If you’re hurt in a bus crash or car accident, you might think the claims process is identical. After all, they’re both vehicle accidents. And while this is partly true, there are various nuances that only apply to each type of claim. Below, our attorneys compare bus vs. car accidents so you can understand how the process may work for you.

Bus Accidents

A bus accident is any collision or crash involving a bus or coach. There are many types of bus crashes, but common accidents include: 

  • Bus fires 
  • Bus rollovers 
  • Head-on collision 
  • Rear collision 
  • Sideswipe accidents

A bus crash can involve just one vehicle. Or, it can include multiple vehicles and other road users such as pedestrians.

Bus Accident Injuries

Given the size and weight of a California bus, it’s unsurprising that they can cause severe injuries. They also lack safety equipment, such as airbags, which we find in cars. Without such safety equipment, passengers are more prone to injury.

Closeup of a smashed windscreen after a bus crash

Typical mechanisms of injury include: 

  • Being thrown against the wall, windows, or roof 
  • Colliding with other passengers 
  • Being crushed or run over  
  • Getting trapped or pinned in place

Common injuries sustained in bus crashes include: 

  • Back injuries 
  • Broken bones 
  • Cuts, bruising, and lacerations 
  • Dislocations 
  • Head injuries  
  • Muscle and soft tissue damage 
  • Neck injuries (whiplash) 
  • Spinal cord damage e.g. herniated disc

Bus wrecks can also cause life-changing injuries such as amputations and paralysis. The most serious crashes can result in multiple fatalities.

Causes of Bus Crashes

There are numerous reasons why bus crashes occur. Although every accident is unique, causes include: 

  • Distracted driving  
  • Driver error 
  • Driver fatigue 
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Insufficient driver training 
  • Speeding 

Sometimes, improper bus maintenance, or a failure to perform repairs, cause bus crashes. Identifying what caused a bus wreck is complex. Our bus accident lawyers can help determine who – or what – caused your injuries.

Who Is Liable for a Bus Crash?

Liability rests with who is at fault for the crash. This is similar to the rules of negligence in other personal injury claims. You need to show that: 

  • Someone owed you a duty of care. This is a duty to consider the safety and welfare of others. Drivers, for example, owe each other a duty of care.  
  • The person(s) breached this duty of care. In other words, they behaved negligently or carelessly.  
  • You were injured in a crash.  
  • Your injuries are linked to the negligent party’s actions. Meaning, “but for” the person’s actions, you wouldn’t be injured.

In California bus crash claims, it’s not always easy to determine fault. The defendant(s) could be any combination of the following: 

  • Another driver 
  • Bus company 
  • Bus driver  
  • Government entity or school board 
  • Mechanic 
  • Parts manufacturer  
  • Tour bus operator

For example, if the bus driver sped through a stop sign and crashed into another car, they’re at fault.

But if the driver did nothing wrong, and the brakes failed due to faulty repairs, the mechanic could be liable. And if the bus company knew the bus was faulty, but let the driver operate it, they could be liable.

Given the sheer number of parties who may be liable, you should seek legal advice from bus accident lawyers. Contact the May Firm for a free case evaluation.

Compensation for Bus Crashes

You’re entitled to compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical expenses, rehab, legal fees, and lost income. Non-economic losses include your pain and suffering and emotional harm.

Non-economic losses can be significant in bus crash claims, as these wrecks are often traumatic.

Car Accidents

Car accidents occur when a car collides with property, another vehicle, or a person. Car accidents include minor fender benders all the way to multi-car pileups. Common types of crashes include: 

  • Rear-end collisions 
  • Parking lot fender benders 
  • Intersection crashes 
  • Side-on or head-on collisions

Car crashes may cause serious injuries, particularly if the accident occurs at speed.

Types of Car Accident Injuries

Cars have safety mechanisms to help prevent injury. These mechanisms include seatbelts and airbags. However, injuries can still be life-changing or fatal. Common injuries include whiplash, soft tissue damage, broken bones, and muscle sprains.

Rear collision between gray and black cars.

If a car hits a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcycle, the injuries can be more serious.

