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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132
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