Bus Injury Accident Attorney in STL
In large metropolitan areas like St. Louis, buses are among the most popular forms of transportation. They offer an inexpensive means of getting to work, school, or popular tourist destinations. While bus drivers need special licenses to provide these services, they still make mistakes. This leads to an increased risk of serious injury and death during St. Louis bus crashes.
Because bus accidents are often mass casualty events, insurance compensation is limited. Connect with a dedicated bus accident lawyer quickly if a negligent bus driver injured you in St. Louis or the Metro East.
If you’re injured in a Missouri bus crash, it’s important to CONTACT an experienced St. Louis bus accident injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights. The St. Louis auto accident lawyers at The Dixon Injury Firm are available to offer legal guidance and representation for claims throughout Missouri.
Common Causes of Dangerous St. Louis Bus Crashes
MetroBuses, school buses, and discount tourism companies also frequently cut maintenance and safety corners. These cuts can lead to buses with broken seatbelts or handhelds, including school children.
Large buses are extremely difficult to operate as it is. Drivers must undergo special training to learn how to stop these heavy vehicles, navigate blind spots, protect passengers during pick up and drop-offs, and handle intoxicated riders. Sometimes drivers have no control over bus accidents, especially when the vehicle breaks down or another driver/pedestrian causes the crash.
In other cases, driver fatigue and inexperience cause serious St. Louis bus accident injuries. School bus accidents account for 40 percent of fatal bus crashes overall, followed by private transit buses (35 percent) and intercity metro buses (12 percent).
Consider the following common reported causes of bus crashes and passenger injuries in the United States:
- Narrow City Streets – In metro areas such as St. Louis, congested city streets narrowed by parked vehicles often lead to bus crashes. This includes fatal accidents involving pedestrians, who may suddenly step out between parked vehicles. Bus drivers must carefully maneuver these large vehicles around city obstacles despite their relative lack of maneuverability. Injured pedestrians and passengers might demand damages from negligent bus drivers, employers, and even the owners of illegally parked vehicles.
- Driver Fatigue – Bus drivers must follow FMCSA hours of service regulations due to the prevalence of fatigue-related accidents. Bus drivers may not work for more than 10 hours each day and must take at least 8 hours off before going back on duty. Weekly driving limits and mandatory rest provisions also apply. Studies indicate that extreme fatigue mirrors the symptoms of drunk driving, including causing delayed reaction times and blurry vision.
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse – Bus drivers often have thankless jobs requiring constant mental focus. As such, many turn to prescription drugs or alcohol to deal with stress and fatigue. These behaviors often lead to addiction and DWI accidents.
- Brake and Tire Failures – It’s expensive to maintain fleets of buses, and as such, owners frequently cut corners. Large buses need industrial airbrake systems to help them stop, but system failures often lead to rear-end collisions and striking pedestrian accidents. Tire blowout and related loss of control accidents also frequently occur when the bus’s tires cannot handle vehicle weight and wear.
- Speeding – Long, large vehicles such as buses have higher centers of gravity, meaning they’re more susceptible to rollover accidents. This often occurs when buses turn sharp corners, such as highway exits, at excessive speeds. St. Louis rollover accidents frequently result in multiple passenger injuries and potentially fatal chain-reaction crashes.
- Unsafe Lane Changes – Large commercial vehicles often contain multiple blind spots requiring constant monitoring. Even safe bus drivers can miss smaller vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians in their blind spots resulting in potentially fatal merging accidents. This often occurs when buses pull into bus stops that require crossing over St. Louis bike lanes.
- Low Bridges and Overpasses – Bus drivers increasingly use private GPS systems, including phone applications, that by design are not meant for commercial vehicles. These applications frequently direct drivers onto streets with low overpasses, resulting in sudden sheering accidents. Because most St. Louis metro and school bus drivers have designated routes, these accidents are more common among private transportation and transit companies.
- Door Closing and Dragging – This isn’t just something out of the movies. Children and adults have suffered from traumatic brain injuries, fractures, and spinal damage after bus drivers closed doors on their legs and backpacks and dragged them down the road. These accidents often occur when drivers are distracted and fatigued, especially when they’re on time-sensitive routes.
