Contact Us After a Serious Bus Collision
More than 35,000 people nationwide have sustained injuries on large buses and more than 250 of them died in 2016, according to recent crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These staggering statistics can include any city or neighborhood in the county, including Colorado. People in and around Boulder ride buses every day. They take public transportation, they ride private carriers long distance, and they take the bus to school. And, like the rest of the country, when Boulder citizens fall victim to bus accidents, their lives can turn upside down.
If you or your child were injured in a bus accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Call one of the experienced Boulder personal injury lawyers at Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 665-2929 to find out how we may be able to help.
The Tenge Law Firm, LLC’s Results in Personal Injury Cases
The team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC has years of experience negotiating, settling, and litigating personal injury cases, including those that involve bus accidents. We have recently won verdicts and negotiated settlements for our clients that range from $200,000 to well over $1,000,000. These are examples of past results and do not guarantee outcomes. Every case and client has unique facts and circumstances, but the lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC always work their hardest work to achieve the best outcome possible.
Buses That Service Boulder
Boulder has a vibrant public transportation system that allows numerous residents and visitors to easily get around the city. These uses are overseen by the Regional Transportation District (RTD), which also provides connecting routes to Denver. But it is not only government buses that can be involved in serious accidents, and the process for filing a claim may vary depending on what company or agency owned the bus.
Government vehicles have a more stringent process for filing auto accident claims and these agencies are far more likely to reject your claim if you do not have an experienced attorney at your side. In contrast, cases against private companies may be more complicated, involving multiple individuals or groups that are liable for your injuries, but you will have more time to file a claim. Determining what type of bus caused your accident and whether it was run by a private or public company may drastically change the process for your claim.
The types of buses that operate throughout Boulder include:
- Public buses operated by the RTD
- School buses operated by Boulder Valley School District (BVSD)
- University of Colorado Boulder Buff Bus
- Shuttle buses for hotels
- GreenRide Shuttle to and from Boulder Municipal Airport
- SkyRide Bus between Boulder and Denver International Airport
- Church buses
- The Boulder Lift, which operates party buses and transportation to Red Rock Amphitheater
- Charter buses for tour companies and travel agencies
- Interstate buses such as Greyhound or Megabus
Types of Bus Accidents
Like all vehicles, buses are rigorously tested and reviewed before they can be put on the road, but they also have their own unique dangers. They are significantly larger than passenger vehicles and are more comparable to large semi-trucks in terms of weight and size. As a result of this, drivers must be attentive at all times to avoid losing control. Speeding, becoming distracted, or neglecting to schedule regular maintenance can lead to disastrous accidents that injure both other drivers and occupants.
As with other large vehicles, buses can be involved in:
Rollover accidents: Because buses are higher up than passenger vehicles, the center of gravity is also raised up. This is a major factor in rollover accidents, which occur when a bus’s weight is shifted too far to one side, causing the entire vehicle to tip over. Occupants, even if they are wearing safety restraints, can suffer catastrophic injuries. In turn, other drivers can become crushed underneath the bus or be struck by it as it slides across the road.
Rear-end collisions: The size and weight of large buses mean they need significantly more time to stop when compared to smaller vehicles. If the driver is inattentive, or if a bus’s brakes are faulty, the bus can easily crash into other vehicles in front of it.
Underride accidents: Similarly, the buses themselves may become a road hazard. If a driver suddenly brakes or changes lanes, vehicles behind them may not be able to stop in time. This can be especially dangerous on highways where passenger cars are traveling at high speeds, which can lead to an underride accident where the smaller vehicle gets pulled under the bus’s back wheels. These terrifying events are often fatal and drivers who do survive can suffer traumatizing injuries.
Side-swipes: Many drivers know that buses have large blind spots, meaning any vehicle driving directly behind the bus or to either side of its back tires are not visible to the bus driver. Colorado drivers are taught to not linger in these areas and to quickly pass a bus or change lanes to be more visible. However, sideswipes can still occur if the bus driver is inattentive and does not properly check their mirrors, fails to turn on their turn signal, or suddenly changes lanes without providing other drivers enough time to slow down.Any one of these accidents can lead to serious injuries to both occupants and other drivers. If negligence was involved, either on the part of the bus driver, the bus company, or the bus’s manufacturer, then you may be eligible for compensation.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
A bus accident can cause catastrophic damage to vehicles outside the bus and passengers inside it, particularly when the bus lacks safety restraints or passengers aren’t wearing said restraints. Some common injuries that might occur in a bus accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Orthopedic injuries, such as broken bones and fractures
- Crush injuries
- Serious lacerations
- Soft tissue injuries to the neck and back
In the most serious accidents, occupants and other drivers may not walk away at all. If negligence caused the death of your loved one, you may be eligible for a wrongful death claim against the bus driver or company who caused your tragic loss.
