 40,000 pounds.
The massive size of the vehicle creates maneuverability concerns, including:
- An increased stopping distance. Braking is a process in which the driver perceives a hazard, responds to that hazard by pressing on the brakes, and the brakes go to work to pull the vehicle’s weight to a complete stop. The heavier the vehicle is, the more stopping distance it will require.
- Wide turns. Long vehicles generally have difficulty navigating sharp turns, requiring the driver to switch the vehicle into a neighboring lane to complete the turn.
- An increased risk of rolling over. Buses are tall, narrow vehicles with a high center of gravity, making them more likely to roll over when negotiating sharp corners and curves or swerving to avoid an accident.
Additional risks facing other roadway users when encountering a bus is that they make frequent stops. Drivers unaware of this can be taken by surprise or even rear-end the bus if they’re not paying attention when it stops.
Sources of Liability in Bus Accidents
When a bus crash occurs, there is much discussion about who was liable for the accident, and for a good reason. The liable party is responsible for compensating the expenses and impacts that others incur due to their recklessness.
Bus drivers, even when at fault for causing the accident, are generally not the liable party, as a company, transit authority, or school district employs them. These entities are all considered common carriers, as they provide transportation for the public on regularly scheduled routes.
The bus driver’s employer ensures that the driver is qualified. They must also commit to a regular maintenance schedule to keep it running safely and prevent the risk of an accident resulting from a defect such as a blown tire or the loss of brakes.
Carriers are also responsible for several other issues regarding the safety of riders, including taking reasonable actions to protect them from injuries at the bus station, stop, or on the bus.
Of course, not all bus accidents result from driver negligence. Many bus accidents are caused by the carelessness or recklessness of other drivers, such as drivers who fail to stop when the school bus has its stop arm extended and lights flashing, drivers who tailgate the bus or drive while distracted, or even those who cut into a travel lane in front of a bus.
Are Bus Accidents Common?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the federal agency tasked with regulating and overseeing bus transportation in the U.S.—there are more than a million registered buses in the U.S.
Except in 2020, when pandemic restrictions profoundly impacted bus service, there are at least 13,000 bus accidents in the U.S. each year. Of these accidents, approximately 39 percent involve school buses, 35 percent involve transit buses, and around 11 percent involve intercity buses such as Greyhound.
Who Is Most Likely to Be Injured in a Bus Accident?
When school bus accidents occur, those most likely to sustain injuries or die often occupy much smaller vehicles. Several thousand school bus passengers also sustain injuries in accidents each year, and—less frequently—school bus drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists can also be injured.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Spring Hill Bus Accident
Bus accidents are often headline news due to the number of people traveling on the bus at any given time and the injuries they sustain. If a bus accident injured you, speak with an experienced bus accident lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We can pursue your bus accident claim for you.
Five Reasons Why You Need an Attorney for a Bus Accident
People often balk at hiring an attorney to assist them with a personal injury claim because they don’t think they can afford one. However, these attorneys use a contingent fee billing method to ensure that anyone needing their services has access.
This payment method allows clients to hire an attorney without any upfront costs, and they only pay for their legal services if the attorney recovers compensation for their claim.
Here is a look at five top reasons why you need an attorney to help you seek compensation after you’ve been injured in a Spring Hill bus accident.
- The company that employs the driver holds much of the evidence for your claim. The federal government regulates buses, placing many requirements on bus drivers and the companies, agencies, or districts that hire them. These requirements include regular drug and alcohol screenings and physicals for drivers, the provision of an increased amount of insurance, a regular maintenance schedule to repair parts of the bus prone to excessive wear due to the weight of the vehicle and the miles it travels, a reduced legal impairment limit for drivers, and much more. The bus driver’s employer has these documents, and an experienced Spring Hill personal injury attorney from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, knows how to obtain them and use them to prove their client’s claim.
- Common carriers generally have high-powered insurance providers. Those providers will be looking for ways to reduce or even eliminate the claim, and you can bet that they have their legal counsel to assist them with this. Personal injury claimants who attempt to seek compensation after a bus accident without the assistance of an attorney often find that they’re the only ones in the equation who don’t have an attorney. It places them at a distinct disadvantage.
- An attorney understands the pitfalls that can reduce the value of the claim, such as a claims adjuster from the insurance company offering a claimant without an attorney a ridiculously low settlement and telling them that it’s the maximum amount of compensation available for their claim and that they must accept the offer immediately or lose all compensation, or the disastrous effects that missing the personal injury statute of limitations for filing a claim can have on the ability to obtain compensation.
