Large buses contribute to hundreds of crash fatalities and thousands of personal injuries each year. Unfortunately, over half of the buses involved in fatal crashes are school or local transit buses. The average Duluth school bus carries over 70 children, while the average local commuter bus fits 50 to 80 passengers. These numbers mean every Duluth bus accident endangers dozens of lives.
Despite the dangers of negligent bus driving, it’s difficult to claim compensation after mass accidents, especially those involving public entities. Quickly contacting a Duluth bus accident lawyer with experience handling bus accident claims might protect your right to financial compensation. Schedule your free Duluth bus accident consultation at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm today by calling (404) 418-8244 or contacting us online.
Common Causes of Public Bus Crashes in Duluth
Large buses, including school, commuter, and private charters, are subject to federal safety regulations and training protocols. Bus drivers must undergo rigorous safety training to operate these inherently dangerous vehicles while simultaneously managing passengers. Driver negligence, safety violations, and mechanical neglect often contribute to bus crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggests these three factors cause many of the hundreds of bus accidents and fatalities that take place every year.
Lack of Bus Maintenance, Inspection, and Repair
Private bus companies generally keep prices low to compete with local ride-share businesses and other forms of transportation. Further, most Duluth school and metro buses offer free and low-cost public services. Bus companies typically rely on volume (filling up buses with passengers) to cover expensive maintenance, gas, and operating expenses. These factors combined lead some bus owners to skirt federally mandated inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
These mechanical failures often lead to bus accident injuries in Duluth:
- Tire blowouts – Buses generally need four to eight commercial-grade tires to sustain their weights. These tires require frequent pressure and tread checks after regularly carrying 30,000 pounds. Overstress tires may burst under pressure, resulting in loss of control accidents endangering passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers.
- Brake system defects – Buses need specialized air brakes and high-capacity systems to stop safely. Even with these systems, buses still require additional time to stop completely. Brake system defects often result in serious rear-end collisions, intersection accidents, and off-road crashes.
- Seatbelt and emergency exit malfunctions – Most buses must contain multiple emergency exits and seatbelts for each passenger. However, many school districts hold children’s seat belts together with duck tape or never replace broken buckles. Fleet owners might also fail to perform mandatory emergency exit checks to ensure quick and easy evacuations. This neglect can result in serious head and neck injuries after accidents and smoke inhalation or burns during delayed or failed evacuations.
- Computer and GPS failures – Commercial vehicles require specialized commercial navigation systems designed to prevent fatal overpass accidents. Many roadways have low bridges and tunnels that cannot accommodate large buses. Some bus companies will not spend money on these systems, leading drivers to utilize their phones or sub-par navigation systems. This neglect may lead to serious but avoidable sheering and tip-over accidents resulting in mass casualties.
It’s common to find outdated school and commuter buses with safety violations. While poor maintenance often results from financial strain, it does not excuse fleet-owner negligence. Passengers injured due to safety violations or other drivers harmed by mechanical failures should work with a Duluth bus injury lawyer to demand fair compensation.
Driver Negligence and Inexperience
Like all drivers, bus operators often violate local traffic and safety laws. These commonly include speeding, following too closely, failing to obey traffic signs, drunk driving, texting, and driver distraction. Passengers often intentionally distract bus drivers. Drivers should pull over for safety in such cases, especially when faced with drunk, sick, or unruly passengers.
Distraction and speeding often result in tip-over accidents if drivers take curves too sharply. Buses might tip over on their sides and roll, causing serious passenger injuries and potential fatalities. High-speed bus accidents may propel buses over inclines or cause sudden fires. Even traditional motor vehicle accidents, such as rear-end collisions, do more damage when large buses impact small passenger vehicles. These accidents may crush sedans and fatally injure motorcyclists.
FMCSA Safety and License Violations
The FMCSA warns passengers to ensure commercial bus operators have proper licenses and drive DOT and FMCSA-certified buses. Compliant fleet operators only hire background-checked, licensed, and reputable drivers. They also generally have computer systems for logging driver hours and scheduling safety checks.
Some commercial bus companies forgo regulatory requirements to save money, resulting in serious passenger injuries and fatalities. Careless and untrained drivers often cause serious bus accident injuries due to fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse, speeding, and difficulty driving with blind spots. Extremely negligent bus drivers might injure passengers along roadways, clip and kill cyclists, roll buses over during turns, trigger highway pile-ups, or cause deadly bus fires.