Liability in Car Accident Claims

There’s a similar process for proving liability in California car accident claims. The goal is to show that someone else caused your injuries. Proving liability determines the level of compensation you’re entitled to, as we’ll see below.

Compensation for Car Accidents in California

California operates a “comparative negligence” rule. Meaning, you can claim damages even if you’re mostly – or entirely – at fault for the crash. However, your compensation will be reduced based on your share of the blame.

As with bus crashes, you can claim damages for losses including medical bills, lost income, and funeral expenses. You may also receive compensation for pain and suffering.

Bus Wrecks vs. Car Accident Claims: What Are the Differences?

As we can see, there are subtle differences between car and bus accident cases. Let’s provide a summary of these key differences so you know what to expect if you’re making a claim.

Potential for Catastrophic Injury

Every accident has the potential to cause catastrophic or life-changing injuries. However, bus accidents are more likely to result in serious or fatal harm.

  • Consider the size and force of buses. The impact of a bus hitting another vehicle is far greater than a car. 
  • If a bus hits a vulnerable road user, such as a cyclist, there’s a grave risk of death or catastrophic injury.  
  • Buses carry more passengers than cars. An accident could affect more people and cause widespread damage.  
  • Children are vulnerable to serious injury. They are especially at risk if there’s a school bus crash.

Damages and Settlement Offers

Bus crashes often involve multiple victims. Additionally, the injuries can be more serious. And in some cases, courts may award punitive damages against defendants such as bus companies or manufacturers.

Punitive damages aim to “punish” the defendant and deter other similar companies from behaving similarly. The value of such damages can be substantial.

Although car accident damages can also be significant, they’re often less than for serious bus crashes. They’re also less likely to go to trial because the claims are inherently simpler.

Determining Liability in Bus Wrecks

It’s usually (but not always) easier to prove liability in car accidents. This is because fault typically rests with at least one driver. However, in bus crashes, multiple parties could be responsible. This means you need to sue various defendants to get the compensation you’re entitled to.

Statute of Limitations

In California, you only have two years from the accident date to bring a personal injury claim. This includes claims against bus and car drivers.

If you’re claiming against a government entity, though, the timeframe is only six months. And other time limits may apply depending on the age of the victim(s) and whether there’s a fatality.

Don’t miss out on your right to claim. Contact the May Firm for urgent legal advice.

What to Do After a Bus or Car Accident in CA

After any road accident, you need to protect your legal rights. Take control of the situation by following these steps. 

  • Call 911 for assistance. Even if there are no serious injuries, police should attend any crash causing injury or property damage over $1,000. You can use the police report to help prove what happened. 
  • You are legally obliged to share certain details with other driver(s) involved in the accident. Exchange information including your name, license number, and current address.  
  • Exchange insurance information, such as your policy number. Again, this is a legal requirement. If the other driver can’t provide this information, let law enforcement handle the matter.  
  • Don’t say anything that implies fault! Stick to the facts only. Don’t apologize or argue about who caused the crash. Anything you say could affect your claim later.  
  • Take pictures or videos of the crash scene. Document property damage, your injuries, and relevant hazards e.g. potholes.  
  • Get medical attention. It doesn’t matter if you feel okay – some injuries are subtle. They take time to manifest. Always err on the side of caution.   
  • Once you leave the scene, contact a bus accident attorney. They can help you file any relevant insurance claim, and start the settlement process.

Experienced Car and Bus Accident Attorneys in California

Any road accident can be devastating. However, bus rollovers and crashes are especially worrying. The potential for serious injury – or even fatalities – is grave.

If you’re a bus wreck or car accident victim, contact the May Firm. Our attorneys understand the nuances involved in these complex cases. We know how to determine fault, how to prove liability, and how to value what a case is worth. And we will fight to get you the damages you deserve.

Don’t undertake the battle of a road accident claim alone. Let us stand with you. If we don’t win your case, you don’t owe us anything. There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Call now to schedule a free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for general informational purposes only and may not represent the current law in the recipient’s jurisdiction. The article should not be interpreted as professional legal advice from The May Firm or the individual author, nor is the information intended to substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. The article, nor any of the information included, should not be used to act or refrain from acting without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.