Staten Island Bus Accident Attorney
While accidents involving buses aren’t as common in Staten Island as accidents that involve other types of motor vehicles, bus accidents do happen, and they can cause terrible personal injuries.
If you or your loved one has been injured in Staten Island in an accident involving a bus, you have legal options. An experienced Staten Island Bus Accident lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you understand those options.
The Dangers of Buses
Buses, like other large, commercial motor vehicles, pose hazards to passengers and occupants of other vehicles. Some of those hazards include:
- Lack of restraints. Many buses are not required to provide seat belts for passengers, leaving them at risk of serious injuries in the event of an accident.
- A narrow body and a high center of gravity. Buses are relatively narrow, given their height. Narrow, tall vehicles are prone to rolling over in certain circumstances, such as when attempting to make a sharp turn or a curve at high speed, or when attempting a crash avoidance maneuver.
- Increased impact. Buses weigh many times more than other vehicles. Because of this size discrepancy, the impact and severity of a bus crash are often much worse for occupants of other vehicles.
- Increased distance needed to stop. Due to the weight of a bus, it requires a longer distance to come to a safe stop in response to a hazard in the roadway.
- Overcrowding. Overcrowded buses are a common occurrence both in school systems as well as with city transport, resulting in more people being crowded into seats or even aisles.
- Significant blind spots. While all vehicles have blind spots, which are areas to the rear and side of the vehicle that a driver can’t see by merely looking in his or her rearview mirror, the blind spots that exist for buses—like other large vehicles—are significant and appear on all four sides. Blind spots are risky, as a vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist may be traveling in one and be at risk of being struck by a bus as it attempts to make a lane change or turn.
- Wide turns. Making a turn in a bus may require the driver to swing out into another travel lane. This poses a risk to the occupants of vehicles in the travel lane that the bus is swinging into.
In fact, in one month alone, 13 accidents involved buses in Staten Island, as reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Whether it’s a school bus, an MTA bus, or an intercity carrier—such as Greyhound, bus accidents are very serious, both due to the size of buses in comparison to other motor vehicles on the road, as well as the number of passengers, often unrestrained, who may be riding on the bus at the time of the crash.
About Specific Bus Types
As previously mentioned, there are several different types of buses, all of which are involved in accidents. Here is a look at each of these bus types, along with information about the types of accidents that they’re most commonly involved in.
City Transportation Buses
Public bus transportation in Staten Island is handled by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which is the largest transportation network in North America. MTA serves a population of about 15.3 million people across a 5,000 square-mile area that includes New York City, Long Island, Southeastern New York State, and Connecticut. MTA buses were in more than 21,000 accidents in a three-year period of time—averaging about 23 accidents per day. In those accidents, at least 2,520 people suffered injuries and at least 14 died.
Some of those accidents include:
- A Thursday night accident involving a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus left 13 people with minor injuries and another individual with serious injuries. The accident occurred on the West Shore Expressway, near the Victory Boulevard exit, and involved multiple vehicles. A spokesperson for MTA reported that the bus was traveling through traffic when a box truck rear-ended the bus. Both the bus and the truck sustained serious damage in the accident, which resulted in the blockage of two lanes of the roadway.
- A bus driver dragged a 58-year-old woman six blocks after striking her near the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, only stopping and realizing what he had done when a pedestrian waved him down.
- An MTA bus rear-ended a school bus, causing injuries to a nine-year-old boy and a 54-year-old woman. In three years, MTA buses were involved in 180 accidents that also involved school buses.
- Seven passengers in Staten Island were injured when the MTA bus they were riding on slammed into several parked vehicles.
- On one bus driver’s third day of work, she forgot to set her parking brake, causing the bus to roll backward, striking a pedestrian, parked cars, and a church.
- A 70-year-old woman was struck and killed by a bus as she crossed the street with a walker. The bus driver later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.
According to a 2018 report from the New York State Education Department, there have been 113 school bus student fatalities across the state since 1960. A school bus student fatality is defined as a student killed while riding in, entering, or exiting a school bus. This figure does not include staff members, pedestrians who were not leaving or entering the bus, or occupants of other vehicles.
We’ve helped to secure money for bus accident victims, including a $475,000 settlement after a bus driver hit a child.
Some of the facts about these school bus student fatalities are as follows:
- While children ages four to eight only make up about 35 percent of the state’s student population, they’re involved in 69 percent of the school bus student fatalities (78 out of 113). Some of the reasons for this, the department notes, include being harder for the bus driver and other motorists to see due to the young children’s small stature; the fact that the students themselves can’t see parked vehicles and other obstacles if the roadway is clear to cross; the fact that children at this age do not have hearing that is completely developed and, therefore, can’t determine from what direction sounds are coming from; the fact that young children’s vision is likewise not completely developed, so they cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles; the fact that these children have a short attention span and must be reminded of safety procedures; and, finally, the fact that children are generally inexperienced with roadway hazards.
