With an enormous tourist population as well as a sprawling suburban landscape, Las Vegas is unfortunately a hotbed for various kinds of bus accidents. Due to the fact that these are some of the rarest and most severe crashes in terms of damages and parties involved, it is important for all Nevada motorists to know exactly what to expect when they are involved in a bus-related accident.
Fortunately, the first two steps to take after a bus accident are relatively straightforward: get medical help, then legal help. By seeking immediate attention for your injuries, no matter how mild, you will aid your case tremendously by establishing a timeline and history of treatment for later. Additionally, retaining a qualified bus accident attorney, such as those from Van Law Firm, will allow you to rehab with confidence knowing that the proper evidence will be preserved and your end settlement will garner the highest possible return.
Legal Definition of a Bus
As with any legal concept, it helps to first understand exactly how the state defines a bus and subsequently bus accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of the leading authorities on all auto-related regulations in the U.S., defines a “bus” as a “motor vehicle that has capacity of 11 or more people (including the driver).” This definition, as they point out, can extend to vans, but not to vans and buses that are modified or are being used for alternative purposes (such as work, storage, etc.). So, that being said, a comprehensive list of vehicles that could be defined as a bus would include:
- School buses
- Public/ city buses
- Tour buses
- Charter buses
- Shuttles (casino, airport)
- Private motorcoaches (usually used by churches, other organizations)
Potential Bus Accident Causes
Bus accidents tend to be a little more complex in terms of causes and liability, due to the fact that many different types of vehicles fall under the same definition, as well as the increased number of parties involved (20,30+ in some cases). Some “bus” drivers may be professionals with the proper training and licensing, whereas others may be just ordinary motorists who have been tasked with mass transportation, such as a church or sporting event organizer. As such, the root cause of a bus incident can vary widely, including the following:
- Aggressive or negligent driving (speeding, abrupt lane changes,etc.)
- Impaired driving (alcohol, marijuana, prescription medication)
- Distracted driving
- Hazardous weather/ road conditions
- Improper/ negligent vehicle maintenance
- Defective parts/ mechanical failure
Now that we’ve established the parameters of buses and bus accident causes, the biggest question left to answer has to do with determining and enforcing liability. As mentioned above, bus cases can be tricky to sort out, but it helps to break it down into three unofficial categories: driver error, non-driver error, and government entities.
Any accident cause that can be traced back to the driver usually will be. Examples of unsafe practices, aggressive driving, distraction, and impairment will almost surely cause courts to assign blame to the vehicle’s driver. Usually, if a driver is a licensed professional, the litigation will be handled by the driver’s employer and their insurer. If it is just a citizen motorist who happened to be driving, whoever owns the bus (such as a church ) will still likely face liability, as they allowed a non-professional driver to operate the vehicle with numerous passengers inside.
Even accidents caused primarily by unsafe weather conditions, which everyone would say are outside of human control, can come back to the driver/ vehicle owner because at the end of the day if the weather was such that the conditions caused an accident, it’s pretty easy to argue that the driver shouldn’t have taken the chance at all.
Occasionally, accidents are indeed caused by factors that are outside of the driver’s control. Some prominent examples include improper or faulty maintenance or a full-on mechanical failure. Proven examples of vehicle defects can open the door to multiple defendant possibilities, such as transit companies, maintenance crews, even vehicle manufacturers in some cases. It all depends on the severity and scope of the defect.
The last category of cases involves buses that are owned by the state, city, or county entities. This most notably includes city RTC buses and Clark County school buses. While there is nothing different with these accidents in terms of cause, we consider these to be altogether separate from other cases in that suing government agencies is much, much more complex and has its own set of rules and limitations.
Contact Trusted Bus Accident Attorneys Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with steep medical bills and lost income after being injured in a bus accident, contact the experienced Las Vegas bus accident attorneys from Van Law Firm today. In under ten years of operation, we’ve built a 5-star rating across all platforms, and we’re just getting started. Call (702) 529-1011 now for more information and a free consultation.