Since the 66,000 bus accidents that took place in the United States in 2013, there have been consistent increases in the reported accident numbers annually. Nationwide, hundreds of these crashes are fatal each year, and Texas has one of the highest national rates for bus accident fatalities per 100 million total vehicle miles traveled (VMT). It may be sadly unsurprising that some of the most tragic and deadly bus accidents in history have taken place in Texas.
Bus accidents are especially deadly for other motorists. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities make up about 1/3 of bus wreck fatalities each year, the remaining 2/3 being passengers in motor vehicles. The insurance coverage carried by the operators of these large vehicles may be helpful in recuperative costs. But, if you are a victim of a serious bus accident that results in catastrophic injury or loss of life, no amount of payout will ever truly make up for what you have suffered. Insurers like Farmers, Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, Nationwide, Geico, etc. are well-practiced in protecting their interests in the aftermath of a serious accident.
In addition to concerns about fighting huge corporations for your just compensation, many bus accidents involve city liability. Examples might include the case of city bus involvement or city infrastructure as a contributing factor to the crash. Often, cities narrow the more standard personal injury statute of limitations’ 2-year term all the way down to a 90 or 60-day window in which you are permitted to bring a lawsuit.
In light of the serious injuries and losses, complications of insurance company restrictions, and city or state-imposed limitations that arise in the wake of bus accidents, it is extremely beneficial to seek the assistance of an accomplished bus accident attorney. Our legal experts have vast experience with all types of motor vehicle collisions and know how to handle the big insurance companies like Farmers. We are always ready to fight for our clients’ rightful compensation because we understand the suffering that comes from a dangerous accident. If you have been hurt in a bus crash, please reach out to Thompson Law right away for the help you need.
Bus Insurance Regulations and Requirements
There are two main categorizations that determine the insurance and liability requirements which bus owners must carry. These standards are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and there are additional protections from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
The main FMCSA standards are:
- Does the bus only travel within state limits, or does it cross state lines to travel elsewhere?
- Interstate: The bus provides transportation which sometimes or always crosses state lines.
- Intrastate: The bus only provides transportation in its home state.
2. Including the driver, is the bus designed to carry less than 16 people or more? Minimum levels of financial responsibility are determined by the highest seating capacity of a vehicle within a fleet operated by an interstate for-hire motor carrier of passengers.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers: $5,000,000 insurance required.
- A vehicle designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers: $1,500,000 insurance required.
There are exceptions to these insurance requirements, and they DO NOT apply to:
- A motor vehicle transporting only school children and school personnel to and from school
- A motor vehicle providing taxicab service and having a seating capacity of less than 7 passengers and not operated on a regular route or between specified points
- A motor vehicle carrying less than 16 people in a single daily round trip commute to and from work
- A motor vehicle operated by a motor carrier under contract providing transportation of pre-primary, primary, and secondary students for extracurricular trips organized sponsored, and paid by a school district.
Types of Buses and Who is Responsible for Insuring Them
Insurance regulations and requirements can vary for different types of buses based on their use category. The institutions that insure these fleets are often liable parties in the case of an accident. Your experienced bus accident attorney (link to commercial vehicle when up) will be able to examine the details and circumstances of your accident to evaluate which liable parties to pursue for damages.
School Buses – The relatively minimal requirements of what it takes to become a school bus driver in the state of Texas may surprise you. School districts are responsible for maintaining insurance coverage of buses in the fleet that serves their schools and districts. Additionally, they are required to purchase and maintain vehicles in their fleet that adhere to federal and state safety standards, which are frequently reiterated or improved upon by their general liability insurance policy requirements. Reciprocally, school bus manufacturers must construct the carriage and body of their buses to meet these standards, and have documentation accordingly, before they are able to sell the buses to school systems.
Bus Rapid Transit – Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) include City Buses like Dallas’ DART and other Public Transit Buses aimed at easing congestion in dense metro areas and supporting a larger public transit network. The fleet is owned and insured by the city or state.
Commuter Buses – Serving as public transit for large metropolitan networks, (Dallas’ DART would also qualify as commuter service), these buses may be owned and operated by the city or state they serve, and they are insured by this ownership too.
Inter-City Buses – Greyhound, MegaBus and other Mega Coaches all have their particular niches, but largely share common characteristics. They mainly transport passengers between regional city centers, as well as longer routes, often overnight and in competition with train travel. These buses are insured by the companies that own and operate their fleet.
