Relative to other forms of ground transportation, buses are safe, but accidents still happen. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 15,000 bus accidents resulting in injury occur on the nation’s roads each year. Over the last decade or so, school buses and transit buses account for about a third of all fatal crashes, with intercity buses being the safest—city bus accidents only accounting for 13 percent. When a bus accident occurs because of another party’s negligence, California law entitles victims to seek damages in civil court.
The San Jose bus accident attorneys at Golden State Lawyers have helped injured clients recover millions of dollars through skilled negotiations and diligent trial advocacy. We offer personalized attention and exceptional legal representation throughout the legal process.
All of our esteemed attorneys are AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® and focus exclusively on personal injury cases. If you were severely injured in a bus or streetcar accident, you deserve a San Jose bus accident lawyer with the highest standards for ethics and professionalism. Contact Golden State Lawyers at (408) 279-4222 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case with one of our San Jose bus accident lawyers.
Causes of San Jose Bus Injuries and Accidents
A wide array of scenarios might lead to a bus accident that results in injury and the need for a San Jose bus lawyer. Some common examples include:
- A road hazard causes the driver to make an abrupt adjustment.
- A distracted bus driver crashes into an object or another vehicle.
- A drowsy bus driver falls asleep at the wheel.
- An inexperienced driver loses control of the bus.
- Another motor vehicle crashes into a bus.
- A driver who is impaired by prescription medication, drugs, or alcohol causes an accident.
- A pedestrian or bicyclist walks or rides in a driver’s blind spot.
- Poor maintenance leads to a malfunction that results in an accident.
Common San Jose Bus Injuries
A bus accident might cause a variety of injuries for passengers, people in other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians who were involved. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Fractured bones - The impact of an accident might lead to one or more broken bones. Recovery might take months and require a cast and crutches. When victims sustain multiple fractures, healing takes much longer and might even require surgery.
- Head traumas - Head injuries can occur from direct impact, but even jarring of the head might also cause trauma. In either case, victims may experience a mild to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mild TBIs, typically referred to as concussions, heal quickly in most cases, but more severe brain injuries might cause a victim lifelong complications.
- Lacerations - During a bus accident, deep cuts might occur. Not only are they painful, but they can lead to permanent scars.
- Neck injuries - The most common neck injury in motor vehicle accidents, including bus accidents, is whiplash, which is soft-tissue damage in the neck. Impact from a collision causes a person’s neck to abruptly move back and forth like a whip.
- Back injuries - The impact from a bus accident could also lead to back injuries that include cracked vertebrae, herniated discs, and other painful injuries that require extensive recovery time and sometimes surgery.
- Spinal cord injuries - A person’s spinal cord is one of the most delicate organs in their body. If a bus accident results in a spinal cord injury, victims might experience temporary or permanent paralysis in one or more parts of the body.
- Internal bleeding and organ damage - Internal injuries are one of the reasons that bus accident victims need to seek immediate medical attention even if they don’t have visible injuries. The impact from a crash might lead to broken ribs that puncture organs, or the trauma might cause rupture or separation. These kinds of injuries are often life-threatening or may result in lifelong complications.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Surviving a severe bus accident might lead to mental anguish after the accident. Similarly, those who see another person injured or killed in a bus accident might also suffer the emotional consequences. Although symptoms vary, those who suffer psychological challenges after a bus accident might have PTSD.
Bus Drivers and Other Common Carriers Owe You a Heightened Duty of Care
Under California law, buses belong to a category of transporters called common carriers because they transport people for a fee. Vehicles that qualify as common carriers have a heightened duty of care to their passengers. All motorists have a duty to others on the road to obey traffic laws such as using turn signals and driving the speed limit, but California common carrier law places specific requirements on common carrier drivers. When common carrier drivers and companies fail to uphold that standard, a California court can find them negligent and award damages to victims. California common carrier law specifically states the following:
- A common carrier must use the “utmost care and diligence” to safely transport passengers, must provide needs for that safe passage, and must have a reasonable degree of skill to ensure safe carriage.
- A common carrier must provide safe and appropriate vehicles; malfunction does not excuse a failure to meet the required standards of care.
- Common carriers may not overcrowd or overload vehicles.
- Common carriers must provide usual and reasonable accommodations, treat passengers with civility, and give them a reasonable amount of attention.
- Common carriers must travel at appropriate speeds, without delay or deviation from a proper route.
Recovering Damages After a San Jose Bus or Streetcar Accident
In the event that you have been injured in a city bus accident, school bus accident, or streetcar accident, you might be eligible to recover damages related to loss from your injuries. A qualified school bus accident lawyer, public transit accident lawyer, bus accident lawyer, or streetcar accident lawyer will guide you through the legal process. If a California court rules in your favor, you can claim the following damages for your injuries:
- Cost of past and future medical treatment including ambulance services, emergency department visit, surgery, hospitalization, x-rays, medications, and more
- Lost wages due to time away from work as a result of injury and/or hospitalization
- Lost earning capacity when a severe injury or permanent disability prevents a victim from returning to the type of work they enjoyed before or pursue certain kinds of employment
- Non-economic costs including pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional distress or others that apply to a specific case
In the event that you have lost a loved one in a city bus accident or trolley accident, you need to contact a San Jose bus accident attorney to find out your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim against the liable party. You may recover some of the aforementioned damages as well as burial costs and funeral expenses. One of our San Jose bus accident attorneys will advise you on the best course of action for you and other surviving family members.
Time Limit to File a Claim Against a Bus or Trolley Company
California has a two-year statute of limitations after the date of the accident to bring suit against the responsible party. These suits often involve the driver and their employer as well as the company’s insurance carrier. When the responsible party is a government entity those injured must take legal action within six months. If you are unsure which time fThe teame applies to your case, our San Jose bus accident attorneys can advise you how long you have to take legal action. Failure to file a claim or bring a lawsuit within the appropriate time fThe teame might result in waiving your right to recover damages related to your injuries.