Due to buses’ inherent weight and size, seemingly minor fender-bender accidents often cause serious accidents and fatalities. Buses striking pedestrians with any force, even at five mph, can easily propel unprotected persons into the hard pavement resulting in fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
The force of rear-end collisions also disproportionately travels through smaller vehicle occupants resulting in painful whiplash, herniated discs, and spinal cord damage. Most collisions do not occur absent negligent or reckless conduct. As such, knowledgeable St. Louis bus accident lawyers might help injured passengers and innocent pedestrians obtain needed financial damages.
Understanding Federal Regulations Applicable to St. Louis Passenger Carriers (Buses)
Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, buses are generally called passenger carriers. Both public and private passenger carriers fall under FMCSA jurisdiction if they operate for interstate commerce, are capable of transporting eight or more passengers for compensation (or 15 or more passengers regardless of compensation), and weigh over 10,000 pounds. Because St. Louis straddles the line between Missouri and Illinois, most city buses must follow FMCSA safety and insurance guidelines.
Some of the most common federal regulations bus drivers and companies violate include those covering:
- Mandatory maintenance
- Mandatory tire checks and replacements
- Hours of service regulations
- Driver drug, alcohol, and health testing
- Seat belt and interior safety features
- Maximum passenger capacity
Federal law further requires fleet owners to carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance for each large bus (seating capacity above 15) and $1,500,000 for each small bus (seating capacity under 15).
Experienced bus accident lawyers frequently begin their crash investigations by determining whether the bus driver/owner violated applicable passenger carrier regulations. Proving that the bus driver/owner violated St. Louis traffic laws or federal provisions might entitle injured claimants to accelerated liability determinations.
Many public and private buses also contain black boxes and cameras, which experts might use to analyze the buses’ crash force and speed. Experienced bus crash lawyers must act quickly to preserve this data, as companies may delete the footage or claim the technology malfunctioned.
Most Common Injuries Associated with Metro East and St. Louis Bus Crashes
Because large buses often lack certain safety features, passengers may experience unique bus accident injuries. Bus crashes also combine falling injuries with motor vehicle accidents, the two most injurious events in the United States. Likewise, large buses and trucks weigh approximately ten times more than the average sedan and 1,000 times more than the average pedestrian.
This weight differential means even slow-moving buses impact smaller vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians with extreme force causing these disabling injuries:
- Compound and comminuted leg and arm fractures
- Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
- Whiplash and herniated discs (neck and back pain)
- Paralysis due to spinal cord damage
- Concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries)
- Severe brain trauma resulting in comas, vegetative states, or brain death
- Third-degree burns and smoke inhalation injuries from motor vehicle fires
- Skull fractures and impalement injuries from falling debris (overpass accidents)
- Chest contusions resulting in lung and heart damage
- Dislocated shoulders and knees
- Road rash, lacerations, and contusions
- Broken wrists and ankles
High-speed bus crashes or drowsy driving accidents often result in mass casualty events, many among school children. Whether you were a passenger, pedestrian, or occupied another vehicle when the bus accident occurred, you might obtain substantial financial damages with the help of the Dixon Injury Firm.
Parties Potentially Liable for Bus Accidents in St. Louis
Bus crashes involve unique liability laws because multiple individuals or entities may share responsibility for your financial damages. This generally depends on your status when the accident occurred, whether a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian. However, most St. Louis Metro, school bus, and tourist collisions support personal injury claims against the following parties:
#1. The Bus Driver
If the bus driver negligently or recklessly caused the crashes, injured parties may sue him/her directly in civil court. Claimants might even demand punitive damages from drunk drivers or drivers who acted with extreme recklessness. However, most St. Louis bus drivers do not have the personal resources to justly compensate injured claimants-especially when multiple passengers suffered injuries.
They may declare bankruptcy immediately after receiving the personal injury verdict, which greatly limits the claimant’s ability to recover financial damages. Attorneys often need to sue the bus driver to trigger employer liability, but your financial recovery does not come from the driver himself.
#2. The Bus Driver’s Employer
In cases involving city metro and school buses, the driver often works for the City of St. Louis. The traditional legal doctrine of respondeat superior holds employers responsible for the unlawful actions of their working employees, such as bus drivers. This means claimants must sue the City.