- An attorney has a legal team to assist with the legwork involved in proving the claim. The amount of medical and evidentiary documentation required to prove a claim can be daunting to those who haven’t obtained ample education and experience in the law. Claimants often need to be made aware of the type of documentation they need and how to obtain it.
- An attorney will assist the claimant in obtaining compensation and satisfying medical liens that have been placed on the award by healthcare providers who provided treatment that they have yet to be paid for or health insurance providers who offered insurance coverage for the accident and want to recoup their costs.
An experienced Spring Hill bus accident lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can provide several services to assist with the claim while also offering the guidance and information the claimant needs to make important decisions about their case, such as deciding to file a lawsuit or to accept a settlement.
Most bus accident claims resolve through settlement agreements. However, if the insurance company fails to make an offer that reasonably compensates the claimant for their expenses and impacts, having an attorney ready to go to court and fight for that fair compensation is a powerful resource.
Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, for a free case evaluation and learn more about your right to recover compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spring Hill Bus Accident Claims
With the federal regulations imposed on common carriers, seeking compensation after a bus accident can become incredibly complex. Here are some answers our legal team is often asked about seeking compensation through Florida’s bus accident claims process.
What Types of Federal Requirements Can Cause a Bus Company to Be Liable for an Accident?
As explained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the federal agency tasked with regulating and overseeing the commercial transport of people and goods in the U.S.—several factors determine the regulations that apply to passenger carriers.
- Passenger carriers are considered to be engaging in interstate commerce if they transport passengers across state lines or from the U.S. to another country.
- For-hire carriers are those that receive compensation for transporting passengers. They are required to secure FMCSA operating authority registration and obtain the required level of insurance, which is $1.5 million for vehicles operating with fewer than 15 passengers, including the driver, and $5 million for carriers operating buses with 16 or more passengers. The carrier must also designate a process agent, a company representative who can receive legal papers on behalf of the carrier for legal action taken against it.
Carriers providing transport on buses designed for 16 or more passengers or in vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds must use drivers who have obtained a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
This particular license requires the driver to be tested on the basic skills needed for the safe operation of the vehicle and conveys several driver requirements, including:
- Regular health screenings to ensure the driver is physically able to handle the position’s tasks, as well as random drug and alcohol screenings.
- A reduced legal impairment limit of .04 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood—half the impairment limit of most other drivers over 21.
- Electronic logging of the driver’s on-duty hours to ensure compliance with hours of service regulations that control how long a driver can work before taking an off-duty break.
- Pre-trip inspections before every trip in search of visible signs of wear that could compromise the vehicle’s safety.
- Updated copies of the driver’s driving history to be retained in their personnel file.
Common carriers are also required to commit to a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that all bus systems are running properly and the bus is safe to operate on public roadways.
Who Is Eligible to Use the Personal Injury Claims Process After an Accident Involving a Bus?
Accidents involving buses can feature a wide variety of circumstances.
You can generally seek compensation for your bus accident if:
- You are a bus driver or passenger injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another roadway user.
- You are a bus passenger injured as a result of the bus driver’s negligence or negligence by the carrier.
- You are another roadway user—such as the occupant of another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist—injured due to the bus driver’s negligence.
How Do I Know Who Was Liable for the Spring Hill Bus Accident That Caused My Injury?
Liability refers to who has the legal responsibility to compensate those harmed due to negligence leading to a bus accident.
In bus accident claims, the elements needed to prove liability include:
- The at-fault party had the duty to take reasonable actions in a given circumstance to avoid causing injuries to others.
- A breach of this duty resulted from the at-fault party taking reckless or careless actions.
- This breach resulted in a Spring Hill bus-involved accident in which you were injured. Your injury resulted in expenses and impacts.
The company, agency, or district that provides transportation services on the bus is generally liable for the actions of their drivers. They are tasked with maintaining insurance on the bus, vetting applicants who apply for driving positions with the carrier, and ensuring that the hired drivers are properly licensed and trained.
My Child Was Injured in a Spring Hill Bus Accident. Can They File a Lawsuit?
Because children under 18 cannot enter into contracts or file legal claims, they cannot seek compensation through the personal injury claims process on their own. However, their parents can file the claim on their behalf, or they can file it themselves once they reach the age of majority.
When claims are filed on behalf of a minor by their parent or guardian, generally, any settlements resulting from the claim will require court approval to ensure that they’re in the best interests of the child. An experienced Spring Hill bus accident lawyer can help you understand how claiming compensation for a child works.
What Can I Seek Compensation for After a Bus Accident?
Individuals who have been injured as a result of a Spring Hill bus accident can seek compensation for the expenses of their injury, known in the legal arena as recovering economic damages, as well as the psychological impacts they incurred due to the injury, known as recovering non-economic damages.
