If you suffered an injury in a bus accident in Bakersfield, the party at fault could owe you compensation for the harm they caused you, including the cost of your medical care, property repairs, and lost wages. However, getting this money could prove more difficult than it should be. Instead of trying to pursue compensation on your own, turn to a Bakersfield bus accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine for help.
Founding attorney Mickey Fine can boast more than 30 years of legal experience and millions recovered on behalf of our clients. We are ready to serve as the compassionate legal advocates you can need during a difficult time, and we won’t charge a fee unless we secure compensation for you first. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out what a Bakersfield bus accident attorney can do for you.
Why You Should Hire the Law Offices of Mickey Fine After a Bus Accident
Bakersfield, California, is full of lawyers for personal injury making lofty claims. Why choose the Law Offices of Mickey Fine to handle your bus accident case?
Because with us, you get:
- Personalized service. We thoroughly dedicate our time and attention to our clients’ needs. You work directly with Mickey Fine and our team throughout the entire process.
- A respected reputation. Our firm has earned a reputation for hard work, high ethical standards, and dependability. That’s why so many satisfied clients refer their friends and family to us.
- Sophisticated representation. Mickey Fine has over 30 years of legal experience and is not afraid to take a case to trial if that is in your best interest. However, he will start by negotiating aggressively for maximum compensation through a settlement. Our team utilizes innovative legal strategies and consults the foremost experts to achieve superior results.
- A successful record. We have secured millions of dollars for accident victims, including victims who suffered devastating injuries in traffic accidents.
Bus Accident Statistics
Just how common are bus accidents? Consider the following state and national statistics.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) provided the following statewide statistics for one recent year:
- Bus accidents killed three people and injured 1,469. School bus crashes killed none and injured 345.
- Fatal bus crashes involved 32 different bus drivers. Investigators found 12 of these drivers (37.5 percent) at fault for their collisions.
- Injury bus crashes involved 1,753 bus drivers. Investigators found 520 of these drivers (35.4 percent) at fault for their accidents.
- School bus drivers accounted for 294 of the 1,753 bus drivers involved in injury crashes. Investigating officers found 34.4 of these school bus drivers at fault for their accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers these statistics from another recent year:
- One hundred fifty-five fatal bus crashes occurred, killing 176 people, including 16 bus occupants. These numbers represented a significant decrease from 2019, likely due to the decreased demand for public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic. That year, 234 fatal bus crashes occurred, killing 261 people, including 35 bus occupants.
- Transit buses are more frequently involved in fatal crashes than school buses, motor coaches, or van-based buses, accounting for 85 of the 155 fatal crashes that year.
- Seven thousand nonfatal crashes involving buses occurred that year, injuring 14,000 people. These numbers are also a noticeable decrease from 2019, when 13,000 nonfatal crashes injured 25,000 people.
- There are over 1 million buses registered to operate in the United States.
Common Causes of Bakersfield Bus Accidents
The Law Offices of Mickey Fine investigates bus accident cases to determine the cause of the accident, which helps point to the potentially liable party or parties. The following factors cause many Bakersfield bus accidents.
Bus driver error
Driving a bus is physically and mentally demanding, requiring the driver’s full attention. The slightest error can cause a terrible accident and result in devastating injuries to victims.
Examples of bus driver errors include the following:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Improper loading or unloading procedures
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Fatigued driving
- Disobeying traffic lights or signs
Bus company negligence
Bus companies are responsible for their vehicle safety and the actions of their employees, whether they are public or private entities.
Bus company negligence might include:
- Performing inadequate bus maintenance or repairs
- Hiring unqualified or untrained employees
- Pressuring employees to violate regulations, such as driving hour limits
Bus malfunction or defect
Buses contain thousands of parts that must be in good working condition. A defective or malfunctioning part could cause a bus crash resulting in severe injuries.
Examples of defective or malfunctioned bus parts include:
- Safety belts
- Flooring material
- Headlights or taillights
- Interior lights
Another driver’s negligence
Sometimes the driver of another vehicle is responsible for a bus accident, and the bus is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Beyond upholding a typical duty of care to fellow road users, motorists must observe specific rules when driving near buses, such as stopping in both directions to allow school bus passengers to unload.
Common Injuries From Bus Accidents
Bus accidents inflict severe injuries for several reasons. Bus occupants are at risk of injury in part because they rarely have seatbelts. For drivers and passengers of adjacent vehicles, colliding with a bus weighing 10,000 to 30,000 pounds can be devastating.
At the Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we often see bus accident victims with:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue tears, strains, and sprains
- Puncture wounds
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Crushed or amputated body parts
- Spinal cord damage
Bus Rules and Regulations
Federal and state laws require most bus drivers to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from their state licensing agency. In California, drivers of buses designed to carry ten or more passengers (including the driver) must obtain a CDL. Furthermore, bus drivers must obtain a P endorsement to operate a bus designed to transport 16 or more passengers or an S endorsement to operate a school bus.