Injuries Associated With Commercial Bus Accidents in Duluth
Passengers frequently sit sideways or stand on buses. They’re also subject to sheering accidents and bus fires.
Bus passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicle operators often suffer unique injuries following bus crashes, including:
- Open (penetrating) traumatic brain injuries – Buses contain internal and external glass and metal that may break during high-speed accidents. Overpass accidents also send dangerous debris raining down on passengers. Penetrating brain injuries occur when an outside force (such as glass shards or metal) breaks through the skull and penetrates the brain. Skull fractures might also occur when crashes propel passengers onto buses’ floors, roofs, or sides. Traumatic brain injuries may result in memory loss, blindness, communication difficulties, delayed processing disorders, and personality changes. Penetrating brain injuries often result in comas, vegetative states, or death without immediate medical intervention.
- Full-thickness burns – Bus passengers often struggle to exit burning vehicles due to rubbernecking. Panicking occupants often stumble over one another or block emergency exits, resulting in serious burns, dangerous smoke inhalation, fractures, and brain trauma. Widespread burns often result in long-term hospital admission, multiple surgeries, extreme pain, and dangerous infections. Attorneys may help claimants recover damages for these bills and cosmetic procedures in such cases.
- Traumatic fractures – Flying debris may impale passengers following bus crashes, causing traumatic fractures. The unique position of passengers, including lack of seat belts, can also result in wrist, ankle, rib, and skull fractures following bus accidents. Skull and leg fractures can also occur when drivers trap passengers between closing doors or after high-speed impacts.
- Shoulder strains and dislocation – Standing passengers may suffer from sudden shoulder dislocations, fractures, and strains during bus crashes. While these injures are seldom life-threatening, they often cause long-term disabilities.
- Spinal cord damage – Mild whiplash (neck and back strains) and herniated discs represent the most common motor vehicle accident injuries. However, bus accidents frequently cause severe spinal cord damage, including paralysis, after striking exposed pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bikers.
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) – This type of brain stem injury can happen after high-speed bus accidents. DAIs occur when the impact force propels passengers’ heads forward and suddenly backward, tearing the life-sustain nerve fibers connecting the brain and spine. Smaller vehicles might also get trapped under buses, resulting in fatal brain stem trauma, when negligent drivers change lanes before checking their blind spots.
- Chest trauma – Many buses lack seatbelts or allow passengers to stand. These safety concessions may result in chest injuries if sudden accidents propel claimants into tray tables, hard seats, or other solid surfaces. Chest swelling puts pressure on the heart and lungs. Likewise, fractured ribs could puncture the lungs. These injuries may deprive claimants of necessary oxygen leading to hypoxic brain injuries.
You need experienced representation if bus driver or fleet owner negligence resulted in serious injuries. The above conditions often result in substantial lost wages, medical bills, pain, and daily frustrations.
Recovering Compensation After Mass Casualty Bus Accidents in Duluth
Most viable accident claims settle with liable insurers. As commercial vehicles, passenger buses carrying over 15 people must maintain at least $5 million in bodily injury insurance. These high-value policies cover the most common bus accident injuries, but bus accidents differ from other collisions because they frequently involve multiple claimants.
Unfortunately, most commercial insurance policies limit single event payouts. This caveat means all injured claimants vie for pieces of the same policy, potentially reducing your financial recovery. Claimants involved in mass casualty bus accidents often face problems when competing with other claimants for needed compensation.
Bus accident attorneys in Duluth must act quickly to persevere their clients’ rights after major bus crashes. Doing so may mean suing negligent bus operators and companies while simultaneously making insurance claims. After mass casualty events, judicial protection may prevent insurers from undermining certain claimants by unevenly distributing available funds. The experienced Duluth bus accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm might protect your right to claim fair insurance settlements after mass casualty crashes.
Demanding Bus Accident Damages From State and Local Entities
The Gwinnett County School District provides most student transportation services with district-owned buses. Likewise, the City of Duluth (through Gwinnett County Transit) owns public commuter buses. Bus accidents involving publicly owned vehicles trigger unique Georgia public liability laws. Injured claimants must provide administrative notice to the state claims authority before recovering damages from public entities. Most public agencies automatically deny bus accident claims, leaving claimants to sue the entity or settle cases with insurance adjusters.
Vicarious liability principles also apply to bus accidents, meaning injured claimants might hold public entities liable for employee negligence. In some cases, claimants may also hold bus owners directly responsible for their maintenance and safety failures. School districts and transportation authorities generally carry umbrella insurance policies covering bus accidents, but they frequently utilize city resources to fight high-value claims.
