Articles Posted in Bus Accident

The Nation’s Capital draws millions of tourists each year. While the area benefits from the tourism revenue, tourists can also make the city, as well as the surrounding areas, feel overly crowded, especially in the summer months. In addition, the influx of tour buses creates a serious hazard for Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists.

While tour buses are probably best known for causing minor annoyances, such as taking up several parking spots on already crowded streets or stopping at inconvenient locations to pick up and drop off passengers, the reality is that tour buses have the potential to cause major catastrophes. Of course, Maryland bus accidents can affect the passengers on the bus, but inattentive bus drivers also put pedestrians and other motorists at risk.

When a tour bus is involved in a serious or fatal Maryland traffic accident, those who were injured in the accident can pursue a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. If the accident resulted in the death, the accident victim’s family members may be entitled to compensation through a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Determining which parties are responsible can be tricky; however, this determination is also imperative because serious Maryland bus accidents may result in significant liability that may exceed the insurance limits of just one party. Commonly named parties include:

  • the bus driver,
  • the company that owns the bus, and
  • other motorists who may have contributed to the accident.

Of course, depending on the facts surrounding the accident, there may be additional liable parties.
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Each day, thousands of students ride Maryland school buses to and from school. For the most part, these trips are short and uneventful. However, each year there are a significant number of Maryland school bus accidents. While most of these accidents involve low speeds and do not result in serious injury to the students, that is not always the case.

Student Killed in Bus Accident on the Way Home from Championship Football Game

Earlier this month, a fatal bus accident in Arkansas claimed the life of one student and injured 45 others. According to a local news report, the accident occurred on an empty highway at around 2:40 in the morning.

Evidently, the bus was carrying a youth-football team that had played a championship game earlier that weekend. The bus departed from Dallas, Texas and was traveling back to Memphis Tennessee. After the accident, the driver of the bus told police that she lost control of the vehicle as it drifted off the side of the road. Once off the roadway, the bus rolled over onto its side. One nine-year-old boy died from the injuries he sustained in the accident, and 45 others were injured. Most of those on board the bus were children; however, there were a few adult chaperones.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that commonly arises in Maryland bus accident lawsuits. The case presented the court with the task of determining if the instructions given to the jury regarding the aggravation of the plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant’s actions aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition, and thus it reversed the jury’s verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus when a motorist pulled out in front of the bus, leaving the bus driver with an inadequate distance to stop. The bus collided with the vehicle, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff complained of lower back pain and stiffness, which he claimed was a result of the accident. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with disc degeneration. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing the admissibility of certain evidence presented by the defense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was properly excluded and affirmed the $1.2 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case is important for Maryland public transit accident victims because it illustrates the importance of expert testimony, as well as the importance of keeping potentially harmful evidence out of the jury’s consideration.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a public transportation vehicle. Although the damage to each vehicle was minor, the plaintiff suffered lingering injuries as a result, including bulging discs.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation authority, arguing that the negligence of the driver caused his injuries. In its defense, the transportation authority presented the testimony of an expert witness who planned on testifying regarding the “severity of the impact.” Evidently, the expert’s area of study involved the forces that are present in car accidents and how those forces relate to commonly experienced forces someone may experience in everyday life. The expert was not to present any medical evidence or opinion.

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Earlier this week, an accident involving two semi-trucks, two buses, and several passenger cars sent 29 people to the hospital, several with serious injuries. According to a local news report, the collision occurred in the evening hours during a time when roads were slick due to the recent snowfall.

Given the magnitude of the accident, authorities have yet to determine exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. Witnesses told reporters that the two semi-trucks involved in the accident were traveling at a high rate of speed, which resulted in the trucks being unable to stop in time to avoid the collision. Once the trucks crashed into the buses, other motorists nearby got involved in a chain-reaction accident, similar to many Maryland bus accidents that we have seen.

One of the buses was pushed off to the side of the road, where it teetered on the edge of an embankment. Those on board were told not to move until it was safe to do so. Accident reconstructionists surveyed the scene and its aftermath, and the accident is still under official investigation.

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The truth is that most drivers roll through the occasional stop sign. However, the fact that running a stop sign is a common occurrence among motorists does not make it acceptable. Running a stop sign is a very dangerous driving behavior. In fact, drivers who run stop signs cause approximately 700,000 accidents each year. In roughly one-third of these accidents, someone is seriously injured.

