Virginia bus accident attorneys
What can I do if I was injured in a bus crash?
Most Virginians ride on buses at one time or another. For some, including children, the bus is a daily way of getting to school or work. For others, multi-passenger vehicles are used less often, such as when taking a shuttle to an airport, going on a chartered tour, or traveling to another city or state.
But while buses are convenient transportation for groups and people who can’t or don’t want to drive, they are also very large and cumbersome vehicles to maneuver through traffic and up and down hills and curves.
To operate a motor vehicle that carries 16 or more occupants, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL). School bus drivers must pass a school bus test, pass a commercial driver test, and get a school bus endorsement on their license, even if their bus carries fewer than 16 passengers.
Unfortunately, serious bus accidents still occur on our Old Dominion’s roadways, despite the regulations and requirements for drivers.
If you or a family member has been injured in a bus accident while a passenger, you are obviously not responsible for any injuries you’ve suffered - because you weren’t the driver. Still, you may be stuck with medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and more.
GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys is a law firm that puts safety first: if we can help avoid accidents through community outreach, we’ll do it. But once an accident has happened, there’s no better friend to our injured neighbors in Gloucester County and Eastern Virginia.
We will help you recover your losses from the person or company responsible for your injuries, so that you can concentrate on healing - instead of worrying about finances. For more information about filing a bus accident injury claim, call (804) 413-6777 for a free consultation with a Virginia auto accident lawyer. If we take your case, you pay no fees. The only way we get paid is if we win compensation for you.
Who’s liable in a bus accident?
Any party that can be proved negligent or reckless can be held liable for injuries and losses resulting from a bus accident. Potential defendants include:
- the owner of a commercial bus company
- the bus driver
- the manufacturer of a bus
- the manufacturer of a part of the bus that is defective (such as the tire manufacturer)
- the party responsible for maintaining the road or street where the accident occurred
- the municipality or school district that owns and operates the bus and hires the drivers, mechanics, security, etc.
Filing a claim against a commercial bus company
Personal injury or wrongful death claims against a commercial bus company are fairly straightforward. If the company and its vehicles and drivers were responsible for the accident or failed to prevent the accident, then their insurance company can be required to pay for any resulting damages.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that commercial bus lines carry a minimum of $1.5 million in liability coverage for vehicles seating 15 or fewer passengers, and a minimum of $5 million in liability coverage for vehicles with a larger seating capacity.
Claims against buses operated by a local municipality or other government entity are quite different and more complex than claims against a commercial bus. Multi-passenger vehicles like school buses and public transportation buses are protected by the legal doctrine, "sovereign immunity."
Sovereign immunity is the concept that government entities and their employees are immune to lawsuits, even if their negligence caused the accident. These entities include federal, state, county, and city governments. School districts, their buses, and their employees have the same protections.
Filing a claim against public transportation or a school district
Doesn’t seem fair, does it? The fact that a government or school district is above the law seems to go against the sense of fairness we trust America’s legal system to maintain. However, a successful claim against a school district or other government entity is possible with an experienced legal team handling your claim.
Virginia recognizes three degrees of negligence:
- Simple or ordinary: an unintentional action or failure to act that causes harm. Such an act or failure to act can be the result of forgetfulness, inexperience, or a common mistake.
- Gross: a conscious or voluntary action or failure to act that, while not intended to cause injury, did cause injury.
- Willful, wanton, and reckless: an intentional action or failure to act that the negligent party was fully aware could cause injury but did anyway. Willful, wanton, and reckless negligence could also involve a party intentionally causing injury to another party. Willful, wanton, and reckless negligence can result in criminal charges as well as civil claims.
In the case of a school bus accident caused by a worn-out tire, simple negligence could be that the school district didn’t regularly inspect the tires and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation that those tires should be replaced every 25,000 miles. Gross negligence would be the school district’s conscious decision not to replace the tires every 25,000 miles in order to save money. In that case, the school district didn’t intend to cause injury, but consciously engaged in a practice that led to injury.
In a school bus or public transportation accident, identifying the type of negligence is very important. In general, sovereign immunity protects a school district or government entity from claims arising from "simple negligence." However, gross negligence or willful, wanton, and reckless negligence are not as easily protected by sovereign immunity.
As skilled bus accident attorneys, we will work to establish that the negligence leading to your injury was NOT simple negligence. Our goal is to help you recover.
Who to talk to (and who not to talk to) after a bus accident
If you have suffered from a bus accident of any kind, you must speak to the right people, and NOT to the wrong people.
- You SHOULD speak with your doctor and any other medical professional attending to your injuries. Make sure they are aware of all pain and discomfort even if the injury isn’t outwardly visible. (Internal injuries may not be immediately recognized.) Follow the doctor’s treatment plan, and stay in contact with the doctor’s office.
- You SHOULD speak with your attorney and stay in contact as they investigate and prepare your claim.
- You SHOULD NOT speak with a representative of the bus company, an attorney representing the bus company or driver, or the insurance company representing the bus company or bus driver.
The experienced legal team at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys is not afraid to take on big companies or the government when it comes to getting you the compensation you deserve. After all, we have worked for large insurance companies, and for the state and federal government, so we know their tactics well.
It is important that you contact us as soon as possible after a bus accident, because the statute of limitations for noncommercial bus accidents is generally shorter than that for commercial bus accidents (which itself is only two years). Call (804) 413-6777 today to for a free case evaluation.
- Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts - FMCSA
- School Buses - NHTSA
- School Bus Safety - Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle
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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.
- Safety Education
John speaks at Gloucester’s Senior Safety Fair, reviewing key legal documents.
- Annual Coat Drive
During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
- Hands-on Service
John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
- Supporting Local Schools
The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.