If you were injured while riding a publicly owned bus, it isn’t easy to recover fair compensation without legal assistance. Consider discussing these time-sensitive claims with our knowledgeable Duluth injury attorneys.
Financial Compensation Available After Duluth Bus Crashes
Bus accidents frequently involve general negligence and negligence per se claims. Negligence lawsuits allege that bus drivers and owners carelessly caused passenger or pedestrian injuries. Examples include failing to see vehicles in blind spots and driver distraction due to passenger misconduct. Negligence per se claims assert that the injuries resulted from specific traffic or FMCSA legal violations. Examples of these claims include speeding, impaired driving, lack of seatbelts, and overdue repairs.
Both claims often arise in bus accident cases, giving injured claimants standing to demand compensation for their past and future losses.
These losses often include more than emergency room expenses and lost wages. Injured claimants might demand damages for:
- Ambulance, emergency room, and hospital bills
- Medical, chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture treatment
- Medications and pharmacy expenses
- Medical equipment and necessary housing modifications
- Private nursing care
- Household help
- Lost income, bonuses, and raises
- Missed business and career opportunities
- Lost enjoyment of previous hobbies
- Daily frustrations
- Physical pain and scarring
- Emotional distress and suffering
Claimants might demand reimbursement for past expenses and financial payouts for future anticipated damages. Our Duluth bus accident lawyers frequently work with top medical and economic experts to calculate your financial damages and demand appropriate insurance settlements.
Duluth Bus Accident Lawyer FAQs
Taking the bus is part of many Duluth residents’ daily routine. Whether you take the bus to work or school, unexpected bus accidents can immediately impact your wages, education, and health. Public entities, including cities and school districts, frequently downplay their liability and your injuries. Many bus crash survivors cannot recover compensation without help from a dedicated Duluth bus accident lawyer.
At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, our attorneys frequently receive the following questions in commercial bus accident cases. To obtain answers about your specific injury claim, schedule a free case analysis with us today by calling (404) 205-8614 or contacting us online.
Who pays my immediate medical bills and lost wages after a Duluth bus accident?
Generally, private health and disability insurance cover bills and lost wages until you settle commercial bus insurance claims. Even minor bus crash injuries often result in emergency room bills and lost wages.
The most common injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, whiplash and back pain, often prevent workers from performing basic job tasks such as using computers, sitting, standing, or reaching. These chronic conditions may seem minor, but many claimants fall behind at work and struggle to afford rehabilitation after commercial bus crashes. While claimants injured in bus accidents may eventually demand reimbursement for their damages, many need help with immediate expenses.
Federally mandated commercial insurance policies generally cover injuries and lost wages resulting from bus crashes. These high-value policies typically provide medical coverage to passengers, other vehicle operators, and pedestrians injured by bus driver negligence. Claimants may work with bus accident counsel to file auto insurance claims. However, the claims process seldom results in immediate payouts.
Getting speedy financial assistance often means utilizing private health insurance and disability benefits. Some passengers might submit emergency room bills and pay stubs directly to the bus insurer. School districts could also bear responsibility for covering school bus crash injuries, and injured drivers might rely on private bodily injury coverage. Bus accident lawyers understand that claimants typically need medical care and weekly bills before they receive lump-sum compensation. The experienced Duluth bus accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can discuss immediate and long-term financial recovery options with individual claimants.
How much is my Duluth bus accident claim worth?
The value of your claim depends on your direct financial losses, injuries, and the number of injured claimants. The average attorney negotiated claim settles between $30,000 and $100,000, but many bus accident cases commended multi-million dollar insurance awards.
The value of your Duluth injury claim generally depends on:
- The number of claimants injured in the crash
- The nature of the accident, such as drunk driving or federal safety violations
- The claimant’s direct losses, such as medical bills and lost income
- The disabling and serious nature of the injuries
- The physical pain and emotional anguish associated with the trauma
- The amount of commercial auto and umbrella insurance coverage
- The availability and quality of evidence
Medical expenses (including doctor visits, surgeries, rehabilitation appointments, nursing care, pharmacy costs) and career-related losses make up most settlements. Employment damages might also include the value of lost medical benefits, retirement contributions, vacation time, missed promotions, and missed business opportunities. Importantly, you may recover for past damages and anticipated future needs.
