East Brunswick Bus Accident Attorney

bus accident New Jersey

Buses remain a very common form of transportation across New Jersey and the United States. According to Statista, “The number of U.S. bus passenger trips reached almost 3.5 billion in 2023.” Though buses are relatively safe for passengers, they can be particularly dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists, and those in smaller vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board has estimated that in 2009 alone more than 250 people were killed and 20,000 people were injured in bus accidents.

Bus accidents can be devastating for individual victims as well as their families. It is therefore always advisable to seek experienced legal counsel if you or someone that you love has been involved in a bus collision. The East Brunswick bus accident attorneys at Beninato & Matrafajlo are here to help you. Our legal team is committed to compassionate and aggressive advocacy that puts the needs of clients first. In fact, our law firm has recovered over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for accident victims across New Jersey. Don’t wait to get help if you’ve been injured. We are here to serve your needs and help make your life better. Call us today for a risk-free case evaluation at 908-355-7100.

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

Buses can be difficult to operate in the best of circumstances. Bus drivers must get a commercial drivers license and are expected to be very familiar with how their vehicle operates. Younger and thus more inexperienced bus drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions. According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, “In a series of articles different aspects of the aetiology of bus drivers’ accidents will be highlighted. The results presented indicate a strong negative association of experience with accident risk, modified to a certain extent by age.” Several other factors could contribute to bus accidents.

  • Driver Error: It is estimated that 93% of all car accidents involve some amount of human error. This tends to also be the case with bus accidents. Errors could occur on the part of bus drivers or third parties that collided with the bus. Speeding remains one of the most common instances of driver error.
  • Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, and ice can dramatically increase the odds that a crash will take place. Bus drivers should accommodate for these conditions by slowing down and driving defensively.
  • Mechanical Failures: Unlike passenger vehicles, buses are extremely heavy, and they have very high utilization rates. This can lead to numerous vehicle system failures, including tire blowouts, steering problems, and brake failures.
  • Traffic Violations: Bus accidents are often due to traffic violations. In particular, many crashes involve drivers making dangerous left turns into the path of other vehicles.
  • Driver Fatigue: Another major cause of bus accidents is driver fatigue. The Centers for Disease Control have estimated that staying awake for only 17 hours can reduce a person’s ability to drive safely equal to driving with a BAC of 0.07%.
  • Driver Intoxication: A driver may become intoxicated by any number of substances, not just alcohol. In fact, many collisions involve drivers who were inadvertently impaired by their prescriptions or over-the-counter medications.

Bus crashes can be very complex events. The factors that contribute to any bus collision can take place hours, days, weeks, or months beforehand. There are typically several different factors that could contribute to a collision. In order to get a clear picture of what happened, investigators may need to perform accident reconstruction. This is the scientific approach to analyzing an accident scene in order to determine what happened.

Demonstrating Negligence In Bus Accidents

In order to win any bus accident claim involving a serious injury, plaintiffs will have to demonstrate negligence. Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise a standard of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances, leading to the harm of another person. It is a key element in many personal injury claims. There are four main elements that must be demonstrated in any negligence claim.

  • Duty of Care: The defendant had a legal obligation to exercise a standard of care in order to avoid causing harm to others. In general, bus drivers do have a legal duty to protect their passengers and avoid causing harm to other drivers or pedestrians on the roadway.
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act as a reasonably competent person would in a similar situation. A breach may occur through actions such as speeding. Or a breach may occur due to some omission, such as failing to repair a damaged tire.
  • Causation: The breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries or damages. Causation involves two components.
    • (i) Actual Cause: This involves establishing that harm would not have occurred “but for” the actions of the defendant.
    • (ii) Proximate Cause: This involves establishing whether the harm that occurred was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions.
  • Damages: The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the breach by the defendant. Damages can be economic, such as medical expenses and lost wages. They can also be non-economic, such as the pain and suffering that the plaintiff experiences.

New Jersey is one of a handful of states that operate under a no-fault insurance model. Every driver must have Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance, according to N.J.S.A. 39:6A-3.2. As such, there is not always a need for an injured person to demonstrate that one party or another was liable for a collision. When a person is seriously injured in New Jersey, they can pursue a negligence claim. A “serious injury” could include “death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system.” 

