Unclear Liability in Bus Accidents

May 23


Peter Kent

Peter Kent

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Buses are often considered a safer mode of transportation compared to cars, but accidents still occur, sometimes with fatal consequences. The complexity of determining liability in bus accidents is compounded by varying state laws and regulations. This article delves into the intricacies of bus accident liability, the role of seat belts, and what steps to take if you find yourself involved in such an incident.


While buses are generally perceived as a safer alternative to cars,Unclear Liability in Bus Accidents Articles accidents involving buses can still result in severe injuries or fatalities. The ambiguity surrounding liability in bus accidents is exacerbated by differing state laws and regulations. This article explores the factors contributing to bus accidents, the role of seat belts, and the steps to take if you are involved in a bus accident. Additionally, it highlights the importance of seeking legal counsel to navigate the complexities of bus accident liability.

The Safety of Buses: A Double-Edged Sword

Buses are often seen as a safer option for travel due to their size and the perception that they are less likely to be involved in severe accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), buses account for a small percentage of traffic fatalities. Between 2009 and 2018, there were an average of 63 bus-related fatalities per year in the United States, compared to over 36,000 fatalities involving passenger vehicles in 2018 alone (NHTSA).

However, the absence of seat belts in many buses raises concerns. A study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that seat belts could significantly reduce the risk of injury and death in bus accidents. Despite this, only eight states currently require seat belts on school buses (NTSB).

Recent Bus Accidents: A Stark Reminder

Recent incidents highlight the ongoing risks associated with bus travel. In the past week alone, school bus accidents in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin have resulted in multiple injuries. Public transportation buses are not immune either; a woman in Washington, D.C., was fatally struck by a Metro bus, marking the fifth bus-related fatality in the area within eight months.

Statistics on Bus Accidents

  • Fatalities: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 5,212 deaths in 2005 due to crashes involving large trucks and buses (FMCSA).
  • Injuries: The same year saw 91,824 injuries resulting from such crashes.

Determining Fault in Bus Accidents

The Role of the Bus Driver

Bus drivers are expected to undergo rigorous training and adhere to strict safety standards. However, determining fault in bus accidents is not always straightforward. State and federal laws vary, and the involvement of insurance companies and contractors can further complicate matters.

Common Carriers and Legal Implications

A "common carrier" is defined as an entity that transports people or goods for compensation and is open to the public. Common carriers, including commercial bus companies, are subject to both federal and state regulations. These regulations mandate that drivers receive adequate training and that vehicles are properly maintained. Consequently, bus drivers and companies can be held to high standards of accountability.

However, the legal landscape varies significantly from state to state. For instance, California has stringent regulations for common carriers, while other states may have more lenient laws. This variability underscores the importance of consulting an experienced attorney familiar with the specific laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

Steps to Take After a Bus Accident

If you are involved in a bus accident, taking the following steps can help protect your rights and ensure you receive appropriate compensation:

  1. Report the Accident: If law enforcement is not present, file an accident report with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol.
  2. Gather Information: Collect the names, addresses, insurance details, vehicle license numbers, and driver's license numbers of all parties involved. Also, obtain contact information for any witnesses.
  3. Document the Scene: Take photographs of the vehicles, any injuries, and the accident scene.
  4. Limit Discussions: Do not discuss the accident or your injuries with anyone other than your doctor or lawyer.
  5. Avoid Signing Documents: Do not agree to make a recorded statement or sign any documents without consulting your lawyer.
  6. Seek Medical Attention: Immediately seek medical treatment and inform your doctor about how the injury occurred and any pain you are experiencing.

The Importance of Legal Counsel

Navigating the complexities of bus accident liability can be challenging. An experienced bus or auto accident attorney can provide invaluable guidance. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bus accident and believe another party may be at fault, it is crucial to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

For more information on bus safety and regulations, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

By understanding the complexities of bus accident liability and taking appropriate steps in the event of an accident, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.