Bringing public tort claims against either Missouri or Illinois means invoking special tort liability laws that limit public liability for accidents, providing notice of injury claims, and attending administrative hearings. Claimants must file public bus accident claims quickly to preserve their rights. As such, it’s essential to contact an experienced St. Louis public bus crash injury attorney in the weeks following the crash. Traditional personal injury rules apply to private employers, like Greyhound, for example.
#3. The Registered Bus Owner
FMCSA laws require registered bus owners to maintain accident insurance policies ($5,000,000/$1,500,000). The vehicle owner is also vicariously (indirectly) liable for bus accident injuries in St. Louis. If the city-though the Metropolitan Saint Louis Transit Agency or local school district-owned the vehicle, claimants must generally undergo public claims procedures. Traditional injury liability laws apply to private owners.
#4. Other Drivers, Negligent Pedestrians, and Unruly Passengers
Sometimes negligent drivers trying to go around buses cause mass casualty bus crashes. Likewise, pedestrians may suddenly step in front of the bus requiring the driver to stop short. Third parties may bear substantial liability for the crash. This means injured passengers (even the bus driver himself) might claim damages from the negligent driver’s private auto insurance policy. These damages are limited, and negligent pedestrians do not generally have the resources necessary to compensate claimants. As such, most claims settle with the bus owners’ insurance provider.
#5. Parts Manufacturers
The FMCSA reports that mechanical failures, such as brake and tire issues, often contribute to fatal bus accidents. In some cases, experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyers may sue the manufacturer and dealer of the defective part for products liability. This strict liability tort may hold parts designers, manufacturers, and sellers liable if their equipment breaks or doesn’t function as marketed.
Over 90 percent of all viable bus accident claims settle with the bus owner’s insurance provider. However, difficulties arise if the driver denies acting negligently and multiple injured claimants demand damages from the same accident. Large bus crashes resulting in over 20 serious injuries mean each claimant is trying to obtain a piece of the applicable liability policy. Failing to contact an experienced St. Louis bus accident lawyer quickly could limit your available damages.
Once the insurer pays out the policy maximum-normally $5,000,000/$1,5000,000-it’s no longer responsible for paying injury judgments and settling claims. This drastically limits available damages, as one serious brain injury or paralyzing accident may support individual multiple-million dollar verdicts.
Act Quickly to Preserve Bus Accident Injury Claims in St. Louis
Bus accidents-especially mass casualty crashes-are the most legally complex motor vehicle injury cases in St. Louis. Passenger carrier accidents often involve multiple injured claimants, liable employers, federal legal violations, public liability, and a time-sensitive claims process. Even if you follow all claims regulations, bus crashes often involve potentially limited insurance coverage. Injured claimants need dedicated, knowledgeable, and aggressive bus accident injury lawyers in St. Louis.
Maximize the value of your claims and protect your right to demand compensation with the experienced St. Louis bus accident litigators at the Dixon Injury Firm. We accept most viable cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless you recover needed damages. Schedule a free and confidential bus accident injury consultation with us today by calling (314) 208-2808 or reaching out online.
St. Louis Bus Accident FAQs
St. Louis is a bustling city that has the traffic to prove it. When you decide to take a bus, you can leave all the inconveniences of battling traffic, finding your destination, and securing parking to the professional driver who is at the wheel.
Bus accidents tend to be quite dangerous because buses carry many passengers and are far heavier and larger than other vehicles on our roads. If a bus driver’s negligence leaves you injured in a bus accident, the experienced bus accident attorneys at Dixon Injury Firm are ready to help. We have a wealth of experience successfully handling challenging bus accident claims like yours, and we’re here for you, too.
The following are common questions about bus accident and injury claims in the St. Louis area. To discuss your specific situation, reach out to speak with our legal team today.
#1. What are bus options in St. Louis?
Buses are a great way to get around the great city of St. Louis, and they can be helpful when your car is in the shop, you want to avoid parking at a Cardinals or Blues game, or you want affordable transportation to get to work. Metro Transit runs the public transportation system in St. Louis, with 75 MetroBus routes throughout the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Metro East. About 110,000 people board MetroBuses every day.
In addition to public buses, there are school buses everywhere you look, transporting hundreds of thousands of students to and from the hundreds of schools in the Metropolitan area. Occasionally, there is also the infamous Loop Trolley that is in and out of commission.
