In the United States in 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported almost 5,000 fatal crashes involving buses and large trucks. In ten years, transit buses accounted for 38 percent of buses involved in fatal crashes, and school buses accounted for 35 percent.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), riders took more than 274 million trips in any of the public bus systems in Texas in 2019. In 2021, Texas had 2,550 bus and 1,187 school bus crashes. Of those crashes, 21 resulted in at least one or more fatalities.
Why Choose Our Austin Bus Accident Attorneys At Shaw Cowart?
If you have been involved in a bus crash in Texas, it’s important to seek legal representation to protect your rights and secure fair compensation for your injuries. The law firm of Shaw Cowart LLP is experienced in handling bus crash cases and can provide you with the expert guidance and support you need.
Whether you are the injured passenger of a bus or the injured passenger of another vehicle involved in a bus collision, you may be able to pursue maximum compensation in a claim handled by the experienced Austin, TX, lawyers at Shaw Cowart LLP. With millions in successful jury verdicts and settlements, our personal injury lawyer in Austin will take your case with pride.
Get in touch with us today for your free, no-obligation case review of your bus accident.
What Are the Common Causes of Bus Accidents In Austin?
Given the size and weight of most buses, a collision involving a much smaller occupant vehicle can easily cause devastation.
Like all motor vehicle accidents, there are many ways a bus accident may occur. In claims handled by our personal injury lawyers, we are dealing with crashes caused by negligence, which is the failure to exercise reasonable care. Some examples of this are drunk driving or distracted driving. If the driver you’ve been hit by was a drunk driver, contact our drunk driver attorneys in Austin. More examples of negligence that can cause a bus accident include:
- Inadequate training
- Bad hiring practices
- Defective bus parts
- Inadequate bus maintenance
- Lack of city road maintenance
- Lack of road signage, such as clearance warnings above tunnels
In these situations, identifying the cause is not always as simple as pointing the finger at a careless bus operator. The source of carelessness could be traced all the way back to the manufacturer of a defective mechanical component, for example. It takes the skill and experience of a qualified attorney to first determine who is responsible, and then to pursue compensation from this party. If you or someone you love has been in a motor vehicle accident, reach out to our car accident lawyers in Austin.
What Are Common Injuries In Bus Accident Cases?
Injuries in bus accident cases largely depend on the type of vehicle or object the bus collides with. If a bus crashes into a smaller vehicle, like a sedan, coup, or SUV, that vehicle will likely be totaled, and individuals inside the car can sustain a range of minor to severe injuries.
Injuries in a bus accident case can consist of the following:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Burn Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Multiple Organ Failure
- Chronic Pain
- Sprains and Broken Bones
- Cuts and Lacerations
If a bus collides with a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian, this will likely result in the fatality of the other individual. If you were struck by a bus, be sure to contact our pedestrian accident attorneys in Austin immediately.
Buses colliding with objects, such as walls, poles, or other stationary items, can also result in serious injury and fatalities for those on board the bus as it crashes.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Bus Accident Cases in Austin?
In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim for most personal injury claims, including bus accidents. There may be extenuating circumstances, and you should not discourage yourself from contacting our attorneys based on the statute of limitations.
There may be factors in your case that shorten or extend this timeline, including whether someone died as a result of the accident, and whether the collision involves a state or city employee. You should contact us as soon as possible to find out what the options are in your case, given the timeline of events.
Statute Of Limitations For Public Vs. Private Buses In Texas
As previously discussed, the statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury cases in Texas. However, there’s a huge difference in timeline and process, depending on if the bus was publicly or privately owned.
If the bus was privately owned, bringing suit against that charter, motorcoach, tour, shuttle, or party bus is a likely more straightforward process, and the current statute of limitations expectations still stand as written.
However, this is not the case for public buses in Texas. As reported by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there is an interconnected web of agencies and municipalities responsible for the 58 public bus districts in Texas.
These bus districts are as follows:
- Eight are Metro Transit Authorities, serving areas with 200,000 or more residents. They utilize sales tax to support operations.
- 31 Urban Districts serving areas with 50,000 to 199,999 residents.
- 36 are Rural Districts, serving areas with fewer than 50,000 residents.
This doesn’t include Texas’s 1,022 school districts and the buses that service over 5,156,972 school-age children.
Understanding these bussing districts is key to understanding what governmental entity or network of governmental agencies a victim will bring their case against.