- More than 81 percent of school bus student fatalities occurred outside of the bus. The reasons for fatalities that occur when the student is struck by his or her own bus include the student crossing the roadway close to the bus and where the driver cannot see him or her; the child dropped something under the bus and attempted to retrieve it; or the child’s drawstring or backpack straps got caught on the handrail or another part of the bus and the child was dragged. Children being struck by their own buses accounts for more than half of all school bus student fatalities.
- Accidents involving children being struck by other motorists most commonly occur when the motorist illegally passes a school bus that has its stop sign and red lights engaged.
- The most common reasons for school bus student fatalities that occur within the bus include a school bus collision that involves a large vehicle, such as a train or a semi-truck; a bus being driven off the road and striking a fixed object; the student putting his or her head out the window as the bus passes a utility pole, sign, or another vehicle; or the student jumping from a moving bus.
- Fatalities caused by the bus driver are most often the result of driver inattention, failure to effectively manage student behavior, or improper use of defensive driving techniques.
The department noted that while most fatalities occur outside of the bus, most non-fatal injuries occur inside of the bus. Two-thirds of the injuries to New York students on school buses are considered minor, and such injuries most often occur because the student is not in his or her seat and properly positioned to benefit from the bus’ design. The most common types of two-vehicle accidents involving school buses are frontal collisions and rear-end collisions. The students most likely to sustain injuries in these accidents are those in the front few rows and the back few rows.
The 2016/2017 school year saw 767 reported accidents statewide involving school buses, according to the department. While this was not a record, it was over the average since the 2000/2001 school year of 715.
Intercity buses, such as those provided by Greyhound, provide transportation to people traveling from city to city, or even across the country, for far less than the cost of an airplane or a train ticket. However, according to a 2016 CNN news investigation, Greyhound does not follow its own safety rules to protect drivers and their passengers from bus driver fatigue. In 2013, a Greyhound bus slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer on I-80 in Pennsylvania. One person died in the accident, and dozens more were hurt. The passengers stated that they believed their bus driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel.
According to Greyhound internal documents obtained by the news organization, company policy stated that drivers were to stop every 150 miles, get out, stretch, walk around the bus, inspect the tires, and allows them to combat fatigue that inevitably comes from sitting in one position and staring at the roadway for a long period of time.
However, many of the Greyhound routes don’t have designated stops, meaning that it is the bus driver’s responsibility to make the stop. Lawyers for the passengers injured in the accident in Pennsylvania stated that the rule is not enforced because doing so would cost the company money in fewer routes and longer times reaching destinations.
As many as 18 million passengers ride on Greyhound buses each year. A study conducted by the federal government revealed that 37 percent of passenger bus crashes were the result of driver fatigue. One of the personal injury lawsuits resulting from a 2013 accident, which involved a passenger who lost his leg due to the crash, resulted in the jury concluding that the carrier had demonstrated reckless indifference to the safety of passengers and that its rules and training were contradictory on the subject of driver fatigue. The jury awarded the passenger $23 million, with another $4 million in punitive damages, and an additional $150 to remind the company of its 150-mile rule.
Liability in Bus Accidents
Determining liability in bus accidents is often a complex process, as there can be multiple at-fault parties in one accident claim. In addition to a bus driver who caused an accident, other individuals and entities may also face liability, including:
- Drivers of other vehicles.
- Carriers, such as Greyhound, who may have failed to provide adequate training to their drivers, to conduct sufficient background checks on drivers that may have revealed a history of recklessness, or to enforce their own policies or regulations put forth by the federal, state, or local governments.
- Governmental entities, including public school districts or government-owned transportation authorities.
- The entity tasked with performing maintenance and repair on the bus, if it is discovered that the accident occurred due to a poorly-maintained vehicle.
- The manufacturer or distributor of the bus or bus parts if a product defect resulted in a crash.
Determining the liable parties involves establishing negligence. Negligence is established by demonstrating that the at-fault party owed the other involved-parties a duty of care, there was a breach in that duty of care, and this breach resulted in the accident that caused injuries to the plaintiff. An experienced bus accident attorney will often focus on the details and evidence of your case to determine all potential sources of liability and insurance resources that may offer compensation for your injuries.
Call Our Staten Island Bus Accident Lawyers
If you were injured in a bus accident in Staten Island, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, online, at (877) 488-1707, or through a chat with one of our representatives for a free case evaluation. We have helped many people just like you recover the compensation they needed to move forward in their lives, and we look forward to seeing whether we can do the same for you.
“After my accident I contacted a law firm and explained the situation. They told me about cases they’ve had in the past and the most compensation they got for clients. They made me aware that they were not interested at the time but, I could contact them in the future if anything changed. After my surgery 2 years later my wife suggested I contact an attorney. Since it happened in a different state I contacted an attorney in that state and was told the statute of limitations was up. My wife told me not to give up, that’s when I contacted Jacoby & Meyers. They were able to figure out how to proceed with the case and settled it for 15 times the amount that the original law firm had said might be possible. I highly recommend Jacoby & Meyers, they were professional and kept me informed throughout the entire process.” -Charles D.
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Jacoby & Meyers, LLP
26 Watchogue Rd Suite 1
Staten Island, NY 10314