Buses are such a ubiquitous part of life, whether city buses, school buses, or private and charter buses. People don’t tend to think about them in terms of accidents, not least because they assume that bus drivers are aware of their size and take additional precautions to avoid accidents. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. Here’s what you need to know about bus accidents.
What Causes Most Bus Accidents?
Because buses are big and weighty, they can inflict considerable damage on smaller vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. It’s highly advisable to use caution whenever sharing the road with any larger vehicle, including buses.
Here are some of the most common causes of bus accidents.
- The driver was negligent or reckless. This can take many forms. Just as with car drivers, a bus driver may be distracted by using a cell phone, turning to look at passengers or to adjust something on the dashboard. They may be in violation of Canada’s bus driver laws which regulate how many hours a driver can be on the road, as well as a minimum number of rest hours before the next drive begins. The driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They may not follow the laws of the road and engage in speeding or other reckless driving that increases the risk of accidents.
- The driver may be overly fatigued, a situation that should cause them to stop driving. Unfortunately, many drivers are either unaware of the extent of their fatigue, or they ignore it and drive anyway.
- The bus company was negligent. This also can take many forms. The bus company may have overscheduled their drivers, not providing the legally mandated rest periods. They may not have conducted proper background checks when hiring or provided adequate training. They might not perform required maintenance on the buses or opt to ignore needed repairs.
- The road conditions were dangerous. This is often weather-related, especially in winter when snow and ice make roads hazardous. But rainy weather in summer can degrade road conditions as well. Fog or heavy rain can significantly reduce visibility. These are all things that the driver should have been trained to handle safely. Even if they were trained, some drivers are overly confident that they can handle the conditions and drive too fast or too close to other vehicles, then find themselves unable to stop in time to avoid an accident.
What Happens if I Am Partly Responsible for the Accident with a Bus that Caused Me Injuries?
Determining the cause of the accident is crucial in assessing liability, which has a significant impact on the amount of damages the injured party could receive. Nova Scotia’s contributory negligence laws say that if both parties in an accident share some of the fault, the amount of damages the injured party will receive is reduced by their proportion of the blame. For example, if the injured person were found to be 40% responsible for the accident and were awarded $10,000, they’d only receive $6,000. This is why working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial.
What Kinds of Injuries Occur in Bus Accidents?
There are essentially two types of injuries that happen in bus accidents: Physical and psychological.
Physical injuries. Virtually any part of the human body can be injured in a bus accident, and injuries can range from minor to deadly. These include:
- Scrapes, bruises, and cuts.
- Broken bones.
- Nerve damage.
- Internal injuries. This category includes damage to internal organs, pierced lungs, and internal hemorrhaging. While these may not be immediately apparent, they’re dangerous injuries that can lead to death.
- Neck and spinal cord injuries. Whenever the neck or spinal cord is injured, there’s potential for lifelong ramifications, including paralysis and other permanent disabilities. These can also lead to death.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). There are multiple types of TBIs (a concussion is one). These can be life-altering or -threatening too.
Psychological injuries. Not all injuries caused by a bus accident are physical.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychological condition in which someone who was in a bus accident finds themselves unable to detach from the situation mentally. They may have recurring nightmares or find themselves unable to ride buses for fear of being in another accident.
- Pain and suffering. While pain and suffering are real physical symptoms, they can also affect someone’s mental health, making them unable to manage their daily lives.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Bus Accident in Nova Scotia?
First, see a doctor as soon as possible. There are injuries, including severe ones, that don’t always exhibit symptoms immediately, which is why you should see a doctor even if you feel fine. Untreated injuries can worsen and even become life-threatening.
Then call NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. These types of personal injury cases can be complicated, and you benefit from working with an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer. Our focus is on getting the best possible outcomes for your case.
One thing not to do: Communicate with the bus company’s insurance representative or lawyers. Their goal is to redirect the fault for the accident away from the bus company to avoid paying out damages. They may try to get you to accept some or all of the blame, or they may try to get you to accept a settlement amount that’s much lower than you might be entitled to. Whether they contact you via email, letter, or phone, don’t respond. Instead, forward the communications to your lawyer.