Bus accident claimants might also demand non-economic pain and suffering damages. These damages compensate claimants for the frustration, lost time, physical pain, and emotional distress associated with serious injuries. They might also include lost enjoyment of life damages if the injuries impacted your normal activities. Examples include biking, dancing, cooking, exercising, or even playing with your grandchildren.
Insurers typically calculate non-economic damages by multiplying your direct damages (such as medical expenses and lost income) based on your injuries’ seriousness. Conditions including paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, burns, and multiple fractures often result in higher pain and suffering awards.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires buses carrying 15 or more passengers to maintain at least $5,000,000 in bodily injury insurance. These policies frequently provide sufficient coverage if only one claimant, such as an injured pedestrian, demands damages. However, mass casualty bus crashes could result in reduced insurance awards. Insurers may limit single event coverage. As such, adjusters might divide available insurance damages between injured claimants. Making quick and accurate claims might prevent disproportionate damage awards. Bus accident lawyers might also demand financial settlements from negligent bus drivers and fleet owners in court.
How long does it take to recover compensation after a Duluth bus crash?
Recovery of compensation can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the claimant’s needs. Insurers typically investigate bus accidents for months following the crash. Independent FMCSA analysts and local police officers might also open investigations. Adjusters do not normally begin making reasonable settlement offers until they complete their liability investigations and receive all accident-related complaints.
During this period, our Duluth bus crash attorneys recommend claimants focus on recovering from their injuries and gathering the following evidence to support their injury claims:
- Medical records
- Expert witness reports
- Video footage and photographs of the accident scene
- Witness statements
- Statements from friends and loved ones about pain and suffering
- Receipts for co-pays, pharmacy expenses, and household services
- Pay stubs and disability paperwork from employers
- Police reports
- Certified disability statements and injury reports from treating doctors
- Evidence of past activates, such as gym attendance records, impacted by your injuries
Preparing evidence and calculating damages in advance might expedite the Duluth bus accident claims process. However, your settlement timeline still depends on commercial insurance adjusters, school districts, and other parties responsible for paying injury damages.
Sometimes, insurers complete their investigations and refuse to make claimants reasonable settlement offers. An experienced bus accident litigator may negotiate better payouts for claimants or, if necessary, litigate their cases. Suing negligent bus drivers and fleet owners often pressures insurers to settle claims, but it could result in lengthy lawsuits.
Cases involving city or school buses usually result in additional delays. Claims against public entities require claimants to undergo an administrative claims process. This additional step may add three to six months to your settlement timeline. Our knowledgeable Duluth bus accident lawyers understand that many claimants cannot wait years for needed injury compensation.
In such cases, our lawyers may work with adjusters to expedite the settlement process. Though it’s recommended you fight for the compensation you deserve, we understand how unexpected bus accidents place serious financial strains on Georgia families. Reputable bus accident lawyers should listen to your concerns and adjust their representation according to your specific needs.
Who is liable for injuries sustained in Duluth bus crashes?
The negligent bus driver, their employer, the bus’s registered owner, and other drivers involved in the crash all could be liable. Commercial motor vehicle accidents, including bus and truck collisions, frequently trigger vicarious liability. Vicarious liability principles hold employers and vehicle owners responsible for the bus driver’s negligent conduct. School districts, municipalities, and fleet owners might all share liability for bus crashes.
Commercial auto insurers are contractually responsible for paying most judgments, but they don’t bear independent liability for your injuries. Duluth residents injured by negligent bus drivers might demand full compensation from the drivers involved in the crash, registered vehicle owners, and the bus driver’s employer after mass casualty accidents.
During the investigation process, knowledgeable bus accident lawyers often discover that state and federal safety violations contributed to the crash. Many bus accidents result from poorly maintained tires, seatbelts, and braking systems. Sometimes fleet owners cut corners when conducting federally mandated safety inspections and vehicle maintenance. They might even fail to perform necessary background checks on drivers or even ensure they’re licensed to operate large buses.
Experienced bus accident attorneys frequently demand the bus’s most recent maintenance and inspection records, along with the driver’s incident history, to determine whether the bus was operating unlawfully. Such discoveries may result in additional claims against fleet owners and school districts. Evidence of safety failures might also result in expedited negligence judgments and related settlements.
How can I recover damages following a Duluth bus accident?
You can recover damages by working with local bus accident counsel to file an insurance claim and, if necessary, a legal complaint. Filing commercial insurance claims in viable cases is the fastest way to recover damages. Unlike many school districts and private defendants, bus insurers’ liquidity allows them to tender lump-sum settlements.
