There are over 34,000 registered buses on the road in the state of Illinois, including mass transit, school, and tour buses. At peak times, passengers in Chicago can take upwards of one million Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus rides per day, not to mention the millions of Illinois children riding the bus to and from school.
With so many bus rides on a daily basis, the risk for injuries is immense, and not only to the passengers. Other nearby motorists and pedestrians are also vulnerable, given how much the length and size of buses can easily create blind spots, while their weight can cause them to roll over more easily.
And make no mistake, when bus accident injuries happen, they can be extreme. Buses can weigh as much as 30 tons, exposing bus accident victims to broken bones, lacerations, head trauma, spinal damage, lost limbs, paralysis, coma, and even death.
Those who have suffered serious injuries in a bus accident may be eligible to obtain financial compensation. If this happened to you, contact the Chicago bus accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC. For a free case evaluation, call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative.
Why Do Chicago Bus Accidents Happen?
While there are any number of reasons why a bus accident may happen, some of the most common causes can include the following:
Bus Driver Errors – The bus drivers themselves are frequently responsible for Chicago bus accidents, whether through inexperience, distraction, or sheer negligence. Driving a large bus is difficult, particularly on crowded city streets, but bus drivers are required to receive extensive training to obtain certification. If this training proves inadequate, the companies or government agencies employing the drivers should be held financially liable for their negligent actions while on duty.
Another Driver’s Errors – By engaging in negligent actions, such as following too closely or making an illegal turn, another driver on the road can cause an accident with a bus.
Bad Weather Conditions – Rainy, snowy, or windy weather can create dangerous conditions in which buses may travel, increasing the likelihood of a bus accident.
Poor Road Conditions – Potholes or other poor road conditions may result in a bus accident.
Bus Malfunction – If a bus has a defective condition that causes it to malfunction, such as brake failure, a serious accident could result for which the manufacturer might be liable.
What are the Different Types of Bus Accidents in Illinois?
There are many kinds of buses on which passengers may travel, and therefore many kinds of bus accidents. Here are some of the different types of bus accidents:
City Bus Accidents – Every year, passengers are hurt in crashes in CTA buses, as are drivers of other vehicles or pedestrians who are struck by these buses.
School Bus Accidents – Children can be injured in a school bus because of the negligence of a bus driver, whether that person is employed by a school district or a third-party transportation company contracted by the district.
Tour Bus Accidents – When private tour bus companies fail to properly hire and train drivers, serious tour bus accidents can result.
Intercity Bus Accidents – Large buses that travel between cities, such as those owned by Greyhound or Megabus, are sometimes poorly maintained or driven, which can lead to dangerous high-speed accidents.
Why Are Buses More Dangerous?
A bus accident may result in worse injuries than one involving a regular passenger vehicle for many reasons, including the following:
- Buses are larger, requiring more time to slow down or stop.
- A bus’s weight can cause a more forceful collision.
- Buses do not always offer their drivers the best vantage point with which the see the road, other vehicles, and pedestrians.
- Bus drivers are sometimes not sufficiently trained or supervised.
- Older buses may not have the latest safety equipment.
- The design and weight distribution of buses may make them more likely to roll over.
Who Gets Injured in Bus Crashes?
While passengers on a bus can be injured in bus crashes, the majority of injuries and deaths occur among the drivers and passengers of other vehicles that are involved in accidents with buses, since they are colliding with much larger vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by buses are also likely to suffer death or serious injuries. From 2009 to 2018, for example, 70 percent of the injuries in school bus crashes occurred among the occupants of the vehicles colliding with the buses.
When bus occupants are injured, it is often the bus driver who stands the greatest chance of dying, given his or her location on the bus.
Can a Bus Driver’s Employer Be Pursued?
In most cases, both the driver and the driver’s employer can be pursued for damages.
As long as the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment, that driver is considered to be an agent of his or her employer, meaning the employer is liable for the driver’s actions.
This is advantageous to the injured party since the employer will have more money available for compensation than the driver of the bus. A private company will likely have an insurance company or a fund to respond to lawsuits, while a government entity such as the CTA settles numerous claims each year.
Can Both Public and Private Bus Companies Be Sued?
Both public and private companies can be sued following a bus accident, though there are some differences between these types of entities.
Many of the possible defendants in a bus accident lawsuit are government entities, such as the CTA or a school district. These agencies have the same degree of liability as a private defendant.
However, the statute of limitations in a lawsuit against the government is typically one year instead of two (with certain exceptions). Another difference is that the governmental entity must be given notice of the claim before filing a claim or lawsuit; this claim must contain certain basic information, such as a brief description of what happened in the accident.
Regardless of the nature of the defendant, victims are still entitled under Illinois law to recover economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. When a bus accident results in death, the deceased’s surviving family can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.
When Is a Bus Operator and Company at Fault for an Accident?
A bus operator and his or her employer are at fault for a bus accident if it can be shown that the driver breached the duty of care.
A bus company’s standard of care is slightly higher than that of other vehicles because it is a common carrier, defined in Illinois under the Common Carrier Liability. As a common carrier, the company must take measures to ensure that a bus’s passengers are safe, while the bus driver must maintain the highest safety standards on the road. Some of the duties imposed under this law include:
- Keeping eyes on the road at all times.
- Not texting while operating the bus.
- Ensuring that bus passengers are kept safe from the actions of other bus passengers.
- Obeying all traffic laws.
- Hiring qualified bus drivers and training them properly.
- Maintaining the buses and ensuring they are in good repair.
If the bus driver or company breaches has breached this duty of care and causes a bus accident, an injured victim may be eligible to recover financial compensation.
What Evidence Can Help Build a Bus Accident Claim?
For a successful bus accident claim, it is important to document the incident as much as possible. Often a lawyer can help with this process by hiring experts to help reconstruct the scene of the accident or locating witnesses. Some important evidence may include the following:
- Pictures of the Scene
- Pictures of Vehicular Damage
- Witness Statements
- Medical Records
- Pictures of Injuries
- Expert Accident Reconstruction
- Toxicology Tests of the Driver(s)
Contact GWC’s Chicago Bus Accident Lawyers Today
If you or your loved one have sustained serious injuries in a Chicagoland bus accident, whether it is a CTA or Pace bus, a tour bus, a school bus, or an intercity bus, do what so many other innocent victims have done before you and turn to the dedicated Chicago bus accident lawyers at GWC.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our injured clients, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. No other firm is more respected, or feared, by its opponents, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our injury attorneys have the experience, the determination, and the reputation of success necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Chicago bus accident lawyers. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.