When a driver runs a stop sign and causes an accident, that driver may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result. However, several issues can arise in a personal injury case alleging that a driver ran a stop sign. Initially, the issue of credibility may come up, meaning that unless there are independent witnesses who can testify to what happened, a driver may offer up a self-serving version of what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. With the increase in popularity of private surveillance video, there is a chance that an accident is caught on camera, but that may only be revealed through an in-depth investigation.

Another issue that may arise is the injured motorist’s own role in the accident. In Maryland, any motorist who is even the slightest bit at fault for causing an accident is not permitted to recover compensation for their injuries. This means that a defendant may be able to avoid liability completely by shifting just a small portion of the blame onto an accident victim.

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Over the past several years, technology has advanced to the point at which almost every motorist has at least one electronic gadget with them at all times. Whether it be a cell phone or a GPS system, drivers have begun to rely heavily on these external gadgets to assist them in reaching their destination. While responsible use of a GPS system or a cell-phone navigation app does not necessarily present a safety issue, the reality is that drivers are not always responsible when it comes to using these items.

When a driver’s attention is removed from the road – even for a split second – the chance of causing an accident greatly increases. Indeed, it is estimated that one in four traffic accidents are caused by texting and driving. Some studies suggest that distracted driving is even more dangerous than drunk driving.

Despite the known dangers of distracted driving, motorists continue to use their phones when behind the wheel. In Maryland, it is illegal to talk or text on the phone while driving. Motorists can only use their cell phones with approved hands-free devices. While a violation of Maryland’s texting-while-driving ban will only result in a $40 fine for a first-time offender, there may be more significant penalties if an accident is caused as a result.

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Late last month, an accident between a pick-up truck and a bus resulted in 13 fatalities. According to a news report covering the tragic accident, the driver of the pick-up truck may have been texting in the moments leading up to the fatal accident.

Evidently, about 15 minutes prior to the accident, another motorist who was driving behind the pick-up truck noticed that the truck was swerving, crossing in and out of the oncoming lane of traffic. The motorist called the sheriff’s department in two neighboring counties, telling authorities that the driver should be stopped due to his dangerous driving. However, authorities did not respond in time.

The pick-up truck eventually veered into oncoming traffic, directly into the path of a church bus with 14 occupants inside. The driver of the bus was unable to avoid the truck, and the two vehicles collided head-on. Twelve of the passengers aboard the bus were pronounced dead at the scene, and another was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital.

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Bus drivers, like other motorists, have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. However, unlike drivers of personal vehicles, most bus drivers are commercially licensed and are operating as “common carriers.” Simply put, a common carrier is a person or company that transports passengers for a fee. Examples of common carriers include buses, taxi-cabs, and semi-trucks.

Drivers always have a duty of care to ensure that they are safely operating their vehicles. This includes a duty to all other motorists on the road, as well as to the passengers inside the driver’s vehicle. However, the duty that a common carrier owes to its passengers is greater than the duty a member of the general public owes to a passenger.

Lawsuits brought against common carriers in the wake of a serious or fatal accident must meet several criteria before the injured party is entitled to compensation. Primarily, the injured party must show that the common carrier was somehow negligent. This most often is proven through evidence showing that the carrier was somehow careless or reckless in the operation or maintenance of the vehicle.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion that may be of interest to anyone who has recently been injured in a bus or shuttle accident. In the case, Huang v. The Bicycle Casino, the court held that a free shuttle offered by a casino for the benefit of its guests may mean that the casino is acting as a common carrier, giving rise to a heightened duty to keep passengers safe. While the court reserved judgment on that specific issue, the court did hold that the casino does have a duty to protect the passengers, even from other unruly or unsafe passengers.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant casino offered a free shuttle to its patrons. The shuttle held about 40 people, and due to the shuttle’s popularity among patrons, there would often be a line of passengers waiting at various stops. On the day in question, Huang was waiting with between 40 and 70 others, all hoping to get a seat on the shuttle. As the shuttle pulled up, all the patrons ran to board the shuttle and secure a seat. However, as Huang stepped onto the shuttle, the crowd behind her surged, causing her to misstep, fall, and injure her ankle.

Huang filed a negligence lawsuit against the casino, claiming that as a common carrier, the casino had a duty to ensure safe boarding of the shuttle. Common carriers, such as buses, trains, and taxis, are in the business of transporting the public and owe a higher duty to passengers than a regular citizen who may offer a friend a ride as a courtesy. In response to Huang’s claims, the casino argued that it was not acting as a common carrier in operating the shuttle, and any duty it did owe to Huang did not include the duty to prevent negligent or aggressive actions by other passengers on the shuttle. The trial court agreed with the casino and granted its motion for summary judgment. Huang appealed.

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