Buses play a big role in the daily commute for thousands on the New York streets and roadways. A large number of city, charter, school, and tour buses carry NYC commuters to their destinations each day. Among these numerous safe and successful daily bus trips, there are instances when bus accidents occur – causing serious physical, emotional, and financial hardship to those involved.
If you or someone you care for is the victim of a New York bus accident, read on to know more about your legal rights and how an experienced New York bus accident attorney can help you secure full and fair compensation for your injuries and related damages.
Who is Legally Responsible for a Bus Passenger’s Safety in New York?
Like in any other big city, buses are a vital component of the New York public transit system that transports people to school, work, shopping trips, sightseeing, etc. As per the legal definition, a business entity that transports people in exchange for payment is a common carrier.
Bus companies, as common carriers, are legally responsible to treat passenger safety as a priority. However, the sad fact is that the bus companies try their best to avoid liability or deny it altogether when faced with compensation claims for accidents that involve passenger injuries or fatalities.
To further complicate matters, liability in a bus accident sometimes extends to other entities, such as maintenance companies, municipal authorities, bus part manufacturers, and motorists or other road users.
This makes hiring a competent bus accident attorney an important part of the process of filing a compensation claim. A skilled personal injury legal professional has the required resources and expertise to collect vital evidence, sort out liability concerns, and establish a solid case for damages.
What are the Laws for Common Carriers in NY?
Both federal and the NY state governments regulate the laws for common carriers. The prime objective of formulating and enforcing these laws is to hold the common carriers accountable for standards of passenger safety. Under these laws, common carriers must take some necessary steps to ensure passenger safety, including:
Statute of Limitations for NYC Bus Accident Lawsuits
A statute of limitations applies to personal injury bus accident lawsuits. This refers to the deadline by which a complainant must file for damages. The statute of limitations in most New York personal injury cases is 3 years. If the party you are suing is a government entity, you need to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the injury, failing which you will lose your legal right to file a lawsuit. You need to retain a New York City bus accident lawyer with specific knowledge of requirements about the notice of claim.
Some Common Acts of Negligence by Common Carriers
Any violations by a bus company in performing their prime duty of keeping their passengers safe qualifies as an act of negligence in the eyes of law. Negligence may include any careless or unreasonable acts by the bus company or the bus driver that has the potential to endanger passenger safety. Some of these acts of negligence include:
What Makes New York Bus Accidents So Dangerous?
Although bus accidents are much less common than accidents involving other vehicles, bus accidents often end up causing much more damage. The size and weight of a bus make it harder to operate and maneuver. The inability to see vehicles because of bigger blind spots and increased stopping distance due to the bulk, also add to the problems for a bus driver.
Additionally, driver fatigue, insufficient training, distraction, and deadlines compound the problem. It might be difficult to establish the role that bus driver error plays in crashes. Many factors contribute towards making bus accidents more dangerous and severe than other crashes. Some of these are:
Buses are much bigger than most of the other passenger vehicles on the road, weighing in at several tons and towering over the traffic. Their massive mass combined with the momentum can have disastrous consequences in an accident, leading to serious injuries and fatalities.
Passengers traveling in trucks and cars have the option to use seat belts to restrain their own self and be relatively safer in the event of a collision. Buses, on the other hand, transport passengers who are usually sitting without restraint, or standing. Traveling without any restraint makes the passengers much more vulnerable to severe injuries in an accident.
There is an inherent flaw in the bus design that provides more room and space for the passengers, but as a result, makes them top-heavy and boxier. Simply put, this means that buses are more susceptible to roll over in a crash. Rollover accidents can cause severe injuries and fatalities, especially when the passengers are traveling without any restraints.
Types of Buses on New York Roadways
If you are involved in a bus accident in New York, the course and fate of your compensation claim and personal injury lawsuit might depend on the type of bus involved in the crash. These are some of the types of buses on NYC roads:
A majority of more than 1.1 million students of New York City public schools use a school bus to travel to and from their schools. New York school bus drivers have a special responsibility to ensure the safety of their young passengers.
The responsibilities of a school bus driver include strictly complying with city speed limits and ensuring that children cross the road safely after deboarding. Unfortunately, the largest school district in the country sees more school buses involved in fatal crashes than any other type of bus.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Buses
NYC roads see more than 5,700 MTA-run buses every day. The MTA bus drivers transport millions across the city and thus have a responsibility to be extra careful and cautious while doing so. Sadly, that is not the case always.
A New York Post study showed that MTA buses were involved in an average of 23 accidents every day over a period of 2½ years beginning 2015. Shockingly, that comes to a total of 21,800 bus accidents.
Private companies like Greyhound, BoltBus, Peter Pan, GoBuses, and MegaBus, also operate in New York to help commuters get in and around the city. These bus operators also connect other metropolitan areas, such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC, with New York City.
Like other bus companies, these private operators are also responsible to hire and retain capable and qualified drivers. However, when bus companies fail to follow regulations in hiring competent drivers and monitoring them effectively, it increases the risks of bus accidents on city roads manifold.
Apart from a big city, New York is a big tourist attraction too. There are a lot of sights to see, and one of the best ways tourists can enjoy the landmarks spread across several boroughs is by taking a tour bus.
These hop-on-hop-off buses stop and go at frequent intervals, which makes them a safety hazard on New York’s busy and crowded streets. Many of these tour buses are double-deckers, with passengers sitting on the top. There is a high risk of unrestrained passengers ejecting from the bus in the event of a crash, and suffering severe injuries.
Individuals and Entities Liable for Bus Accident Injuries
While seeking compensation for your NYC bus accident injuries, you and your attorney must determine who is responsible for the bus accident. The liability might lie with one of the following:
The primary onus for transporting passengers safely is on the driver of the bus. You may hold the bus driver personally accountable for injuries and damages if their negligence or misconduct caused the accident.
Bus companies are responsible for hiring and training qualified drivers and employees. They must also follow state and federal regulations regarding the purchase, inspection, and routine maintenance of buses and related equipment. If you suffer injuries in a bus accident, you may file your compensation claim against the bus company.
Manufacturers of buses and safety equipment need to ensure the safety of the products they sell. If you can prove that a defect in the bus or safety equipment contributed to the crash, you may file a lawsuit against the manufacturers or sellers of such equipment.
Sometimes, there might be other motorists or pedestrians partly responsible for the bus accident. In New York, the comparative negligence law allows you to hold others liable for the damages.
Our New York City Bus Accident Attorneys Can Help with Your Lawsuit
In the event of a bus accident, the company operating the bus service and their insurers will most likely try their best to deny liability or force you into settling for much less than you deserve for your injuries. An able and committed bus accident attorney can prove to be your best ally and guide under such circumstances.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a bus accident, the bus accident lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, are here to support you and help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Our legal team is renowned to provide humane and personalized guidance, leaving you free to deal with the process of your recovery and healing. Call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.
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