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Each weekday, school buses provided by Chicago Public Schools transports around 16,000 students to school who have special needs or are participating in magnet or gifted programs and live between 1.5 and 6 miles from school. Additionally, city buses provided by the Chicago Transit Authority provide rides to around 1.6 million people a day. The city’s roadways also see bus carriers such as Greyhound and tour buses filled with travelers wishing to take in the sites around the region.
While buses provide an essential transportation option, they can also cause accidents. If you have experienced an injury in a bus accident, you can seek compensation. A Chicago bus accident lawyer from Zayed Law Offices can help you understand this process and further explain our services. Call our Chicago personal injury lawyers today for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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How Common Are Bus Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration —the federal agency tasked with overseeing and regulating the commercial trucking and transportation industry—thousands of bus accidents occur on U.S. roadways each year, resulting in thousands of injuries and more than 100 deaths. School bus accidents account for the largest share of these accidents, followed by transit buses, such as those offered by the Chicago Transit Authority. Intercity buses, such as Greyhounds, account for fewer accidents.
Who Is a Chicago Bus Accident Most Likely to Injure or Kill?
As noted by the National Safety Council, an accident involving a school bus is most likely to injure or kill the occupants of other vehicles. While pedestrians are the next most likely to die in a bus accident, the next-most likely group is the bus’s passengers. The size discrepancy between a bus and a person or passenger vehicle makes these accidents more likely to kill or injure those other than bus passengers.
Common Causes of Chicago Bus Accidents
Buses are a lot larger than other vehicles. For example, the average full-size school bus is about 45 feet long.
They are large enough to experience the same issues with maneuverability that commercial trucks do, including:
- An increased distance required to stop after the driver has noticed a hazard and braked. Because buses are heavier vehicles, it takes longer for the brakes to stop them.
- Significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle, which can cause an accident if the driver fails to ensure a travel lane is clear before turning onto or merging into it.
- A high center of gravity that can make the bus more likely than other vehicles to overturn, particularly if the driver is traveling at a high rate of speed while negotiating a curve or corner, or is attempting an emergency driving maneuver such as swerving to avoid a collision.
- Wide turns, which can involve the driver swinging the front wheels into an adjacent travel lane to complete the turn, posing a risk of having an accident for travelers in the adjacent lane.
The size of the bus is not the only hazard, however. Most bus drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and undergo training to learn how to safely and effectively drive. Human error is still the most common cause of accidents, however, and bus drivers are prone to making the same driving mistakes as others.
Examples of the type of human error that can result in a Chicago bus accident include:
- Distracted driving, which is a major source of death and injury in any type of motor vehicle. The three driver distractions include manual distractions such as the use of a handheld cell phone or another object that causes the driver to take their hands from the wheel; visual distractions, such as billboards or people in other cars that can cause the driver to take their eyes from watching the roadway; and cognitive distractions, such as visiting with a passenger that can cause the driver’s thoughts to stray from the task of save driving.
- Speeding, which includes exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for the weather and traffic conditions on the roadway. Speeding in a large vehicle such as a bus is particularly dangerous, as the vehicle is already hard to maneuver due to its size and tends to roll over.
- Impairment by drugs or alcohol. To obtain a CDL or maintain one, the driver must take annual drug and alcohol screenings. Additionally, as the holder of a CDL, a driver is subject to a lower impairment limit for alcohol than other roadway users. Despite this, many bus drivers indulge on company time, and many more are simply unaware of the intoxicating effects produced by many over-the-counter and prescription medications. While these medications are legal to take, driving is not legal if they have impaired one’s ability.
- Driver fatigue. Bus drivers often work long hours in heavy traffic and with stressful conditions capable of causing fatigue. Likewise, drivers who operate a bus at night can attribute the drowsiness they feel to the Circadian rhythm, which is the body’s instinctive urge to sleep in darkness. Extreme driver fatigue produces many of the same effects as alcohol impairment, including the inability to maintain a single lane of travel, difficulty maintaining speed, and ineffective control of the vehicle’s brakes.
