Every day, many New Jersey residents – alongside millions of other Americans – rely on buses for their daily commute, running errands, or other activities. For a substantial number of these riders, the bus represents their primary or sole means of automotive transportation. Likewise, many of New Jersey’s students travel to and from school using municipal school buses.
Unfortunately, given the number of buses on the road and the inherent dangers of automotive travel, some of those accidents are going to involve buses. Reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that approximately 500 people are killed in bus accidents nationwide every year, with hundreds more suffering injuries every day. As most buses are not equipped with seat belts for passengers, the potential exists for injuries to become serious in the event of a crash.
School buses, with their precious cargo of school-age children, are designed to be as safe as possible within the constraints of the overall bus design (a design scheme which still results in school buses being top-heavy and prone to tipping over). Injury Facts, an online resource curated by the National Safety Council (NSC), states that in the ten-year span between 2011 and 2020, only about 5 percent of deaths resulting from accidents involving a school bus were among the school bus passengers. 70 percent of the deaths in these accidents were among the occupants of other vehicles, 16 percent were pedestrians, with another 3 percent being cyclists. The remaining 5 percent of fatalities were bus drivers. Injury statistics in crashes involving school buses tell a slightly different story, with 33 percent of injuries taking place among school bus passengers, and another 8 percent among bus drivers.
In the first few months of 2022, New Jersey has already suffered a number of bus accidents. On February 21, a New Jersey Transit bus and another vehicle collided in Newark, at the intersection between West Bigelow Street and Hunterdon Street. Twelve people were sent to University Hospital with injuries, although thankfully none of these injuries were reported to be critical. A couple of weeks later on March 4, a school bus en route to Round Valley Elementary School in Clinton Township veered off the road and struck first a boulder, then a building, before flipping onto its side. Several people were treated for injuries at the scene by paramedics and firefighters, and the bus driver was brought to the hospital.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, passengers and pedestrians involved in bus accidents bear no fault for the accident, and if they have sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, they have every right to seek compensation from the party or parties responsible for the harm they have suffered. Common injuries resulting from bus accidents include head injuries (including concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI), skull fracture, and facial injuries), broken bones, and torn ligaments and tendons, as well as burns, lacerations, and contusions. Seeking appropriate compensation for these injuries may not be limited to getting medical bills paid. Depending on the nature and extent of an accident victim’s injuries, compensation can include medical costs for both past and anticipated future treatment, including therapy expenses; lost wages and loss of future earning capacity; compensation for pain and suffering or disfigurement (especially in cases where the accident victim suffered certain types of injury, such as facial injuries or burns); modifications to the victim’s home or vehicle to accommodate short- or long-term disability; and even wrongful death claims.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, one of the reasons it’s important to have experienced and trustworthy legal representation in your injury claim is to ensure that everyone who may reasonably be held liable for your accident is included in your lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances that helped to cause your accident, a number of parties may bear some liability, including:
- The driver of the bus: If the bus driver broke any traffic laws or otherwise operated the vehicle in an unsafe manner, they may be at fault, wholly or in part.
- Other motorists: If another driver caused or contributed to the accident by driving unsafely or breaking the law, they may bear liability.
- The bus company: If the bus was improperly maintained in a way that helped cause the accident, or if the bus company negligently hired someone unqualified as a driver, they may have some liability for your damages.
- The vehicle maintenance company: Likewise, if a failure of proper maintenance contributed to causing the accident, the parties responsible for maintaining the bus may be held liable.
- The bus manufacturer: In the event of a manufacturing defect that contributed to the accident, the company that made the bus would be liable.
- State or municipal agencies: If the bus company is subcontracted by a government agency, that government body may be liable for similar reasons as the bus company.
Normally in the State of New Jersey, you have two years to file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations runs out. However, if your suit includes a government agency, you have much less time – you must submit your notice of intent to file suit with the appropriate agency within 90 days of the bus accident, or you may lose your right to seek damages. This is one of many reasons why contacting an experienced bus injury lawyer soon after your accident is so important.
Contact MyNJInjuryLawyer Howard P. Lesnik
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an accident in NJ, you should contact an attorney familiar with handling these claims. An experienced NJ Injury Lawyer will know how to obtain medical records, videos, photographs, experts, locate witnesses and contact the insurance company so you can make a claim for your injuries.
My NJ Injury Lawyer Howard P. Lesnik, Esq. offers complimentary strategy sessions to address any issue or questions you may have for your injury claim in NJ.
Please contact NJ Injury Lawyer Howard Lesnik, Esq., immediately if you were involved in an accident. I personally handle NJ personal injury cases on a regular basis. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.