Different Sources of Liability For Bus Accidents 

Bus companies are considered common carriers under the law, and their drivers are held to a very high standard in terms of safety. According to Squaw ValleySki Corp. v. Superior Court, “This elevated standard of care for common carriers has its origin in English common law. It is based on a recognition that the privilege of serving the public as a common carrier necessarily entails great responsibility, requiring common carriers to exercise a high duty of care towards their customers.” There are several different entities that could be liable for a bus crash.

  • Bus Drivers: A bus driver could potentially be liable for a collision if they were negligent.
  • Bus Company: Generally speaking, employers are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees. This is true insofar as the employees were working within the course and scope of their job duties.
  • Bus Manufacturers: If an accident was caused by a defect with a bus, the company that made the bus (or its component parts) could be liable through a product liability claim.
  • Maintenance Providers: A third-party company that had an obligation to maintain a bus could be liable for a crash. This would be true if their failure to perform their duties was a contributing factor to an incident.
  • Government Entities: Buses are run by private companies as well as government agencies. A government agency such as the New Jersey Transit Corporation could be liable if they failed to train drivers or were otherwise negligent in their operations. 

Evidence collected after any collision can begin to reveal all of the potentially liable parties. One of the key pieces of evidence that should be inspected after any collision is surveillance footage from within and around the bus. This can help reveal what a bus driver was doing immediately prior to any collision. It is very common that there could be multiple liable parties for any bus accident, especially if a bus was being chartered. 

What To Do After A Bus Accident 

It can be difficult to know where to begin after any bus collision. These events can be confusing and traumatic for victims. Those injured in bus accidents may be left with high medical bills and need to take extensive periods of time off of work. This can negatively impact entire families who may depend on the income of the person who must now recover. If you’re concerned about your future after a bus accident, there are several steps that you should take.

  • Seek Medical Attention: Always seek medical attention after any bus accident. Many of the injuries from bus accidents are internal and not immediately obvious. Delaying medical care can provide ammunition for insurance companies, who may argue that you were not that seriously injured to begin with.
  • Report The Incident: All bus accidents should be reported to the police. The police will begin investigating what happened and create an accident report that can prove to be very useful later on.
  • Collect Information: It is important to gather as many records as possible after a crash. This includes contact information for witnesses. It also includes preserving medical records if you’ve been injured.
  • Consult With A Bus Accident Attorney: A bus accident attorney can evaluate the unique facts of your case and let you know what your rights are. They can also take steps to help you financially recover for any damages that you sustained.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires buses that can carry 16 or more passengers to have at least $5,000,000 worth of liability coverage. Any person injured in a bus accident is able to pursue damages through a civil claim. But this is a nearly impossible task for most people to undertake entirely on their own. Bus companies and their insurance providers will do everything in their power to avoid responsibility for crashes. Hiring an attorney is a crucial first step towards getting a positive outcome following any bus accident.

Getting Legal Help After A Bus Accident

Navigating the aftermath of a bus accident can be a daunting and complex process. This is especially true when victims must contend with medical bills, lost wages, and insurance claims. Our law firm is committed to providing compassionate legal representation so that you can focus on healing. We understand the challenges that often come with moving forward after a bus accident and are committed to advocating for your rights at every step of the legal process. If you’ve been impacted by a New Jersey bus accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Our experienced East Brunswick bus accident attorneys at Beninato & Matrafajlo have a proven track record in handling bus accident claims. We work tirelessly to help get our clients the best outcome possible. If that requires us to take any case all the way to trial, that is exactly what we will do in order to achieve a just resolution. Whether you just have legal questions or are thinking about hiring an attorney, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 908-355-7100.

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are no up-front costs to hiring a bus accident attorney, and they only get paid by the opposing party if they are able to successfully resolve your case.

Every case is different. However, factors that will contribute to the value of any case will typically include the presence of lost wages and the severity of a person’s injuries.

There could be numerous liable parties for a bus accident. But in most situations, a bus company could face liability if their driver was negligent and working at the time of a collision.

Traveling at unsafe speeds remains a major cause of bus accidents. Many collisions are also due to bus drivers making dangerous turns without checking their blind spots.

No two cases are exactly the same. Some cases may settle in a few months, while others could take several years.