Some examples of the types of expenses and impacts commonly included in bus accident damage claims are:
- All medical expenses associated with medically treating injuries incurred in the accident.
- Wage loss for the time following the accident when the claimant was too injured to work.
- Future lost earnings if the claimant incurs disabilities due to the accident that will permanently impair their earning capacity.
- Property damage incurred in the accident, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the claimant’s vehicle if the accident involved a collision with a bus.
- Physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life, resulting from the severity of the injuries.
How Long Do I Have to File a Bus Accident Claim in Spring Hill?
The statute of limitations for most Spring Hill bus accident claimants is four years from the injury’s date. In some circumstances, this time limit can be extended, such as when the claim involves injuries to a minor child. However, your ability to receive compensation for your claim depends largely on your ability to file a lawsuit within this period. Failing to meet the statute of limitations will almost always bar you from using the court process when seeking compensation for your injury.
Although settlement agreements, not litigation, will resolve the vast majority of bus accident claims, if you no longer can litigate the case, the at-fault party’s insurance provider does not have much reason to offer to settle the claim out of court. They no longer face legal consequences for not resolving the case.
Is Compensation Available for Me if I Lost a Loved One in a Bus Accident?
The family members of those who are killed in bus accidents caused by another’s negligence can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their loss through Florida’s wrongful death claims process.
Wrongful death claims are similar in procedure to personal injury claims, first featuring a claim made to the at-fault party’s insurance provider, with the ability to also file the claim as a lawsuit if the insurance provider fails to fairly compensate the claim.
However, in the wrongful death claims process, the claim must be filed by an administrator (executor) of the deceased’s estate rather than directly by family members. To ensure that the evidence and witness recollections in such cases are fresh, wrongful death claims generally carry a statute of limitations of two years from the date of death.
The types of compensation that can be sought on behalf of the deceased’s family members and estate through a wrongful death claim include:
- The deceased’s final medical expenses and funeral, burial, or cremation costs.
- The loss of services and support the deceased provides to their family members.
- The loss of companionship, comfort, protection, and guidance offered by the deceased to their loved ones.
- Mental pain and suffering experienced by the deceased’s loved ones.
- The loss of wages and other earnings from the date of the accident until the deceased’s death.
- The loss of wages and benefits that the deceased would have likely earned in their career if they had survived their injury.
I Was Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident on the Bus. Can I Seek Compensation?
Common carriers are required not only to ensure that their buses are well maintained and operated by qualified drivers but also that they are free of hazards such as cluttered aisles that could cause injuries to riders. If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident on a bus, our personal injury lawyer can explore your legal options with you for seeking compensation from the carrier.
Do I Have to Have an Attorney to Assist Me With My Bus Accident Claim?
The experience and knowledge that an attorney has to offer are crucial to the ability to obtain compensation after a bus accident. Bus accidents commonly feature multiple injured parties who will all be seeking compensation from the limited amount available through the carrier or at-fault party’s insurance policy.
These cases often involve an extensive amount of evidence held by the carrier that must be preserved as quickly as possible to be used to prove the claim. Insurance companies that provide coverage to common carriers have legal counsel to help them avoid large payouts.
Claimants who go up against these companies without their own legal counsel are at a major disadvantage. A significant amount of documentation is needed to justify the claim’s value. An experienced bus accident lawyer has a legal team to assist with gathering this documentation.
How Do I Afford an Experienced Spring Hill Bus Accident Lawyer?
Many people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence fail to hire an attorney to assist them with their claim because they don’t think they can afford one. However, this simply isn’t true. The way personal injury lawyers bill for their services, anyone who needs their assistance has access to it, regardless of their financial status at the time of the claim.
Here is how the contingent fee billing method works:
- After attending a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney, you decide to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim.
- The attorney asks you to sign a contingent fee agreement. This agreement details the type of services your lawyer will provide and designates a percentage of any compensation received for your claim to pay for your legal team’s services.
- Because you are not required to come up with an upfront retainer to obtain the help of a lawyer, work can begin on your case immediately. You will not be billed for the work done by your lawyer and legal team while the case is active.
- After the claim, your attorney will receive your compensation through a negotiated settlement or court decision. The funds will be placed in a trust. From that trust, the attorney will satisfy any medical liens placed on the award. They will also withdraw the agreed-on percentage for their payment.
- The attorney will meet with you to finalize the case, and the remainder of the proceeds will be turned over to you.
Contact our Spring Hill Bus Accident Attorneys Today
Let our experienced Spring Hill bus accident lawyer answer your specific questions about your claim. You can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, by calling us at our Spring Hill office at (352) 612-3437 or by using our online contact form.