Contributors to Bus Accidents
A wide array of parties might be liable for your injuries, whether you were a passenger, or another driver involved in a bus accident. Determining which of them has responsibility for paying damages to victims can be complicated, especially because separate parties may own, operate, and maintain a single bus. In our experience at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, any of the following parties may bear some or all of the fault for causing a bus accident, and some or all of the liability for paying for the damages it caused:
- Bus drivers who break traffic laws and put their passengers and the public at risk by speeding, driving while distracted, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving while fatigued.
- Bus owners who have responsibility for maintaining buses in proper working condition and hiring and training competent drivers to operate them.
- Maintenance companies who have been contracted to maintain and owe a duty to bus owners and the public to do their jobs with sufficient care.
- Bus or bus part manufacturers or retailers who have an obligation to ensure their products are safe for their intended use, and not defective in their design, performance, or lack of adequate warnings.
- Other drivers who fail to operate their own vehicles in a safe and responsible manner, and thereby cause an accident with a bus.
- Government entities who are responsible for designing and maintaining roads, crosswalks, and other public ways in safe conditions.
The Type of Claim Can You File
As we mentioned earlier, determining who operated the bus, as well as who was at fault, is important to understanding what type of claim you can file. Because the majority of buses in Boulder are operated by public agencies like the RTD or BVSD, you may be looking at a government claim. In the state of Colorado, accidents involving government vehicles only allow you up to 180 days from the date of the accident to file a claim, as opposed to an accident with a commercial vehicle or passenger driver, which allows up to three years. If you were involved in a Boulder public bus accident, you should not hesitate to contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC as soon as possible to review your case and begin the filing process.
However, even if your accident involved a private company, you should also avoid delaying and contact a Boulder auto accident attorney immediately after your accident. We will need time to collect evidence, determine who is liable, review your medical records and injuries, and negotiate on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company. In addition, we will also need to calculate the costs of your accident and determine the amount of money you can recover in a personal injury claim.
Bus Accident Damages
Damages for injuries sustained in an accident that was someone else’s fault can be divided into two basic categories: compensatory damages and exemplary (or “punitive”) damages. Compensatory damages aim to compensate the victim for expenses directly related to the injury. They may include:
- Medical costs including ambulance fees, hospital stays, x-rays, doctor visits, travel expenses, surgery, and prescription medication
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages and benefits if the victim had to take time off of work to recover
- Lost earning capacity if the victim cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, such as loss of consortium
Exemplary damages, on the other hand, aim to punish the party responsible for causing the accident and injury. These damages are less common and will typically only be awarded under Colorado law when that party acted with malice or in a “willful and wanton” manner.
The Importance of Having Experienced Legal Counsel
Colorado is a “modified comparative negligence” state. This means that once the court (or a jury) determines that a defendant, or defendants, are legally responsible for causing the plaintiff’s injuries, the court must then assign a percentage of fault to each party in the lawsuit. If the court finds the plaintiff partially to blame for his or her own injury, then the court reduces the damage award by that percentage. But, if the plaintiff’s percentage of fault rises above 50 percent, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages at all.
Because of this rule, defendants and their insurers have a strong incentive to pin as much of the blame for an accident on the victim as possible. They may argue that another driver caused the accident or that a bus passenger was acting negligently. Sometimes insurance adjusters get victims to make statements or admissions of fault while the victims are still recovering from their injuries, knowing it’s a vulnerable time and that the victims’ guards will be down. This is why it can be critically important for victims to retain an attorney who is experienced in guiding clients through the minefield of potential mistakes that could result in them losing their right to damages.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Boulder
The Tenge Law Firm, LLC represents the victims of other peoples’ negligence and reckless conduct, and our track record of success speaks for itself. Our initial consultation is always free for potential clients, and in most cases, we represent clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless our clients get paid.
If you or your child have sustained an injury in a bus accident in the Boulder area, you may be entitled to compensation. Hiring a skilled, compassionate personal injury lawyer can make all of the difference in ensuring that your rights are protected and you are able to recover every dollar of compensation you deserve. Don’t wait. Contact the experienced legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC in Boulder either online or by phone at (303) 665-2929 to schedule a free consultation today.