- Maintenance issues and product defects on the bus. Bus carriers must perform regular maintenance on their vehicles so they operate safely, as tire blowouts, faulty brakes, and other issues can cause accidents. If a bus part failed due to a product defect, then the manufacturer or distributor of that part may need to pay for the accident.
Seeking Compensation After a Chicago Bus Accident
Many unique circumstances can result in a bus accident, so a bus accident can refer to:
- An accident involving a bus and another roadway user (such as a passenger car) caused by the bus driver’s negligence and resulted in injuries to passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- An accident involving a bus and another roadway user caused by the negligence of the driver of the other vehicle and resulted in injuries to passengers or the bus driver.
- A single-vehicle bus accident resulting from the bus driver’s liability that results in injuries to passengers or others.
- An accident occurring at the bus station or on board the bus that resulted in an injury to a passenger, such as a slip and fall accident.
Regardless of the type of accident that caused you to become injured, you can seek compensation for your injuries through Illinois’ personal injury claims process.
The Chicago Personal Injury Claims Process
A Chicago bus accident claim generally begins when your attorney submits a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. This package includes details of the claim, documentation of injuries and expenses, and a demand for payment of the listed value of the claim. Your attorney will determine the value of your claim based on the severity of your injury, the amount of work you missed due to injury, and the impact of the injury on your quality of life.
Upon receiving your demand, the at-fault party’s insurer can either pay the claim, deny the claim, or offer a settlement to resolve the claim. If they pay the claim, then your case resolves. If they deny the claim, you and your attorney will likely need to discuss the next step in the compensation process: filing your claim as a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. If the insurance provider offers you a settlement, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf to garner a higher offer.
Note that you can file your injury claim in conjunction with settlement negotiations. You can settle at any time, including after the trial starts, as long as the court has not yet reached a decision. If the insurance provider fails to settle when your trial date rolls around, your attorney can provide litigation services, including presenting your case to the court. Contact Zayed Law Offices today to get started.
Sources of Liability In A Bus Accident
Because there are many types of accidents involving buses, an attorney will need to look carefully at your claim to identify all sources of liability and all associated insurance resources to compensate you.
Some of the potential sources of liability in a bus accident claim include:
- The bus driver, whose careless or reckless actions resulted in an accident that caused someone to become hurt—such as a bus passenger, the occupant of another motor vehicle, or a roadway user such as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
- The carrier, who is tasked with hiring the bus driver and ensuring that they are properly trained to handle the rigors of the job and that the vehicle they are using is capable of safely transporting passengers. The carrier also faces liability simply because their employee caused an injury accident while on the job as a representative of their organization.
- Other roadway users whose carelessness or recklessness resulted in a bus-involved accident.
- The entity responsible for providing maintenance if the bus was committed to a regular service schedule and still suffered maintenance issues that resulted in an accident.
- The manufacturer or distributor of defective parts that failed while the bus was in operation.
Your lawyer may prove liability by showing the:
- The at-fault party had a duty to take reasonable actions to avoid causing harm to others within a given circumstance.
- A breach in this duty occurred when the at-fault party took unsafe or illegal actions.
- This breach resulted in a bus-involved accident that injured you. You incurred expenses and impacts as a result of that injury.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek After A Chicago Bus Accident
Individuals whom a Chicago bus accident injured can seek compensation for both the financial and psychological costs of their injury, including:
- All injury-related medical expenses.
- Wage loss resulting from being too injured to work.
- Loss of earning capacity due to permanent disabilities arising from the injury that will likely affect the individual’s ability to earn an income in the future.
- Property damage, such as the cost of replacing or repairing a vehicle after a bus struck it.
- Physical pain and suffering related to the injury or the treatment of it.
- Emotional distress, such as the loss of enjoyed hobbies and pastimes because of the injury.
Chicago Bus Accident? Zayed Law Offices Can Help
Bus accidents can cause some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer. If a Chicago bus accident injured you, let our Chicago bus accident lawyers explain to you the process of pursuing compensation for your injuries, answer your legal questions, and fill you in on the services available.
Get the questions you have about your accident answered for free through a no-cost case evaluation by contacting us online or calling (312) 726-1616. Contact Zayed Law Offices today so we can start you on the path toward recovery right away.
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