Public Buses And The Texas Tort Claims Act
The first step to filing a claim against a government entity responsible for running the bus that injured you is to give proper notice within, at maximum, 180 days (six months). Many municipalities and counties (like Houston and Austin) shorten that notice window to as few as 45 days due to a provision in the Texas Tort Claims Act.
Each municipality, county, and agency has a different process for filing the claim, providing the instructions and forms online on how to do so. That’s why it’s so vital to your case to talk to an attorney to help you start the paperwork as soon as you know you will be filing a suit.
You should make sure you are following those instructions precisely. Here is what is required by law that you provide in your notice of claim, as dictated by the Texas Tort Claims Act:
- The damage or injury claimed
- The time and place of the incident
- The incident
Getting Compensation In Austin Bus Accident Cases
Compensation in Texas bus accident cases can greatly vary. While we cannot guarantee specific dollar amounts, we can inform you what variables may impact damages received in your bus accident case.
Texas caps damages at $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident if you were in an accident with a public bus. How that breaks down is that if a public bus crashes on the highway, injuring ten people, those damages will be capped at $500,000 for the entire incident. Those ten people may only be able to receive $50,000 as victims in the case.
These caps may be lower depending on the type of public bus, lowered to $300,000 total per incident and $100,000 per person.
What Kind of Compensation Should I Expect?
Compensation recovery cannot be guaranteed in any situation, but we tirelessly pursue monetary awards on behalf of our clients. In successful bus accident claims, compensatory damages are awarded based on economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages with a clear monetary cost. These are the real financial tolls stemming from your bus accident or injury, costs such as:
- Medical expenses, present and future
- Loss of income
- Costs of rehabilitation
- Costs of necessary in-home modifications
There may be other types of damages awarded to you, depending on the specifics of the case. Another may be the concept of non-economic damages. This damage type is when you experience detriments due to your bus accident that do not have a clear financial price. Examples of non-economic damages are:
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Anxiety, Depression, or PTSD
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Consortium
In some cases, death may even be the result of a bus accident in Austin. If this is your unfortunate circumstance, our wrongful death attorneys in Austin are here to help.
Who Should I Speak to First Following a Bus Accident Case?
After reporting the crash to the police and getting medical care, you should contact our attorneys. Insurance companies tend to want to close out cases as quickly and cheaply as possible, and you are likely to hear from them soon after the accident.
While you should certainly report the accident to your insurer, don’t accept any settlements until you speak to our attorneys. You may be due much more compensation than their initial offer. We know how to calculate the potential damages in our clients’ cases to ensure settlement offers are fair.
What Kind of Evidence Should I Collect?
While our attorneys do all of the heavy lifting in the case, there may be times that we ask you to bring us certain documents or other items to support your claim. Examples include:
- Medical bills
- Records related to diagnoses and recommended treatments
- Vehicle repair bills
- Pictures of your injury, the vehicles, the scene, or other images that may be relevant
- Eyewitness contact information
- Any emails, texts, or other correspondence with the bus company, insurance company, or other relevant parties
You can rely on us to keep the lines of communication open. We will make sure you are part of the process and that you have the opportunity to help your case whenever possible.
How Can I Prepare For My Bus Accident Case to Go to Court?
Many bus accident claims are settled outside of the courtroom, in negotiations that occur before a court date or while the trial is ongoing. If a case does go to court, our experienced trial attorneys are prepared to represent the case assertively and competently. We will make sure you know how to prepare if the situation arises, but rest assured that we handle all aspects of the case while you focus on getting on the path to recovery from your injury.
In the meantime, here are a few steps to take now:
- Arrange a consultation with our attorneys
- Keep a journal so that you can jot down anything you remember about the accident
- Keep track of your medical expenses and what your doctor tells you about your injuries
How Long Can a Bus Accident Case Take?
It may take anywhere between a few months and several years to resolve a bus accident case. We work efficiently, but we do not cut corners or back down to powerful opponents. Of course, injury victims want to resolve these issues as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives – a priority we take to heart. Trust us to pursue the best strategy in your case while keeping your timeline in mind.
Contact An Austin Bus Accident Lawyer Today
Therefore, if you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident in Austin or the surrounding areas of Texas, contact Shaw Cowart now to find out if you have a case, at 512-499-8900. We know just how devastating catastrophic injuries are, and we are passionate about advocating on behalf of the victims of negligence in our state.
By contacting us for a free consultation, you can discuss the details of your case with a qualified personal injury law team and learn more about your legal options.
Don’t hesitate to take action and contact Shaw Cowart LLP today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step towards achieving a successful outcome in your case.