Every year, Americans take up to 4.6 billion trips on buses, as well as other forms of public transportation — and still more take private and chartered bus trips, too. From the signature yellow school bus fleets to ever-expanding mass transit systems, more and more citizens are relying on these massive vehicles for business, school, and pleasure with every passing year.
While bus accidents may not be as common as other motor vehicle crashes, however, one recent study found that up to 63,000 buses are involved in a major accident each year, leaving many of the occupants with damaging and painful injuries. Here at Davis Levin Livingston, we understand how to pursue injury claims in the event of a complex and overwhelming bus accident, and fight for the fair recovery you deserve.
Do you need to speak with one of our skilled Hawaii bus accident lawyers? Call (808) 740-0633 today for more information.
Who Is Liable in a Bus Crash?
Although you might assume that the operator of the bus or a negligent third party will always be found financially responsible in a bus accident, the truth is that these cases are far more complex to litigate than the standard car accident. Hawaii is a no-fault state, which means that the vehicle’s insurance company will be primarily responsible for covering injuries after an accident. However, there could also be any number of other parties and organizations involved in your bus accident claim, ranging from private bus companies to entire school districts to local government branches.
Additionally, the law treats buses differently depending on whether they are “common carriers” or privately operated vehicles. Because public and city buses are part of America’s vast mass transportation network, they are specially regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and required to observe higher safety standards – and carry insurance coverage to match. Private carriers, including charter or tour buses, may not be held to the same standards. That can make it more challenging to get the compensation you need after an accident.
Hawaii Bus Licensing Requirements
In order to drive a bus in Hawaii, a person must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Applications for a CDL are not accepted from those who are under 21 years of age. A CDL application needs to be filled out, and you must take or supply a photo, your current driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate. A medical report from the Department of transportation is also necessary and drivers must also pass a written examination. Meeting these requirements will qualify you for a CDL permit which is good for 6 months and allows the driver to drive commercial vehicles under the supervision of a driver who holds a CDL license. A road test is then administered when the driver feels he is prepared.
To drive a commercial bus, a driver must obtain a “P” endorsement which will allow him to carry passengers. Those who want to drive school buses also need an “S” endorsement in order to driver school children. School bus drivers must also pass a background check conducted by the police.
School Bus Dangers
One of the main concerns regarding school buses is that the majority of them are not equipped with seat belts despite the overwhelming evidence that wearing seat belts save lives. In fact, there have been few safety developments, and the school bus is basically the same as it was in 1977. School buses can also be very noisy and create an environment where the driver could be easily distracted. There are also times when the students may exhibit threatening behaviors, and without adequate security, the bus driver is often forced into becoming a disciplinarian taking his attention away from the road.
These obstacles play a large role in the injuries of over 10,000 kids who are involved in school bus accidents each year. There is also plenty of danger outside of the bus, as nearly three-quarters of fatalities happen to people who are in vehicles other than the bus, and about 1/5 are pedestrians.
Commercial Bus Dangers
Commercial buses are primarily either charter buses used for tourism purposes or part of the public transportation system. In Honolulu, the most common concerns surrounding the Oahu Transit Services (OTS) which most refer to as “the bus.” One major concern with the bus is that a large portion of riders are senior citizens who can easily be injured because of the nature of how the bus moves throughout the city.
Driver actions such as making sharp turns, going over curbs, abrupt braking or accelerating, moving before passengers are safely seated, or closing doors on passengers that have not completely made it on or off the bus all contribute to the sort of turbulence that results in falls. These dangers are most prevalent in seniors, but can potentially happen to anyone riding the bus.
Dedicated to Helping You Recover
When you’ve been hurt in a complex bus accident, it can be overwhelming, and leave you wondering where to turn for assistance. Our Hawaii bus accident team at Davis Levin Livingston is here to hear your story and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries.
With 40 years of combined experience and millions won on behalf of injury victims, our award-winning attorneys know how to get results, even in incredibly complicated bus crash cases. Known for our relentless pursuit of justice, we will handle every aspect of your case so that you can focus on healing.
To schedule your complimentary case evaluation, just call (808) 740-0633 and get assistance from our responsive staff.