Columbus Bus Accident Lawyers
Experienced representation when school, public, and private buses cause accidents in Central Ohio
Bus accidents are scary for several reasons. First, buses carry many more passengers than cars and SUVs. A full bus can carry more than 50 people or students, meaning when a Columbus bus accident happens, many people will be hurt. Second, buses are much longer, wider, and heavier than cars. When a bus and a car collide, the people in the car are likely to be seriously hurt or die because of the impact. Third, buses are very difficult to control because of their bulk. Drivers need a special license to drive a bus. Fourth, buses are more prone to rollovers than cars.
At Soroka & Associates, our Columbus bus accident lawyers understand the unique challenges involved in bus accident cases. We work to determine who actually owns the bus, how the accident happened, why it happened, and who is responsible. Our lawyers also work with your doctors and our network of expert witnesses to fully understand your injuries, medical needs, and all the ways your injuries have made your life more difficult. We’ve earned the respect of former clients, insurance carriers, and defense lawyers for our strong record of jury verdicts and negotiated settlements.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 232 fatal bus accidents nationwide in 2019. Bus accidents are dangerous for many reasons. Many buses are not equipped with seat belts or airbags. Even when seatbelts are present, many passengers don’t use them, and many passengers on overcrowded buses stand. Their only protection if an accident happens is holding onto straps or railings.
When bus accidents do happen in Columbus, passengers can be thrown into each other, into the hard seats and sides of the bus, or even out of the bus altogether. Drivers often work long monotonous shifts which means by the end of their shift, they may be tired and unable to fully focus on traffic.
What laws govern buses in Ohio?
The different categories of buses in Columbus include:
- Municipal buses. Columbus has a municipal service called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) that includes over 40 routes with 492 buses. The weekly ridership is nearly 200,000 passengers.
- Private buses. The Columbus bus station is served by several private bus companies, including Greyhound, Barons Bus Line, Miller Transportation, and GoBus.
- School buses. Columbus City Schools transports 44,000 students every day.
There are also many different laws that apply to buses.
All buses must comply with the Ohio traffic rules. Private bus companies like Greyhound are considered common carriers because they carry large numbers of people for a fee. Common carriers owe the highest duty of care to their passengers which means that accident victims can often hold drivers and private companies liable for the accidents they cause.
There are also special traffic rules for school buses:
- Section 4511.75 establishes the rules for stopping for stopped school buses.
- Section 4511.771 requires that buses be equipped with flashing red and amber lights.
- Section 4511.751 requires that school bus operators report traffic violations by other vehicles.
- Section 4511.76 provides administrative rules for school bus construction, design, equipment, operation, and licensing.
- “The department of public safety, by and with the advice of the superintendent of public instruction, shall adopt and enforce rules relating to the construction, design, and equipment, including lighting equipment required by section 4511.771 [above] of the Revised Code, of all school buses both publicly and privately owned and operated in this state.”
- “The department of education, by and with the advice of the director of public safety, shall adopt and enforce rules relating to the operation of all vehicles used for pupil transportation.”
- Section 4511.761 mandates inspections for school buses.
- Section 4511.772 mandates an occupant restraining device for the operator.
What causes bus accidents in Columbus?
At Soroka & Associates, our personal injury lawyers work with investigators, the police, bus experts, and traffic reconstruction experts to help show how and why a Columbus bus accident happened. We also question everyone involved in the accident through a formal process called “discovery.”
Bus accidents often happen for any of the following reasons:
- The bus driver was tired. As mentioned, many bus drivers have long shifts and repetitive routes that can cause fatigue and boredom.
- The bus driver was distracted. Driver distraction includes texting, using a smartphone, looking at a GPS system, eating, drinking, and other causes. Driver distraction can also include unruly passengers.
- Not following the state traffic laws. These laws include regulating speed limits, stopping at intersections, merging, and other laws.
- Failing to use caution when picking up and discharging passengers. Bus drivers should drop off and receive passengers at designated locations only. They should ensure that traffic around them is stopped or clear before letting people and students on and off the bus.
- Driving under the influence. Bus drivers should never operate their vehicle while intoxicated. Even some prescription drugs can affect a driver’s judgment and control of the bus.
- Failure to maintain the bus. Buses should be inspected and examined regularly to ensure the bus is safe to drive. Since so many people are on a bus, the bus should be inspected to ensure fires are handled properly and that passengers can escape through the windows if necessary.
- Defective bus parts. Defective tires, brakes, steering systems, fuel lines, seatbelts, and other bus parts can easily cause a driver to lose control of the bus.
- Failure to vet drivers. Public and private bus companies should vet their drivers to ensure they have the proper training, experience, and a safe driving record. Background checks should be run on school bus drivers to protect the children.
What injuries do bus accident victims suffer?
Our Columbus bus accident lawyers represent victims who suffer any type of serious injury, including:
- Traumatic brain injury or head trauma
- Spinal cord damage
- Multiple, compound, complex, or simple bone fractures
- Severe burn injuries
- Traumatic amputation/limb loss
- Vision or hearing loss
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Back, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Ligament, nerve, tissue, and muscle damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
At Soroka & Associates, we also file wrongful death claims if a beloved child, spouse, or parent died in a bus crash.
How much time do I have to file a bus accident claim in Ohio?
Claims against governmental entities such as municipalities and school districts are generally handled differently than other tort claims. For starters, there are specific notice requirements that govern when and how victims must notify the governmental entity of an accident. Generally, bus accident victims have two years to file their personal injury or wrongful death claim.
However, the notice requirements for government entities is often just several months. Our Columbus attorneys can determine the timeline for your claim in a personal consultation. It’s important to get in touch with us as soon as possible after your accident to ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines.
Soroka & Associates’ Columbus office is located at 503 South Front Street, Suite 205. We’re close to I-71 and Rt. 23. We meet bus accident victims at their homes and hospitals when necessary.
Speak with a respected Columbus bus accident lawyer today
Children and adults who are injured in bus accidents in Columbus have the right to seek compensation for their damages and losses. At Soroka & Associates, we are skilled at showing bus driver, school, and bus company negligence. We review all your economic and personal damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income. Our lawyers answer all your questions and help you understand the litigation process. Call us at 614-358-6525 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers represent bus accident victims on a contingency fee basis.