Accepting negotiated insurance offers often yields the best result for injured claimants and their families. Pre-litigation settlements cut down on legal costs, prevent bankruptcy court intervention, and often result in next-day payouts.
Lawyers usually only file legal complaints when liable entities refuse to provide essential evidence or make reasonable settlement offers. Judges may order discovery from negligent bus owners, including employee incident reports and bus maintenance records, and oversee court-ordered settlement negotiations. In some cases, attorneys might also recommend litigating if the claimant suffered damages above the insurance policy limit. Injuries resulting in long-term disabilities, including paralysis and severe head trauma, and wrongful death cases frequently necessitate judicial intervention.
Contact local counsel at our firm immediately if you sustained an injury in a Duluth bus accident. Public bus accidents, including school and commuter vehicles, trigger time-sensitive public liability proceedings.
Further, many private bus companies do not operate with DOT and FMCSA safety certifications. These companies may provide claimants with false information and then disappear to avoid federal investigations. Recovering compensation in these cases means acting quickly to protect your rights by requesting judicial intervention and associated legal protections.
How much do bus accident attorneys charge in the Duluth area?
Attorneys typically charge around 33 percent of your overall insurance settlement or verdict. Our Duluth bus accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t get paid unless you do. This structure allows injured claimants to retain bus accident counsel without any upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees.
Instead of charging hourly rates with retainers (prepaying the attorney for work), bus accident lawyers provide services in exchange for a promised percentage of the overall settlement. Contingency fee amounts generally depend on the scope of representation, attorney experience, and overall case difficulty. Many law firms even front the litigation fees and expert witness costs necessary to demand valuable settlements.
Ask your lawyer directly about their fee structure and your expected take-home settlement. You can afford to retain legal counsel in Duluth because it takes nothing out of your tight post-accident budget.
Why do I need a Duluth bus accident lawyer to help with my case?
You need a lawyer because represented claimants generally recover considerably more damages, even after subtracting attorneys’ fees, than unrepresented bus accident survivors.
Bus accidents are the most legally complicated motor vehicle cases in Georgia.
They frequently involve:
- Complex public liability claims
- Mass casualty events
- Life-altering injuries
- High-value commercial insurance policies
- Multiple liable defendants
- Federal safety regulations
- Lengthy federal, state, and insurance investigations
- Judicial claims consolidation proceedings
It’s difficult for unrepresented claimants to navigate this process, especially when recovering from disabling injuries. Many unrepresented passengers unwittingly miss important claims deadlines, giving defendants the right to reject their demands. Even some legal professionals handle bus accident cases incorrectly.
Insurers and liable entities look for ways to deny liability and frustrate claimants with administrative red tape. They’re looking out for the bottom line, not your wellbeing. Having a bus accident attorney on your side mitigates these frustrations so you can focus on your recovery.
From a purely economic perspective, retaining a bus accident lawyer typically pays for itself. Represented claimants may obtain five to ten times more damages than unrepresented ones, as adjusters frequently lowball claimants without lawyers.
Do not accept an unreasonable settlement check, regardless of the pretext, without contacting an experienced bus accident attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. Taking offered compensation means waiving your right to demand future damages for medical treatment, lost income, and physical pain. Discuss the benefits of working with our Duluth bus accident lawyers today.
The Importance of Retaining Legal Counsel for Bus Accidents in Duluth
Bus accidents frequently differ from other motor vehicle collisions. School and commuter bus crashes involve complex aspects of public liability, triggering time-sensitive administrative claims procedures. Claimants seldom recover financial compensation following bus accidents without retaining dedicated legal counsel. Mass casualty events may quickly drain insurer resources, leaving your family without the compensation they deserve. Consider connecting with our experienced Duluth bus accident lawyers if you or your loved one sustained devastating injuries in a Minnesota bus crash.
Most claimants cannot recover high-value compensation without retaining bus accident counsel, especially when wealthy fleet owners and public entities refuse to pay. It often costs nothing for claimants with viable bus accident cases to speak with and retain an injury attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. Our dedicated accident lawyers offer contingency fee arrangements to eligible claimants, meaning we don’t get paid if you don’t recover needed compensation. Schedule your free, confidential Duluth bus crash consultation today by calling (404) 418-8244 or contacting us online.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096
Phone: (404) 205-8614
“I was treated with great care and compassion by David Brauns and his team. Both David and Nick Connelly were in constant communication with me throughout the process. Highly recommend.”
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