Bus accidents rarely garner the same media attention as train or plane accidents, even though they are usually just as dangerous and fatal. In Missouri, almost 1,000 bus accidents annually cause personal injury or death. Missouri residents trust their bus companies and bus operators to keep them safe and abide by the rules of the road. When that trust is violated, and rules are broken, the repercussions can be devastating, permanent, and deadly.
If you’ve sustained injuries in a bus accident, the Columbia bus accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. will ensure that you collect the maximum amount of financial compensation you are entitled to for your damages.
Do I Need a Columbia, MO Bus Accident Lawyer?
After being injured in a bus accident, most victims feel confused and vulnerable. After all, you were riding in a vehicle over which you had no control, and you did so under the assumption that all safety protocols would be followed. Columbia bus operators and transportation companies have strict regulations they are supposed to adhere to, but those duties are sometimes neglected–leaving victims paying the price.
Due to the massive amount of force that is generated during a bus accident, or any accident involving an oversized vehicle, victims can take several years to recover fully. Other bus accident victims can sustain permanent disabilities; in the most extreme cases, a bus accident can result in wrongful death.
The Columbia bus accident lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C. are here, so you do not have to go through the legal process alone. From the moment you start working with us, we begin on your case and do not stop until you are awarded the financial compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have overseen every kind of bus accident case and know every ploy insurance carriers use to try to devalue claims and dupe injured bus accident victims and their families into settling for far less than they are owed.
Call our law offices today and let the experienced, empathetic, and aggressive bus accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. defend your family’s future and help you move forward.
The legal process in Missouri is complicated and highly unforgiving to those who do not possess the legal background, aptitude for litigation, and trial experience of a reputable bus accident lawyer. Our firm has been standing up to insurance bullies for decades. When you sign with our Columbia bus accident legal team, we effectively manage every aspect of the legal process on your behalf.
You can rely on a proficient and practiced bus accident lawyer from Peterson & Associates, P.C. to:
- Investigate the accident scene as quickly as possible. When it comes to our clients, we can have a personal injury attorney at the location to collect evidence that is crucial to your case.
- Interview witnesses: those also involved in the bus accident or bystanders who were in the area when the accident occurred. Since buses carry multiple passengers, other people often seek answers and financial compensation. Our lawyers will officially depose every witness to your accident until we get what we need to support your case.
- Collect additional proof that supports your version of events, such as skid marks, police reports, surveillance videos, and other significant details like when the bus was last serviced. Additionally, we can find out when the bus was last inspected, how many miles the driver had driven that day, and the results of any drug tests the driver had been given.
Many factors can contribute to a bus accident, and your Peterson & Associates, P.C. bus accident lawyer will determine precisely why the incident occurred and identify the person responsible.
- Use our statewide network of medical and automotive professionals to establish liability for your injuries and calculate how much your damages are worth. You deserve every penny of what the law entitles you to, and our attorneys will use their experience and knowledge to ensure you get it.
- Stand up to insurance carriers, both big and small, that seem unbothered by your situation and are only concerned with their bottom line. We are familiar with every single stratagem, and tactic insurance providers employ to try and worm their way out of their financial obligation to their policyholders. When you hire a lawyer from our firm, you can rest assured we know every play in their bag of tricks, and they will not work.
- If the insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement, we will take your case to trial. We will use our litigation skills that have been finely tuned over the years to take your fight in front of a judge and jury to secure total and fair compensation for your losses.
Additionally, our bus accident lawyers will be available to you at all times. We will manage all of your litigation, documentation, and communication, so you can concentrate on your physical and mental recovery and on making your family whole again. We do not collect any attorney fees until your case is resolved. If you or a family member sustained a significant injury in a bus accident, contact a reliable bus accident lawyer at Peterson & Associates, P.C. today.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Missouri Bus Accidents?
Operator Inexperienced/Operator Age
Research analysis published in the Journal of Safety Research has stated that newer drivers, those 25 years old and younger, as well as drivers with lots of experience but who are 55 or older, are more likely to be driving when a bus accident occurs.
The same research said that less than 5% of bus accidents result from a major infraction, like the operator being under the influence. However, a separate study by the University of Michigan discovered that more than 30% of bus operators involved in accidents in urban areas had received citations for driving infractions, like distracted driving, speeding, or drowsy driving.
Many bus operators, particularly those who work for commercial bus companies like Greyhound, are required to drive several hundred miles in the middle of the night. This results in them becoming fatigued, nodding off, or falling asleep behind the wheel. Although similar to trucking companies, there are regulations regarding how many consecutive hours an operator can drive in a single day and how often they must take breaks. Those rules are rarely followed or enforced.
Taking into consideration a bus’ size and less-than-ideal maneuverability, icy roadways and construction zones can be hazardous for bus riders. It is not uncommon for a third party, like a construction company, to be liable or share in fault for a bus accident. A bus accident lawyer from Peterson & Associates, P.C. can determine if that is the case with your accident.
Bus Company Negligence
There are laws in place that regulate various aspects of operating a commercial bus, but they are not nearly as strict as those that govern other transportation industries. A study conducted in 2011 by the National Transportation Safety Board discovered that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration employs less than 900 people whose job is to assess and review over 765,000 motor carriers. That works out to only 1.15 inspectors for every 1,000 motor carriers.
Inspectors cannot reasonably keep pace with the number of inspections they are required to perform. Combine that with the numerous Missouri bus companies that do not adequately service and maintain their buses and you have a situation that could potentially place a lot of people in a lot of danger. Additionally, many bus companies do not do their due diligence when it comes to ensuring that their operators are suitably trained and not overworked.
