Can You Seek Damages if You or a Loved One Have Been Injured in a North Carolina Bus Accident?
A bus can be a convenient mode of transportation. People may use the bus to travel around urban areas, get to work, visit family and friends, or send their children to school. While bus accidents are not as common as car crashes, the damage inflicted upon victims can be severe. Whether you’ve been hurt as a passenger on the bus or struck by a bus while walking, biking, or driving, you could be facing significant injuries and long recovery times.
Even though a personal injury lawsuit cannot undo the harm caused by the bus crash, it can help ensure that you and your family do not face a financial crisis due to the losses related to your injuries. An experienced Charlotte bus accident lawyer can explain what compensation may be available to you following your accident and who could be liable for your injuries.
How Do Bus Accidents Happen?
Overall, buses are a relatively safe way to travel. According to a report published by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), there were 1408 bus crashes statewide during 2021, compared to 249,927 passenger vehicle accidents during the same timeframe. This number includes commercial, school, activity, and other buses.
Although bus crashes are less frequent than car and truck collisions, they can still occur, often with disastrous results for victims. Some common causes of bus accidents include:
- Driver negligence, including but not limited to:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving recklessly
- Driving while fatigued
- Improper maintenance
- Faulty or defective bus parts
- Badly designed buses
- Negligence on the part of other motorists
- Poor weather conditions
- Intersections, roundabouts, and other road features which were not designed with bus traffic in mind
What Injuries Can Bus Accident Victims Suffer?
Buses are designed to transport passengers efficiently, but some of the features that make buses convenient can also make them more dangerous in a crash. For example, the height of a bus that allows passengers to walk and stand inside comfortably also makes the vehicle much more likely to tip over or roll in an accident. The lack of seatbelts means that people and objects can easily be thrown around due to an impact. Even relatively minor bus accidents can result in serious injuries, including:
- Soft tissue damage
- Broken bones
- Spine injuries and paralysis
- Head trauma
- Cuts and bruises
- PTSD and other mental health impacts caused by trauma
- Severed limbs
- Crush injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Who May Be Liable for a North Carolina Bus Crash?
Companies and drivers involved in the transportation of passengers are held to a higher standard of care by common carrier laws because people trust that their safety and well-being will be a top priority when they pay to use these services. Unfortunately, the drivers and bus companies sometimes fail to meet these standards, resulting in harm. Injured victims may be able to seek compensation if they can show that the carrier did not exercise the utmost care in their actions.
However, even if the accident occurred due to issues outside the driver’s control, such as faulty brakes or the actions of a negligent car driver, injured victims may still be able to seek compensation from the responsible party. Frequently, bus accident claims will name several defendants who played a role in the crash. Parties who may be found at fault for North Carolina bus accidents include:
- The bus driver
- The government agency or municipality operating the mass transit system
- The bus company
- The bus manufacturer or designer, if manufacturing or design flaws caused or contributed to the crash
- Third-party drivers, if their negligent actions caused the accident
- Bus maintenance providers or mechanics
What Damages Could an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Recover?
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a bus accident, you likely have incurred financial losses due to your injuries. By seeking economic damages through an insurance settlement or civil lawsuit, you can recover compensation for expenses, such as:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity caused by long-term disability
- Medical bills, including surgeries, rehabilitation, counseling, medication, and durable medical supplies
- Personal property replacement costs
- Expenses for accessibility upgrades to your home and vehicles
The injuries from a bus crash can have a broader impact on your life beyond your finances. A skilled lawyer can evaluate your non-economic losses to determine what fair and full compensation looks like in your circumstances. Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Reduction in your quality of life
- Mental anguish
How Could North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Laws Impact Your Claim?
North Carolina is one of a small number of states in the US that still follow a pure contributory negligence system. Under this strict system, victims are barred from seeking compensation for a personal injury if they share any fault in their accident.
Insurers and plaintiffs often exploit this fact to the fullest extent to avoid paying compensation to victims. They will attempt to gather evidence that shows you acted in a way that contributed to your injuries.
What Can Our Law Firm Do for You?
No matter the circumstances, it is essential never to assume that you will be unable to recover damages in your bus accident case. Only a lawyer can look at the facts of your unique situation and advise you on whether you may have a valid claim against one or more negligent parties. You could be eligible to seek both economic and non-economic damages for the losses you’ve suffered due to a North Carolina bus crash. To schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your bus accident claim and recovery options, contact Harman Law today at (704) 286-0947.