The Reno-Sparks area is well-served by public transportation, and the tourist areas of Reno frequently see charter and group buses discharge and pick up sight-seeing passengers. From the strip to the school districts, buses are an integral part of our area. But what happens if a bus is involved in an accident? We have to look no further than two recent examples. In the mining area near Carlin, Nevada, a head-on collision between a semi-truck and a bus carrying miners to work killed one of the miners and the truck’s driver several weeks ago. Two-thirds of the bus’s passengers were sent to the hospital, with six victims injured seriously enough to be transported to larger hospitals in Reno and Salt Lake City. Closer to home, a motorcyclist who recently collided with a Washoe County school bus died instantly. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, call the experienced Reno Bus Accident Lawyer at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers for a consultation. We have the resources to investigate the causes of the accident, obtain expert testimony if required, and give you advice on your case.
Tragic as they are, both of these accidents illustrate the nature of bus crashes, whether they are public transport, tourist, or school buses. First, buses are large and heavy, so any collision with them can be severely injurious and possibly fatal. This is true whether the other party in the collision is another bus, a truck, a car, a motorcycle, a bicycle, or a pedestrian. Second, buses often carry many people. A crash involving a bus thus has the potential to injure or cause multiple fatalities.
Nationwide, 230 buses were in fatal crashes in one recent year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), while roughly 15,000 were in crashes that caused injuries. While that’s a relatively small percentage of the total crashes in the United States, bus accidents in the Reno area can still cause death, significant injury, and harm.
Nevada tour buses, in particular, have caused fatal crashes. Reno area RTC buses, school buses, tour buses to Lake Tahoe and buses transporting workers to job sites have also crashed and caused serious injuries. The threat of a bus accident in the Reno/Sparks/Lake Tahoe Region, in other words, is all too real.
Bus accidents can have multiple causes. Driver error, such as failure to yield right of way or improper turning, is one potential cause.
But the conditions of the bus itself can also cause an accident. Companies that own and operate the buses are responsible for maintaining them in a safe condition. Buses should be inspected regularly, and anything requiring attention or repair should be addressed. If maintenance or poor repair has caused or contributed to an accident, such as poor brakes or blown tires, the company responsible for maintenance, repair, and inspection is responsible in the event of an accident.
Bus drivers also must be properly trained and licensed. In Nevada, they need to have a commercial driver’s license, which requires certain types of testing and training. If they are not properly licensed, the company that hired them may be at fault. If a bus accident occurs because of a faulty or defective part or component, the manufacturer or repair facility may be to blame.
Other parties can also be responsible for accidents involving a bus. Driver error on the part of other vehicles can cause bus crashes. Even pedestrians may partially bear responsibility for being hit by a bus, counterintuitive as that may seem. In Nevada, pedestrians are legally required to give right-of-way to vehicles in areas other than crosswalks and intersections, although drivers also need to give due care to pedestrians.
Finally, Nevada as a whole has a high proportion of accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol (roughly a third of all types of fatal traffic accidents). Alcohol or other substances may play a role in bus accidents as well, and if so, the consumer of the substances may bear whole or partial responsibility.
Because responsibility in a bus accident can be complex, it is sometimes necessary to investigate the causes of an accident. Police reports, witness statements, bus company and other records, surveillance footage, and forensic analysis of the crash scene can all be used in an investigation.
If you’re in a bus accident in Reno, move to safety as soon as you can.
If anyone needs emergency medical attention, call 911 or ask a bystander to call.
Stay on the scene until first responders arrive. It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident in Nevada. Answer police officers’ questions, and take EMTs’ advice about whether you should go to the emergency room.
Collect contact and insurance information from the bus driver and any other driver involved in the crash. If bystanders witnessed the accident, get their names and contact information, too.
If you have a smartphone and can do so safely, take pictures of the accident scene, including vehicles, road conditions, the surrounding area, and any signs of how the accident occurred (such as damaged sidewalks, damaged stop signs, skid marks).