Defects in the roadway and certain roadway conditions can play a significant role in a bus accident. Some examples of defective roadways commonly seen in Missouri include:
- Uneven or cracked asphalt
- Missing, broken, or defective traffic lights
- Obstacles in the roadway, like dropped cargo, wreckage from a crash, or branches
- Insufficient lighting
- Extreme grades
The longer the hazardous condition has existed on the roadway, the better your odds of successfully bringing the negligent party to account. The responsible party could be a facet of the state or local government or a third party whom the government hired to fix the dangerous condition but either failed to do so promptly did not repair it properly, or was unable to perform the task altogether.
After your diligent Columbia bus accident lawyer establishes the cause of your accident, they will be able to work out who is liable for your damages and the best way to secure you the full amount of financial compensation.
Who is Responsible for My Bus Accident Injuries?
Since many skilled people are involved in the safe operation of a bus, from parts manufacturers to training instructors, company management, and the operators themselves, you must first determine the exact cause of the accident before you can begin to decide who might share in liability. Luckily, a skilled and accomplished Columbia bus accident lawyer like the ones at Peterson & Associates, P.C. have worked with every kind of truck accident, car accident, motorcycle accident, and bus accident case imaginable and will know the most efficient way of establishing liability for your injuries.
Some examples of people who are commonly found at fault for a bus accident in Missouri include:
Commercial Bus Companies
Under Missouri law, transportation buses, like Greyhound and MegaBus, are regarded as common carriers. This means they have a duty of care to assure the well-being and safety of their patrons. That duty includes ensuring their operators are not working too many hours.
Despite its claims that passenger safety is its number one priority, a 2016 report by CNN found that Greyhound does not follow the rules regarding fatigued bus operators.
Operators must stop every 150 miles and perform a complete vehicle inspection, which is also supposed to alleviate any fatigue. This rule, however, is rarely enforced and followed even less since too many employee breaks could negatively impact the company’s bottom line. A government study completed in 2012 found that almost 40% of all commercial bus accidents resulted from operator fatigue. Also, numerous Greyhound passengers have documented instances in which the bus operator was eating when an accident occurred, a classic example of distracted driving.
The Bus Manufacturer
Just like the manufacturer of any other type of motor vehicle, bus manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their product is safe and that recalls of defective products will be issued in a timely fashion. If an inherently defective design is approved or a component known to be defective was not prompt recalled, the manufacturer is guilty of product liability.
City Government, State Government, or a Public Entity
Accidents involving mass transit are often devastating due to the large number of people involved and because they typically happen in heavily populated, metropolitan areas. Although it is possible to file a lawsuit against a municipal or state government, there are specific protocols. A bus accident attorney from Peterson & Associates, P.C. can explain these unique procedures if they apply to your case.
The Bus Operator
Even an appropriately trained and fully licensed bus driver who has been on the job for years is capable of causing an accident through negligence. If they were distracted because they were talking or eating, failed to pull over when they were tired, failed to pay attention to their surroundings, disregarded Missouri driving laws, or decided to drive drunk, they, and possibly their employer, must be held responsible.
The Other Driver
Similar to other motor vehicle accidents, two or more vehicles are usually involved. In some instances, each driver might share a percentage of the liability. Another driver’s negligent behavior, such as driving under the influence, speeding, or pulling out in front of a bus that has the right of way can cause injuries to everyone on board.
A School District
The most common bus accident in Missouri involves school buses. Nationwide, school bus accidents make up about 40% of all fatal bus accidents. Even if the bus operator, bus manufacturer, or bus company is liable, a school district could also be held accountable if they failed to cancel classes when road conditions were bad due to snow or ice, or they did not conduct proper background checks on the drivers when they were hired.
What Compensation Am I Entitled to for My Bus Accident Injuries?
The damages you are entitled to recover for a bus accident injury will hinge on the nature, degree, and longevity of your injuries as well as how they have impacted and will continue to impact your life.
You might have sustained a severely sprained ankle that only required a quick visit to the emergency room and a couple of weeks off of work while it healed. Conversely, you might have endured a catastrophic spinal cord injury that left you paralyzed, disabled and needing assistive medical devices, such as a wheelchair, for the rest of your life.
When you work with an accomplished and reputable Columbia bus accident lawyer from Peterson & Associates, P.C., we will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the full amount of financial compensation for all of the inconvenience, upset, and pain that your injury has and will continue to cause.
Depending on the specifics of your bus accident, you may be entitled to recover:
- Economic damages, such as:
- Medical costs, such as doctor and hospital bills, prescription drugs, physical therapy, and medically necessary assistive devices
- Lost earnings
- Diminished earning capacity
If necessary, we will employ a team of financial and medical professionals to calculate the precise amount of economic damages you are owed, considering inflation for projected diminished earning capacity and anticipated medical costs.
- Non-economic damages, such as:
- Mental trauma
- Physical disability
- Permanent scarring/Disfigurement
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of companionship
Irrespective of how severe your injuries are and how much they have influenced your life, the bus accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. will fight for you to ensure you collect the full economic recovery for all of your losses.
Reach Out to a Columbia Bus Accident Lawyer Today
Our lawyers have seen hundreds of bus accident cases and know the devastating impacts and tremendous pain they can cause you and your family. The Columbia bus accident lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C. are skilled, empathetic, persistent, and reliable. We will use every ounce of the skills and knowledge we have acquired over the past four decades to secure the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
If you or a member of your family was injured in a bus accident, do not put off speaking with a Missouri personal injury attorney one minute longer. Contact Peterson & Associates, P.C. today at (816) 430-2544 to schedule your free consultation.