Causes of Bus Accidents and the Injuries that Can Result
Causes of bus accidents are often the same as causes of other motor vehicle collisions, although the size, weight, and bearing of buses do account for some differences. Due to their height and weight distribution, buses are more susceptible to rollover after certain types of impact or speed changes. Even if the bus driver is driving safely, the cars around them and in their larger blind spots can cause accidents. Some bus accident causes include:
- Poor or Negligent Driving – speeding, failure to maintain lane position
- Dangerous Driving Conditions – bad weather, dawn/dusk/dark driving, icy or slippery roads
- Heavy Traffic – aggressive driving, stop/start dangers
- Construction – poor signage and visibility, driver confusion, complicated traffic patterns
- Distracted Driving – texting, checking maps, eating while driving
Some bus statistics are comforting, including the fact that school students who travel to and from their schools by bus are 70% more likely to arrive safely than those who travel in cars. However, when things do go wrong with buses, resulting injury and loss can be severe. Experienced personal injury litigators see tragic results after serious bus accidents including:
- Flying Object Injuries
- Cuts, Scratches, Bruises
- Head, Neck, Back, Spinal Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Dismemberment or Amputation
- Wrongful Death
What to do After Being Involved in a Bus Accident
After a bus accident, always call the proper authorities. Police should document the scene and take statements of witnesses and those involved in the accident. DO NOT make statements to any other parties, and DO NOT make a statement to the driver.
Because buses often do not have seat belts, they are designed to be heavier and absorb crash shock differently. This means that crash scenes involving buses can be different from other car and truck crashes. The different weight distribution of a bus can still result in injuries to the people aboard, but it can be particularly dangerous to the passengers of any other vehicles involved in the collision. There is a reason we use the phrase “hit by a bus” to describe being in great discomfort or pain.
When the ambulance arrives, get fully checked out and cleared by the emergency medical professionals (EMS) before you leave the scene. Sometimes the adrenaline rush after an accident can disguise injuries, aches, and pains in the moment. Trust the experts to examine you and confirm any known or suspected injuries.
Exercise caution in your routine in the days following the bus crash and absolutely note if you are feeling “off” in any way. Please seek the care that you need without delay. Whether you go straight to the ER from the crash scene or visit the doctor the next day, the important thing is that you consult medical professionals for their assessment of your condition and get treatment recommendations. Delaying treatment not only jeopardizes your health, it also risks the outcome of your personal injury claim.
Finally, do not take any calls from insurance agents after the accident until you have talked to your designated bus accident attorney. If you have any questions about what to do, feel free to contact Thompson Law for a free consultation about your situation.
Formed in 1928, and now serving the nation with over 19 million policies across every US state, Farmers Insurance Exchange is comprised of 47 companies, and ranked number 222 of the Fortune 500 in 2017. Farmers reported $15.6 billion in revenue that year with total combined assets at $20.6 billion.
Within the automobile insurance space, Farmers offers numerous options and plans for commercial vehicle coverage, ranging from small packages related to habitual business errand running, all the way up to complete coverage of a business on wheels – such as bus offices, food trucks, or trailers. Bus insurance packages are offered to provide the levels of protection required by federal and state law, at a minimum, with options for additional coverages as requested by bus owners.
Need to file a claim with Farmers Insurance? After an accident where an at-fault driver has Farmers Insurance, there are a number of ways to contact them to initiate the claims process including reporting a claim here at their website, here at their phone number (link to 1-800-435-7764), here for auto and other claims reporting, or possibly even by visiting one of their new mobile claim centers that operates an emergency assistance office out of a bus.
Insurance companies like Farmers want to make it as easy as possible to file a claim so that individuals are lulled into the belief that they do not need an experienced bus wreck attorney to protect them.
Best Chance at Your Best Claim with Experienced Bus Accident Attorney on Your Side
The best approach to filing your demand with a bus company’s insurance carrier is to engage the advice and counsel of a specialized bus accident attorney. Understanding that the above revenue numbers and breadth of experience with insurers like Farmers can be daunting, remember you do not need to face large insurance corporations alone. Add an expert to your team by hiring a specialized bus accident attorney. With a lawyer like Ryan “The Lion” Thompson representing you, you improve your chances of a smoother claim process and optimized compensatory outcome.
Our experts are standing by to take your call, answer your questions, and help you every step of the way. Even after a frightening bus accident, you do have options and resources. Reach out to Thompson right away to get started, we look forward to helping you very soon.