A tragic accident occurred recently involved a school bus and a commuter bus in Baltimore. The school bus fortunately did not yet have children on board at the time of the incident. It was on its way to pick up kids when the school bus rear-ended a vehicle. The bus then hit a cemetery pillar before crossing into oncoming traffic and striking the commuter bus. According to CNN, at least 10 people were hurt and six people were killed in the bus accident and one witness described the damage as "catastrophic." The driver of the school bus died, and five people who had been on the commuter bus lost their lives.
This accident was a tragic one, but is not an isolated incident. Bus crashes happen every year throughout Baltimore and surrounding areas. Those who are involved in a bus accident need to know what their rights are and what they should do following a bus collision to protect their ability to pursue a claim for damages.
When a bus accident occurs, the first and most important thing for victims to do is to seek medical help. Buses are obviously much larger vehicles than traditional passenger cars, so the force and impact of a collision is usually great and serious injuries can result. Many people on buses also do not wear seat belts while riding, which can further exacerbate the severity of injuries.
Outside of getting prompt medical help, it becomes necessary to determine who was at fault for the bus collision and who can thus be held accountable for losses. Bus passengers have no control over any vehicle involved in the collision, and are thus never responsible for the crash. They can always hold someone accountable for losses. The question is, whether the crash was the fault of the driver of the vehicle the passengers were riding on or was the crash the fault of a different vehicle?
If the crash was caused by a bus driver, then passengers can pursue a case against a bus driver. If the bus driver dies, as occurred in this recent Baltimore crash, a claim could be pursued against the estate of the bus driver. Of course, a bus driver may not have a ton of money to pay for damages caused by the crash. It is usually preferable to sue the company employing the bus driver.
The company which employed the bus driver could be held accountable if that company failed to ensure the driver was well-qualified, had an appropriate license, and did not have a long history of serious crashes. If the bus company is considered negligent in its own right for failing to screen the driver or for having other substandard policies, this is one possible legal argument a victim could make to recover compensation.
The bus driver who was killed in the recent crash, for example, was not authorized to operate the vehicle. The fact that he was missing a Medical Examiner's Certificate, which federal regulations require, could mean the bus company was negligent in allowing him to drive.
Bus companies can also be held accountable for negligent actions taken by on-duty staff members due to agency rules. An attorney can help a bus crash victim to determine if that victim has a case against the bus company.