Spokane Bus and STA Accident Attorney
Accidents that involve commercial buses often result in serious, or even fatal injuries to passengers, motorists and pedestrians. The tragedy of an accident involving a bus is multiplied by the number of people who suffer a serious injury or are killed as a result. Large commercial buses and school buses are unique in that they can be hard to control in some conditions, and a crash will affect the lives of so many.
Determining Negligence in a Bus Accident
Determining fault in a bus accident can be extremely complicated, and there can be multiple contributing parties. A knowledgeable attorney can investigate the accident and identify the liable party or parties.
There are quite a few parties that could potentially be held liable in bus accident cases. Each particular case will have a different fact pattern, but generally, if the bus driver’s negligence caused the accident, the driver and his or her employer can be held liable.
When accidents occur due to poor maintenance or negligent hiring, the bus operator or governmental entity can be held responsible. In Spokane, most buses on the road are operated by the Spokane Transit Authority. If a dangerous roadway condition caused or contributed to the accident, the governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can be held accountable. In Washington, that would likely be the Washington Department of Transportation or WSDOT.
If a vehicle defect or a faulty part causes the bus crash, the bus manufacturer or the maker of the defective part can be held liable, and this type of claim may become a products liability claim.
Establishing liability can be very difficult, regardless of whether the bus is owned by a municipality, government or private company. There are also many variables involved which complicate the question of who is responsible for damages and the resulting injuries of a particular accident. The parties most commonly held liable in bus accidents are the:
- Bus Driver
- Bus Company
- Bus Maintenance Companies
- Drivers of Other Vehicles and/or Their Employers
- Government agencies, Municipalities, and School boards
- Manufacturers of the bus/bus parts
School Bus Accidents
Sadly, each and every year children across this country are exposed to dangerous and sometimes deadly school bus accidents. Injuries suffered in a school bus accident can range from minor whiplash to more serious personal injuries like broken bones or even death.
Steps You Should Take After a Bus Accident
If you’ve been involved in a bus accident it’s important to follow some basic steps in the minutes and days following the incident.
1. Get Immediate Medical Attention
Getting medical attention, even in instances when the injuries seem minor, is important both for your personal injury claim and your overall health. Serious injuries may not be readily apparent immediately following a collision. This is especially true with children that have been involved in a school bus accident. It is very important that your child get medical attention.
2. Document Your Experience
If possible take photos and video of the scene and any vehicles involved. Video on cell phones works excellent at recording this information, including sounds. Try to capture as much of the collision and the surrounding areas as possible, including stop lights, traffic signs, skid marks, and any other helpful evidence.
Write down what you remember leading up to and after the accident. Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, and maybe even e-mail addresses of other passengers, the driver, and any others involved in the accident. If there were witnesses, ask for their phone numbers, email addresses, and names. Their testimonies may help support your claim. Tell the police what happened in detail to ensure your side of the story is on record.
3. Track Expenses
Any damages related to the bus accident should be kept organized and safe. Make sure you collect all receipts, bills, and other records that may help you determine the financial damages you suffered due to the collision. This includes medical bills, lost work hours/wages, transportation costs, etc.
4. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered personal injury due to a bus accident, it’s recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Once you get in touch with your lawyer, you’ll need to provide him with all the information and evidence you’ve gathered. This will aid the attorney in evaluating your claim and help him to begin work on the case more quickly. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the sooner they can begin the process of formally filing a claim. For compassionate and experienced representation call Robert Hahn at (509)921-9500.
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
Transit companies or authorities like the STA, passenger carrier vehicle owners, or their insurance adjusters may approach you and offer you compensation in efforts to avoid legal action. Don’t settle for anything without first seeking legal advice.
Most insurance adjusters will contact an accident victim within 24 hours of the accident. They know victims are most vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of an accident and more likely to provide a statement that may jeopardize the outcome of their claim. It’s best to provide the insurance adjusters with only your basic contact information.
Don’t sign or agree to anything. Do NOT give any statements to an insurance company or investigator retained by another party or insurance carrier. Insurance companies are not on your side and will look for any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim. Before speaking to a representative from an insurance company you should consult with a personal injury attorney.
To learn more about insurance companies read our 8 Things Your Should Know About Insurance Companies post.
We Can Help
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a bus accident, you need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side to help you make the best recovery possible.
Buses are often owned and operated by government entities or large, powerful companies, which can seriously cloud any potential issues of liability. Without the help of an attorney, you may not be prepared to deal with the large-scale defense that the bus companies will begin immediately after the accident.