If you or a loved one has been injured by a careless bus driver, you may decide to hold that driver and his employer liable for your injuries by contacting a Denver bus accident attorney and filing a personal injury lawsuit. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has been practicing personal injury law in the state of Colorado for over a decade. He is dedicated to helping his clients recover just compensation for their injuries so they can move on with their lives. Contact our Denver accident attorneys today for a free case consultation.
Colorado Bus Accident Resources:
- Bus Accident Statistics
- What are the most common causes of bus accidents?
- Who is liable in a bus accident?
- How do you prove negligence in a Colorado bus accident?
- What should I do after being involved in a Colorado bus accident?
- When should I hire a Denver bus accident lawyer?
Bus Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed in a staggering study that in the past year across the United States:
- Buses were involved in roughly 15,000 crashes
- Approximately 24,000 people were injured in an accident involving a bus
- 257 people died in fatal accidents involving a motor coach, transit bus, city bus or school bus
Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Larger sizes, higher weight and increased number of people involved lend to bus accidents resulting in higher rates of injury and fatality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Admissions, a bus is considered to be any motor vehicle designed to carry more than 10 people and can include campers and limos. The most common causes for bus accidents in the US are:
- Distracted bus driver
- Driver intoxicated or drug impaired
- Bus driver violated traffic laws
- Transit company failed to properly maintain the vehicle
- Faulty or defective bus part or system
Bus Accidents And Employer Liability
In a negligence case involving a motor vehicle accident, normally the only person that you can seek redress from is the driver of the other car. In cases involving an employee driver, you can also seek damages from the driver’s employer. Bus drivers are usually employees of either a private company or a government entity. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers can be held liable for the torts of its employees while in the course and scope of their employment.
For example, Joe is a bus driver for ABC Tour Bus Company, a private company. While driving a bus full of passengers, Joe rear-ends the car in front of him. He hadn’t been paying close attention to the road, as he was trying to figure out what street to turn on to drop off the group. The traffic in front of him slowed suddenly and Joe reacted a bit late. He smacked into Bonnie’s car injuring her and damage to her car. No one on the bus was injured. Bonnie later contacts a rear-end accidents attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit against Joe and the tour bus company, as Joe was acting in the course and scope of his employment because he was transporting passengers.
It is not always clear if an employer will be liable for the actions of its employees. For example, if an employee is on is a lunch break and is not doing anything to further the employer’s business, then the employer likely cannot be held liable for a negligent action the employee does. Another way that an employer may escape liability is if the employee commits an intentional tort, such as an assault while working. Thus, if an employee punched someone because the employee had a personal grudge against that person, then the employer may not be responsible for the action of that employee.
Proving Negligence In Colorado
Buses are a common method of public transportation used by millions of people around the country. Unfortunately, every year bus accidents occur, injuring people. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “[i]n 2014, 3,978 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 5-percent decrease from 2013.” The number of fatal bus accidents in 2014 also decreased, from 282 to 234. However, in 2015, there was an increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It is unclear if bus accidents increased as well.
Personal injury cases, like bus accidents, typically involve an area of law called negligence. Negligence is “[t]he failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1133 (9th ed. 2009). In a given situation, you are expected to use reasonable care to make sure that you don’t injure other people or damage property. For example, if you are operating a motor vehicle you are supposed to do so safely and responsibly. If you text your friend while driving down the road and rear-end someone because you were looking at your phone and not the road, then you may be liable for negligence.
Proving negligence is a court of law requires the plaintiff to prove certain elements. In Colorado in order to prove that the defendant was negligent the plaintiff must show “the defendant owed a legal duty of care; second, the defendant breached that duty; third, the plaintiff was injured; and fourth, the defendant’s breach caused that injury.” Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322, 324 (Colo. 2004). If a plaintiff can prove all these elements by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff may be able to hold the defendant liable for any damages that the defendant caused.
Government Claims And Notice Provisions
In general, government entities have sovereign immunity, which means they cannot be sued unless they waive that immunity. Most government entities have waived their immunity. The federal government did so under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Supreme Court of Colorado waived the state’s immunity in 1971 and the state subsequently passed the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. C.R.S. 24-10-104 (2016). If you are injured by a government employee then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the government entity that the employee works for. For example, if you are injured by a city bus employee, then you may be able to file a claim against the city.
The big thing to be aware of when seeking to bring a claim against a government entity is that often you must give a government notice that you have a claim within a limited time frame. While the statute of limitations may be a few years, the notice provision may have a much shorter time frame. If a person fails to comply with the notice claim, this can bar that person from bringing a claim for damages. For example, under Colorado law, the notice provision requires a person to inform the government that they have a claim “within one hundred eighty-two days after the date of the discovery of the injury.” C.R.S. 24-10-109 (2016).
What to do if You’re Involved in a Denver Bus Accident
Whether you’re native to Colorado or visiting, you have the right to stay safe while on the city’s road ways and transportation systems. If you’ve been involved in a bus accident it’s important to follow these steps in order to remain safe, and receive the compensation you may be entitled to.
- Visit a Doctor. Get examined by a qualified medical professional as soon as possible and be aware that injuries may take time to develop. Keep detailed records of all treatment and recovery details—this information could be useful for your case.
- Don’t Sign Anything. Transit companies, passenger carrier vehicle owners, or their insurance adjustors may approach you and offer you compensation in efforts to avoid legal action. Don’t settle for anything without first seeking legal advice.
- Lawyer Up. Most personal injury claims in Colorado have a statute of limitations, or window of opportunity for legal action, of two years; however, regulations that apply to bus accident claims can vary depending on owner/operator, service type, and crash circumstances. It’s imperative you seek legal advice to make sure your claim can be filed.
Contact a Denver Bus Accident Attorney
Drivers of commercial buses are entrusted with the safety of their passengers. This higher degree of responsibility causes commercial bus drivers to be held to higher standards than non-commercial drivers. There are additional rules governing the physical conditions, safety features, and licensing of buses and their drivers. The Denver personal injury attorneys at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal will fight for your rights and interests so you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured a bus accident in Denver, call a our bus accident attorneys today for a free case consultation.