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Bus accidents can result in severe, lifelong injuries and costly medical treatment. Fortunately, you do not have to face this situation alone. The Virginia bus accident lawyers at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers are ready to fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Let us put our experience to work for you. We represent clients throughout Hampton Roads and have 9 office locations including Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are about 1 million registered buses in the United States. Kids use them to get to school every day, commuters use them to get to work, and travelers rely on them to shuttle from the airport. Buses are a relatively safe form of transportation. However, because of their enormous size and weight, these vehicles can cause catastrophic damage when involved in accidents. 

Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has decades of experience handling cases involving school buses, charter buses, and public transit. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for accident victims injured at little to no fault of their own. Let our Virginia bus crash lawyers put that experience to work for you. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Virginia Bus Accident Statistics

According to recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of bus accident fatalities has been steadily decreasing nationwide since the 1970s. Still, in 2020 alone, the DOT reported 14,000 injuries and 176 fatalities caused by bus-related crashes. A further 24,000 bus accidents resulted in property damage. 

Though bus accidents account for a relatively small percentage of traffic crashes annually in Virginia, they occur more frequently than you may think. Further, because buses can carry dozens of passengers, a single bus accident can injure many more individuals than crashes involving smaller vehicles. 

In 2022 alone, the Virginia Highway Safety Office reported 486 bus crashes resulting in fatalities, injuries, or property damage. Interestingly, over 63 percent of Virginia bus accidents were caused by drivers in other vehicles rather than by bus drivers. Driver errors giving rise to these accidents included:

  • Failure to yield 
  • Following too closely 
  • Improper turns, lane changes, backing, or passing
  • Running traffic lights
  • Avoiding other vehicles

Similarly, in 2021, the Highway Safety Office reported 399 bus accidents resulting in deaths, injuries, or property damage. Again, bus drivers apparently were not to blame for most of these accidents.

Understanding Laws Impacting Bus Accident Lawsuits

Bus drivers and operators must comply with strict federal and state laws when operating their vehicles, especially when transporting passengers. This section explores some of these regulations.

Federal Bus Regulations

On the national level, bus drivers engaged in “interstate commerce” must abide by federal laws and regulations. Commercial bus drivers are engaged in interstate commerce when transporting passengers between states for a money-making purpose. For example, a driver or charter company hired to transport a busload of passengers from Virginia Beach to Orlando would be engaged in interstate commerce.

Federal regulations require bus drivers to take special precautions to avoid harming others on the road. One of the most important regulations is the hours-of-service limitations, which sets a 10-hour driving limit when transporting passengers. Drivers must also take regular breaks of at least 8 consecutive hours to avoid accidents caused by driver fatigue. Further, they may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

Interstate drivers must also complete a daily post-trip inspection report at the end of their shifts. These reports should note any problems found that could impact bus safety for future passengers. If problems are found, the responsible party must follow up and correct them before putting the bus back in service.

Virginia Bus Regulations

When driving, bus drivers are subject to the same traffic safety laws as other road users. These include right-of-way, passing, and turning rules. Of course, all Virginia bus drivers must also obtain a Commercial Driver’s License before operating a bus or other commercial motor vehicle. 

In the interest of protecting minors, Virginia also has specific laws pertaining to school bus safety. These include the following: 

  • Speed Limits – The maximum speed limit for school buses is 45 mph or the minimum speed allowable, whichever is greater, on any highway where the maximum speed limit is 55 mph or less, and 60 mph on all interstate highways and on other highways where the maximum speed limit is more than 55 miles per hour. 
  • Inspections – School buses must be inspected by a qualified mechanic every 45 school days.
  • No Cellphones While Driving – Bus drivers cannot use any wireless telecommunications device, whether handheld or otherwise, while driving a school bus, except in case of an emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked for the purposes of dispatching.
  • Other Drivers Must Stop – Other motor vehicle operators must come to a complete stop when approaching a school bus that is picking up or dropping off passengers until the roadway is clear.

Importantly, city or state-funded transportation systems, such as school bus systems and municipal transport, enjoy many protections against civil lawsuits. It is still possible to hold these entities accountable when they cause accidents, but these cases require the attention of a skilled attorney. 

No matter the circumstances, Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has the skills and experience needed to evaluate your case and handle it from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

All accidents, including those involving buses, are unique and require the individualized attention of a skilled personal injury attorney. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we handle all matters that pass through our doors on a case-by-case basis. That said, causation patterns do emerge when looking at bus accidents. Some of the most common causes of bus accidents we see include:

1. Failure to Yield

A failure-to-yield accident occurs when one driver violates another’s right of way. Examples include failure to stop and check for vehicles at stop signs, turning left against oncoming traffic, not stopping before entering certain highways, and making illegal right turns at red lights. The sheer weight of an oncoming bus makes failing to yield particularly dangerous.

2. Following Too Closely

Because buses are so large, they require more time to stop than smaller vehicles. Therefore, both bus drivers and other road users should give each other ample room to maneuver. Failure to do so can lead to serious accidents.

3. Improper Lane Changes or Passing

A bus attempting to pass or switch lanes can easily sideswipe other vehicles. The fact that buses have very large blind spots compared to smaller vehicles does not help. To avoid these accidents, Virginia law provides as follows: “Any vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at least two feet to the left of the overtaken vehicle and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle.”

