Knowing what to do after any accident is a challenge. It’s essential to start by getting medical care as soon as possible. But, once you’ve received the emergency treatment you need, what do you do next? How do you recover?
The answer will depend on the severity of your injuries, which depend in part on the vehicles involved in your accident. Charter bus accidents are not as common as accidents with passenger cars or trucks, but when they do happen, they can be devastating for everyone involved.
If you’ve been in a charter bus accident, you need help getting back on your feet and recovering following the crash. This article goes over charter bus accidents and what to do after them.
What Exactly Is a Charter Bus?
Charter buses are somewhat different than what many people think of when they hear the word bus. Charter buses are hired specifically by a group of passengers to take them to a destination. These buses are private, used only by the group that has paid for them.
That said, charter buses themselves can vary greatly, especially in terms of size and potential for impact in the event of an accident.
There are four main types of charter buses/vans:
- Coach buses. These are designed for 30-55 riders and usually come with luggage space, extra legroom, and bathrooms.
- Mini coach buses. These buses are designed to hold a maximum of 28 riders. They are similar to coach buses with overhead luggage space.
- Minibusses. Minibusses are designed to carry a maximum of 21 riders and are usually more cost-effective than other bus types.
- Sprinter vans. These vans are designed for 8-15 riders and are more environmentally friendly than large buses. They are also designed so that people in your party can drive them rather than hiring a bus driver.
While these buses vary in size themselves, they all are large vehicles, which means taking sharp turns or driving fast in them is more dangerous than it would be for other, smaller vehicles. Crashes may be more common if the traffic or road conditions are bad.
How Do Charter Bus Accidents Happen?
Charter bus accidents may be less common than other types of accidents, but still occur in the hundreds and sometimes thousands every year in the United States. One study found that, over five years, an average of about 1,000 motorcoach accidents took place. Though the fatality rate in bus accidents was low, the study grouped large buses with commercial vehicles in terms of the likelihood of fatality per registered vehicle.
Bus accidents may occur due to:
- Distracted driving, including texting, eating, changing music, or talking to passengers
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Vehicle malfunction such as failed brakes, popped tires, or dead brake lights
- Being thrown off-balance trying to avoid an object or person in the road
Accidents with charter buses and similar large vehicles commonly result in rollovers. The length and height of a charter bus or van make it more susceptible to tipping and rolling in any kind of crash, especially when traveling at very high speeds. Most charter buses and vans should not exceed traveling at 60 miles per hour.
Who Is Responsible for Charter Bus Accidents?
The responsible party in a charter bus accident depends on the facts of the case. If the accident was caused by the negligence of the bus driver, the driver and the charter company may be responsible for compensating victims. If the accident was caused by faulty systems or equipment in the bus, the manufacturer or charter bus company may be at fault instead.
Charter bus companies are required to hire drivers who are trained and licensed to take these large vehicles out on the road with multiple passengers. If you find after the accident that the driver was unqualified, the bus company may be held responsible.
Charter bus companies are required to carry insurance.
The insurance generally covers:
- Property damage
- Contractual liability
- Personal and advertising liability
- Medical expenses
- Completed operations/products liability
- Broad form general liability
In total, most charter bus companies should have at least $5 million per occurrence to cover any damages to passengers, employees, and other drivers or passengers harmed in a charter bus accident.
What Should You Do After a Charter Bus Accident?
Directly after a charter bus accident, if you can, you should:
- Get to safety off the main roadway.
- Call an ambulance to get medical attention and make sure everyone is okay.
- Call the police to get an official report filed (these reports can help pursue bus accident claims if fault isn’t clear).
- Exchange information with other drivers or witnesses.
- Get medical treatment.
- Contact a bus accident attorney to discuss your options to recover compensation for any injuries or impacts you may have experienced.
What Can You Recover After a Charter Bus Accident?
What victims of charter bus accidents may recover after an accident depends on the applicable state law. Determining the state law that applies can be tricky in some charter bus accident cases, because the accident may have occurred in a different state than the charter bus company is incorporated or has its headquarters. This is one reason why you must consult an attorney after a charter bus accident, as they can determine the proper jurisdiction in which you should file and what damages you can recover.
Generally speaking, though, damages could include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Ongoing medical treatment expenses
- Loss of wages from recovery time off work
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium (the loss of a relationship resulting from the accident and its consequences)
If you suffered an injury in a charter bus accident due to another’s wrong-doing, you may recover compensation. A great way to start this process is to talk to a lawyer. Figuring out who is at fault in an accident can be confusing, and determining the amount of compensation each person deserves takes a lot of work investigating the accident and negotiating with insurance companies.