Once law enforcement indicates that you can leave, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Either go to an emergency room or your doctor. Don’t neglect this step, even if you don’t feel injured; only a doctor can diagnose thoroughly whether you have any injuries after an accident.
Follow all medical advice and keep all records of medical treatment. It’s important for your recovery, and it’s also excellent evidence if you need to seek compensation.
Liability in a bus accident depends on who or what caused the crash. If bus driver error caused the accident, the driver can be liable for injuries and damages. Drivers will generally pay damages through insurance companies. Nevada is an at-fault state, where responsible drivers pay for damages; therefore, if drivers of other vehicles were responsible, they will also pay damages, likely through insurance companies.
If a company or manufacturer or other entity caused your accident, that entity may be liable. Liability depends on responsibility and considers the potential of negligence. Drivers, companies, and manufacturers all owe a duty of care to people on the roadways and other areas. Drivers need to operate their vehicles safely and in accordance with traffic and other laws. Companies and manufacturers need to make sure that the vehicles are safe, well-maintained, and free of defect. If they find a problem, they need to fix it as promptly as possible. Companies and manufacturers also need to exercise reasonable care to determine if any safety problems exist, such as performing regular inspection and maintenance. Companies should also take care that drivers are trained and appropriately licensed.
If any of these parties don’t exercise their duty of care, or don’t fix problems within a reasonable amount of time, a court may determine that they breached the duty of ordinary care. If so, the court can find them negligent and thus responsible for damages that stem from the accident.
Depending on the circumstances, individuals injured in bus accidents are eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, rehabilitative therapy, and loss of wages from work. They may also receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.
It’s only natural for victims of any vehicle accident to wonder if they can receive compensation for injuries—perhaps particularly so for victims of bus accidents. Buses are much larger than other vehicles on the road, which increases the chance that a collision, whether with another vehicle or a pedestrian, will cause severe injury or death.
To receive compensation for a bus accident, a lawyer representing you must prove that:
Armed with this evidence, your lawyer may seek compensation on your behalf by demanding payment from the at-fault party’s liability insurance carrier and/or by filing a Reno bus accident lawsuit in civil court. There is no guarantee these efforts will succeed. However, by hiring an experienced Reno bus accident injury attorney, you can give yourself the strongest possible chance of achieving a favorable financial outcome in your case.
Yes. As long as your injuries stem from an accident someone else caused, you can seek compensation for time off work resulting from the accident.
You may also have the right to seek compensation for:
Again, we caution that there is no guarantee of recovering compensation. However, putting your case in the hands of an experienced Reno bus accident injury lawyer gives you the best chance of success.
Bus accidents often require investigation to determine their cause. Typically, law enforcement will conduct the first investigation of the causes of a Reno bus accident. After the investigation, police issue an accident report detailing their findings. Experienced lawyers for Reno bus accident victims will often use that report as the jumping-off point for their own examination of the causes of an accident.
Lawyers do not necessarily accept the police report’s findings. Often, a more thorough investigation will turn up other facts and evidence pointing to additional or less-obvious causes of the accident.
For that reason, skilled attorneys often do their own digging, sometimes aided by a professional accident investigator they hire, to uncover evidence that sheds light on an accident’s causes. For example, a lawyer and investigator may conduct a thorough inspection of the bus to assess whether mechanical issues contributed to a crash. Or, they may subpoena cell phone or GPS data to determine if driver distraction played a role.
Lawyers analyze the evidence to identify all parties who may have a legal liability to a Reno bus accident victim so that they can pursue those parties for compensation on their client’s behalf.
Have you or has a friend or family member been injured in a Reno bus accident? Let the experienced attorneys at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers advocate on your behalf. We work with investigators and expert witnesses to secure compensation for the full cost of your injuries, either from insurance companies or through litigation. We also serve clients in Lake Tahoe, Sparks, and Carson City.
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