4. Running Traffic Lights

All road users, including bus drivers, must obey traffic light signals. This may seem obvious, and it is. But you would be surprised how often this basic rule of the road is violated.

5. Poor Road and Weather Conditions

Poor environmental conditions are another common cause of accidents. Important factors identified by the Federal Highway Administration include air temperature/humidity, wind speed, precipitation, fog, pavement temperature, pavement condition, and water levels.

6. Manufacturing Defects and Poor Maintenance

Bus drivers and common carriers must ensure their buses are properly maintained when in service. As discussed above, Virginia school buses must undergo safety inspections every 45 school days, and bus drivers operating in interstate commerce must inspect their buses at the end of each shift for maintenance issues. 

Poor maintenance can expose responsible parties to liability. Further, defective bus parts can lead to product liability for manufacturers and distributors.

7. Driver Distraction and Inattention

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021. From cell phones and passengers to intercoms and GPS navigators, bus drivers may be exposed to all sorts of distractions when operating their vehicles.

Common Injuries Sustained in Bus Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration considers buses to be one of the safest types of passenger transportation. Generally speaking, this is true. However, when bus accidents do occur, the results can be devastating. 

In part, this is because bus passengers usually do not wear seat belts and are often standing or moving around during a collision. Further, due to their large size, passengers in smaller motor vehicles and pedestrians hit by a bus are at high risk of suffering catastrophic injuries. Common injuries sustained in bus accidents include:

1. Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries, also known as SCIs, damage the nerves connecting the brain to the rest of the body through the spine. These injuries can be extremely serious. In many cases, victims are left fully or partially paralyzed below the point of injury along the spine.

2. Traumatic Brain Injuries

Bus crash victims sometimes suffer traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs. These injuries arise when an outside impact either penetrates the skull or throws the patient so forcefully that their brain strikes against the inside of the skull. Concussions are a common kind of TBI and, in serious cases, can cause serious long-term consequences, including memory loss, intense headaches, and mood swings.

3. Neck Injuries

One of the most common forms of neck injury is whiplash, which occurs when the sudden impact of an accident causes the neck to “whip” back and forth. Whiplash symptoms often take a few days to manifest. That said, it can lead to serious pain and long-lasting damage to the neck.

4. Broken Bones

It is also not unusual for bus accident victims to suffer broken bones and fractures to areas like the wrist, ankle, pelvis, ribs, and beyond. Again, since many bus passengers do not wear seatbelts, they are at a higher risk of suffering this kind of injury in the event of an accident.

Compensation Available Through a Bus Accident Lawsuit

Injuries from a bus accident often leave victims facing overwhelming medical bills. The problem compounds when their injuries also leave them unable to work during recovery. In many cases, especially those involving lifelong injuries or death, no amount of money can truly make up for the loss. 

Even so, if you were injured in a bus accident at little to no fault of your own, you may be entitled to significant compensation from the at-fault party. The legal team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can help you recover damages for things like:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost income from work
  • Property damage reimbursement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Wrongful death

We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Let us put our experience to work for you. You can learn more by exploring our case results here.

What To Do After a Bus Accident

  1. Check for Injuries – Start by checking yourself and others nearby for injuries. Even seemingly minor issues, like dizziness or disorientation, can be symptoms of serious internal injuries. The bus driver will likely call 911, but if they are incapacitated, you may need to do so yourself. 
  2. Follow the Bus Driver’s Instructions – If you are a bus passenger, follow the driver’s instructions. They will tell you how to exit the vehicle to avoid further injury. If it is safe to do so, drivers of other vehicles involved in the crash can move off the roadway so other vehicles can pass. 
  3. Exchange Information – All drivers and passengers involved in the collision should exchange contact and insurance information. There is no need to discuss the cause of the accident. Keep your cool and wait to speak with an attorney. 
  4. Talk to Dispatched Police – When the dispatched officers arrive, ask them for their name and badge number. Make sure to give them your account of the events so they can factor it into their report. 
  5. Document the Scene – If you are able to, take pictures and videos of the scene. Visual footage is an important form of evidence and may prove helpful during the investigation and claims process. 
  6. Seek Medical Attention – Even if you walk away from the collision without needing to go to the hospital, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes, the adrenaline released by your body after an accident can mask symptoms of serious injuries that won’t manifest for several days. A doctor will know what to look for and can diagnose and document your injuries.
  7. Avoid Talking to Insurers – Finally, avoid discussing the accident with insurance adjusters. They might record what you say, and a seemingly innocent comment can harm your insurance claim down the road. Instead, schedule a consultation with a Virginia bus accident attorney who can help you understand your full legal rights and options.

Why Hire a Bus Accident Lawyer From Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers?

When working with Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, you can rest assured that your case is being handled by the best of the best. Our team has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including the second-highest car crash verdict recorded in Virginia in 2022. You do not have to take our word for it—our client testimonials speak for themselves. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you.

Our Virginia Bus Accident Lawyers Can Help

Hiring an attorney in a Virginia bus accident case can lift a huge burden off your shoulders. Rather than fighting with insurance companies and dealing with the financial repercussions of the accident alone, let the legal team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers investigate your case and build a solid claim on your behalf. 

Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled Virginia bus accident lawyer. We have locations throughout Hampton Roads: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, the Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.

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