The following is a list of Bay Area transporters that might be liable for your bus, trolley or other common carrier accident:
- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
- Greyhound Lines
- Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH)
- Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
- Capitol Corridor
- San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) including SF Muni
San Jose Bus Accident FAQs
While bus transportation is generally relatively safe, collisions certainly do happen. When they do, people get hurt. If you sustained injuries in a bus crash, you probably have many questions and concerns. Below are some frequently asked questions that our legal team hears from those hurt or families of those killed in bus collisions. To discuss your specific circumstances, please contact us directly.
Who might have a San Jose bus accident case?
For obvious reasons, bus collisions often involve more people than accidents involving private vehicles.
People who may file a claim after a bus accident include:
- Other motorists;
- Bus passengers;
- Loved ones of people who lost their lives in a bus incident.
Many people are confused about how liability works in a bus accident. For example, if you are a passenger during a bus accident with another vehicle and suffer injuries, you may wonder whether you can file a claim against the bus company or the other driver or both.
The answer is that bus collisions work like any other accident and that injured people can file a claim against any at-fault party. That said, in bus collision cases, there may be multiple at-fault parties, so it’s in your best interest to explore your options with an experienced San Jose bus accident lawyer.
Who is liable for your San Jose bus accident and injuries?
Bus crash victims can hold all at-fault parties accountable for their losses. You want an experienced attorney reviewing what happened and identifying all responsible parties as there might be more than one.
Some parties that might be responsible for your losses include:
- Bus drivers - If a bus driver acted in any way negligently, they might be responsible for the harm they caused. Negligence can include distracted, drowsy, or impaired driving, as well as violating any traffic laws or regulations.
- Bus companies - Companies can be held to be responsible for the acts of their employees - including drivers. In addition, bus companies might be negligent themselves for negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of drivers, or for failing to maintain buses in proper working order.
- Other drivers - Your bus collision might have happened because a driver in another vehicle was negligent and caused the crash.
- Manufacturers - If the bus crashed due to defective brakes, poorly manufactured tires, or other failing parts, the manufacturer of that part might be held responsible for the damages caused.
Some cases involve one insurance claim while others might require multiple claims with multiple insurers. You want a lawyer who knows how to handle complex claims when needed.
What about accidents involving VTA buses?
If you were in an accident with a Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus, you may wonder how it may affect your case that the government entity was in charge of operating the bus in your collision.
While it is certainly possible to bring a claim after a collision caused by a VTA bus driver, you only have six months from the date of your collision to file a claim, rather than the usual two years. This is because the California Tort Claims Act governs claims against California agencies and governmental departments. Cases against public entities have special claims requirements and a differently calculated statute of limitations than normally applicable to claims against private parties.
What should I do after a San Jose bus accident?
After a crash occurs, life can seem chaotic. However, keep several things in mind when it comes to what you should do to protect your rights.
Some steps you should take include:
- Keep up with medical treatment - Getting your initial diagnosis after a bus collision is essential; but, this is only the beginning of the treatment process. Your doctor and medical team should design a treatment plan for your maximum recovery. You should follow this plan. Failing to do so can delay your healing, and might lead to reduced financial recovery if the insurance company believes your injuries are not as serious as you allege.
- Watch what you say about the collision - Many people might want to take to social media and rant about the bus crash and their related injuries. In addition, if an insurance company contacts you for a recorded statement, you might believe it is harmless to tell them exactly how you feel about what happened. Taking these actions is rarely helpful. Insurance companies are looking for anything to limit your financial recovery, and seemingly harmless or offhand statements can jeopardize your claim. Stay off social media and do not speak with insurance adjusters in detail following your bus crash.
- Seek legal representation - While it might not be wise for you to speak with insurers, someone needs to be filing your claim and communicating with the proper insurance companies. You want a San Jose bus accident attorney to handle all communications and every step of the process for you. The earlier you consult with a lawyer, the sooner the process of protecting your rights to a fair recovery can begin.
How much compensation can San Jose bus accident victims recover?
Bus crash victims are typically entitled to compensation for both their economic and non-economic losses. In many cases, injured people pursue damages for their medical expenses, lost income, lost quality of life, physical and emotional pain and suffering, property damage, and other types of losses they suffer. The amount of compensation you can recover after a bus accident will depend on the seriousness of your injuries, whether you will have to miss work, whether you will have any long-term complications or disabilities, and your prognosis.
Who is the right San Jose bus accident lawyer for you?
If you suffered injuries in a bus crash, look no further than the law firm of Golden State Lawyers, APC for help. Our legal team has experience handling high-value, high-profile injury and death cases. We know how to - and will - stand up and fight for your rights. We work on a contingency fee basis which means that you never pay anything upfront and we only receive fees when you win your case.
Contact a San Jose Bus Accident Lawyer Today
Our San Jose bus accident attorneys advocate for people injured throughout California and the Bay Area, including San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, San Francisco, and the surrounding communities. You deserve full and fair compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial aftermath of the accident. If you sustained a severe injury because of a negligent common carrier, we can help you recover compensation for damages related to the accident.
The San Jose bus accident lawyers at Golden State Lawyers are here to listen to your story, provide legal counsel, and pursue the best possible outcome for your case. We offer free consultations to all potential clients and operate on a contingency fee basis, only collecting attorney fees if we secure a financial recovery for you. Our San Jose bus accident lawyers will gladly meet you in your home or hospital if your injury prevents you from traveling. We proudly serve citizens throughout the Bay area and California. Contact Golden State Lawyers online or call (408) 279-4222 today to schedule a free consultation with a San Jose bus accident lawyer.