Unfortunately, as much convenience as buses add to our lives in St. Louis, they get into too many accidents that hurt far too many people. Successful legal claims against them require a lot of work and experience that we can provide you.
#2. What are the most common causes of bus accidents?
A significant number of bus accidents result from negligence of bus drivers. Bus drivers are professional drivers who must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), have considerable experience and driving skills, and follow exacting safety rules and restrictions. When bus drivers fail to live up to their safety responsibilities behind the wheel, dangerous bus accidents can result. Unfortunately, bus driver negligence can come in a wide range of dangerous forms.
#I. Failure to Follow the Rules of the Road
When bus drivers ignore the rules of the road, they greatly increase the risk of an accident. Pushing lights, rolling through stop signs, failing to signal lane changes, and other examples of a lax adherence to the rules can all prove exceptionally dangerous behind the wheel of a bus.
Distraction is an exceedingly dangerous form of driver negligence, and it is becoming more and more of a problem on the streets of St. Louis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists three basic categories of distraction, including:
- Distractions that catch a driver’s eye
- Distractions that require a driver to remove their hands from the wheel
- Distractions that absorb a driver’s thoughts
Texting is a distraction capable of melding all three of these dangerous forms of distraction into one colossal distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that it takes an average of about five seconds to read or send a text.
If the driver texts at highway speeds, they keep eyes, hands, and thoughts otherwise occupied for about the length of a football field. The CDC shares that in one year alone, distracted drivers injured more than 400,000 people and killed another 2,800. Additionally, NHTSA also reports that 3,143 people lost their lives to distracted driving. The danger associated with distracted bus drivers is very real.
The law harshly punishes commercial drivers who drive while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Alcohol is associated with physical, cognitive, and sensory impairments that render bus drivers unsafe.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s standards, offenses that disqualify people from holding Commercial Driver’s Licenses include driving a commercial motor vehicle, such as a bus, while under the influence of alcohol (regardless of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration-BAC) and driving with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher (which is far lower than for noncommercial drivers). Further, carrying a CDL implies consent for alcohol testing in any jurisdiction throughout the nation.
Long hours behind the wheel can be exhausting, and bus drivers are no exception to this rule. The effects of exhaustion on drivers are becoming better understood, and the upshot is not encouraging.
Consider the following National Safety Council (NSC) statistics:
- Motorists’ ability to react safely to risk factors on the road, ability to sustain their attention, and ability to identify hazards on the road generally all decline in direct relation to how drowsy the drivers are.
- Motorists who have been without sleep for more than 20 hours experience impairments that rival those experienced by drivers who are over the legal limit (0.08 percent BAC).
- Fatigued motorists are three times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents.
Drowsy bus drivers are dangerous bus drivers.
#V. Excess Speed
Buses are immense, which means that they require longer stopping distances. Excess speed exacerbates the issue. The NSC shares that in addition to increasing stopping distances, excess speed leaves drivers less time to react safely to dangers on the road and decreases the efficacy of safety structures on the road, including guardrails, crash cushions, concrete barriers, and more.
Further, in a recent year, excess speed played a primary role in a full 26 percent of all traffic deaths. Speeding makes accidents more likely and increases the chances of fatal accidents. Bus drivers who choose to exceed the posted speed limit or who drive too fast for the condition of the road, including the effects of bad weather, make bus accidents far more likely.
#3. What Damages Can I Recover in a Lawsuit?
If a bus driver’s negligence leaves you injured in a bus accident, you can seek compensation for the losses (or legal damages) you incur for:
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Medical expenses, which may need to address ongoing healthcare needs
- Lost income related to time lost on the job and any related decrease in your earning potential
- Your physical and psychological pain and suffering
Important components of your bus accident claim include identifying your damages and providing ample supporting evidence.
#4. Can the bus company share liability?
While the bus driver represents the first line of defense when it comes to avoiding bus accidents, the bus company itself can share considerable liability in the matter.
In fact, the bus company is responsible for:
- Hiring bus drivers with the necessary license, experience, and reliability
- Maintaining its fleet of buses in good working order
- Hiring bus mechanics with the necessary experience and skill and providing them with the quality tools and parts to keep the buses running safely
- Implementing and enforcing rules and regulations that ensure their drivers remain within the safety parameters set for commercial drivers
- Not pushing their bus drivers to overperform
- Implementing and enforcing regularly scheduled maintenance of the buses that make up its fleet
#5. Why do I need a bus accident attorney?