To obtain a CDL with the appropriate passenger endorsement, an applicant must:
- Pass a knowledge test, which includes questions about procedures, systems, and safety features on passenger transportation vehicles
- Pass a skills test, which involves an in-vehicle driving evaluation to ensure the applicant has mastered the skills necessary to drive a passenger transportation vehicle
- Complete a medical evaluation to ensure the applicant is healthy enough to operate a passenger transportation vehicle
Once a bus driver obtains the necessary licensing and endorsement, they must comply with numerous rules and regulations, including:
- DUI law. California law makes it a crime to operate any commercial vehicle, including a bus, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or higher.
- Driving hour limits. California law limits the number of hours a bus driver can work. The law sets the one-day limit at ten consecutive hours, or ten hours spread over 15 consecutive hours until the driver has eight hours of off-duty time.
- Inspections. Bus drivers must inspect their vehicles before driving, including brakes, steering mechanisms, lights, tires, wipers, horns, and emergency equipment. Drivers must also inspect the bus’s interior to ensure railings, floor coverings, signaling devices, and emergency exits are in safe condition. They should also complete after-trip inspections.
- Loading and unloading. Bus drivers must follow specific procedures for loading and unloading passengers. These procedures are even more detailed for school bus drivers.
- Locations for caution. Bus drivers must take extra caution at high-risk locations, such as intersections and curves. Furthermore, bus drivers must stop 15 to 20 feet before railroad crossings to check for any trains.
Compensation Available for Victims of Bus Accidents
With an attorney’s assistance, bus accident victims can recover compensation from a liable party by filing a claim with that party’s insurance company. If the insurer does not agree to a reasonable amount, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
A lawsuit can put additional pressure on at-fault parties to settle the case before it reaches trial. However, if the other side will not agree to a fair settlement, a highly skilled personal injury attorney will be ready to fight for a victim’s rights at trial.
Bus accident cases can sometimes involve more than one potentially liable party, which may require a victim to file multiple claims with different insurance companies. Filing multiple claims can get complicated, so working with a lawyer who has previously handled bus accident cases is essential.
By filing a claim or lawsuit after a bus accident, you may recover compensation—also called damages in California law—for the following accident-related losses:
- Past and future medical expenses, including hospital and doctor’s visits, surgeries, physical therapy, medication, and medical equipment
- Loss of earnings, including past wages and benefits and future earnings
- Loss of future business or employment opportunities
- Property losses, such as vehicle repairs or replacement
- Cost of substitute domestic services
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
In cases of egregious conduct, a court verdict could award punitive damages, which punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
You must prove that the defendant’s actions exhibited one:
- Malice. Conduct that intends to cause injury or which exhibits willful and conscious disregard for others’ rights or safety
- Oppression. Despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of their rights
- Fraud. Intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment
How Much Is My Bus Accident Claim Worth?
Each bus accident is different, which means insurers will value each bus accident claim differently. With three decades of experience representing accident victims, Mickey Fine can provide a fair estimate to our clients of how much compensation they could claim.
We base this estimate on:
- Your injury’s severity
- Your injury’s impact on your employment, family, and quality of life
- The egregiousness of the at-fault party’s actions
- The strength of the evidence of negligence
We also consider the minimum levels of insurance coverage that the FMCSA requires for passenger carriers:
- Vehicles with seating capacity for 16 or more passengers – $5 million minimum liability insurance
- Vehicles with seating capacity for 15 or fewer passengers – $1.5 million minimum liability insurance
Is There a Deadline to File a Bus Accident Claim?
Under California law, accident victims have two years from the date of an accident to file a suit. While you may not plan to file a lawsuit, you strengthen your negotiating position by keeping that option open.
The longer you wait, the less incentive the insurer has to compensate you fully. It knows the clock is about to expire on your ability to file a lawsuit—and, consequently, to compel it to negotiate. Therefore, you should contact our firm about preparing your bus accident claim as soon as possible.
Claims against government entities have an even stricter deadline. Under the California Tort Claims Act, you have just six months to notify the relevant government entity of your intent to file suit in writing. This deadline and the additional paperwork the law requires are two more reasons to work with an experienced bus accident lawyer in Bakersfield.
Do I Need a Bus Accident Attorney?
While you might consider handling your bus accident claim yourself, you have enough on your plate just trying to recover from your injuries. Furthermore, bus accidents are more complex than the average fender-bender, with more potentially liable parties and sometimes much tighter deadlines. You need a dedicated legal advocate with a proven track record of handling bus accident cases.
That’s what you’ll get when you hire the Law Offices of Mickey Fine. You will work directly with lead attorney Mickey Fine from the beginning, who will stay by your side at every step to answer questions and provide compassionate guidance. Let us fight for your right to compensation after a bus accident that was not your fault.
You won’t pay us anything upfront. Instead, we only get paid if we successfully secure compensation in your case.
Law Offices of Mickey Fine – Bakersfield Office
930 Truxtun Ave, Suite 110
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Phone: (661) 333-3333
I am grateful to Mickey Fine and his wonderful staff for their personal care and support throughout this entire ordeal. Tess and Micheal were great his team definitely went the extra mile for me. I could not have chosen a better attorney and staff , Thank You guys from the bottom of my heart I will…