While there is no requirement that you have a bus accident attorney in your corner, doing so significantly improves your chances of obtaining just compensation that covers your full range of losses (in their entirety).
Bus accident claims tend to be quite complicated, and you can count on the bus company’s insurance provider to try everything possible to keep your settlement low. The insurance company, while paid to cover your related losses, is in the business of turning a profit, and keeping settlements low or denying claims is the primary tool at its disposal for doing so.
In defense of your rights and pursuit of your fair compensation, your dedicated bus accident attorney will:
- Gather the relevant evidence and create your strongest claim
- Procure expert witnesses in support of the points made by your claim
- Communicate with the insurance company on your behalf
- Skillfully negotiate with the insurance company to pursue your claim’s most advantageous resolution
- Prepare for court
- Help you understand the claims process and make the right decisions for you along the way
#6. Can’t I trust the insurance company to address my claim fairly?
In a word, no, you cannot trust the insurance company to address your claim fairly. Again, the insurance company is in business to pull in immense profits, and they don’t maximize these profits by paying out fairly on every claim that comes their way. In fact, the insurance company may have several tricks up its sleeve to keep claims as low as possible.
#I. Denying Your Claim from the Get-Go
If the insurance company denies your claim early on, don’t be overly discouraged. The law will ultimately determine if your claim is valid, not the insurance company. Often an early denial attempts to weed out claimants who are too worn down to fight back. Our lawyers try to flip the tables and wear down the insurance company into paying what you deserve.
#II. Making an Early Settlement Offer
While an early settlement offer may feel like a real gift, don’t be too quick to buy into this. Often, early settlements are a way to close out claims before claimants recognize just how extensive their losses are. Rest assured that the insurance company knows exactly how financially desperate you are feeling and is not ashamed to take advantage of this fact.
#III. Artificially Complicating the Claims Process
If you have suffered injuries in a bus accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you can expect the claims process to be plenty complicated. If the insurance company chooses to make it more so, it is likely a bid to pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement offer out of frustration and desperation.
#IV. Pressuring Victims to Provide Recorded Statements
Pressuring bus accident victims to provide recorded statements is another common tactic insurers use to minimize their liability. Their goal is to get to say things on the record that they can use to justify making lower settlement offers or denying their claims entirely. For this reason, you should never talk to the insurance company without your lawyer present.
#V. Advising Victims to Not Retain an Attorney
The insurance company may also tell you that you do not need to retain a bus accident lawyer and that doing so will just cut into your bottom line. In reality, what they are trying to do is prevent you from learning about the real value of your claim so that they can get you to settle for less than you deserve.
#7. Can I afford to hire an experienced bus accident attorney?
Many claimants fear that hiring a bus accident attorney is out of reach and try to handle their claims themselves. Your claim and your future, however, are far too important to follow this path. When the stakes are high-the way they are in bus accident claims-having a seasoned bus accident attorney on your side can play a pivotal role in your claim’s overall success.
Fortunately, there is no financial risk associated with retaining our bus accident attorneys, as we work on contingency. Working on contingency means our pay depends on-or is contingent on-how our clients’ claims conclude. If your claim settles or receives a court award, you’ll owe us a predetermined percentage of the amount. If your claim does not, however, you won’t owe anything.
Do Not Delay-Consult an Experienced St. Louis Bus Accident Attorney Today
If someone else’s negligence injured you, you face a difficult path forward.
Fortunately, the St. Louis bus accident lawyers at The Dixon Injury Firm-proudly serving both St. Louis and Metro East areas-are standing by to help. Our savvy legal team has impressive reserves of experience successfully advocating for our clients’ best interests, and we are here for you, too. For more information about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us at (314) 208-2808 today.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132
I highly recommend Chris Dixon to anyone dealing with a personal injury case. He was there every step of the way, he was prompt and easy to get a hold of at any time during this process. He is very educated and highly skilled in his field and helped me receive the best medical attention possible. If you’re looking for the best personal injury in St. Louis, look no further. Chris Dixon, in my eyes, is the best!
– Ryan B.
Related Practice Areas
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