Who’s Liable After a Wisconsin Bus Accident?

Motor vehicle crashes can be catastrophic, especially when they involve large vehicles such as buses. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were over 10,000 buses involved in crashes across the United States in 2020. 

Because buses are so large, they often cause severe injuries and property damage during an accident, especially when the crash involves a pedestrian, pedalcyclist, or smaller vehicle. Compared to passengers inside a bus, there is a much higher chance that people outside the bus will be injured in an accident.

The personal injury attorneys at Boller & Vaughan are dedicated to helping Wisconsin victims and their families recover financially from motor vehicle crashes. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, we can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation by calling our office at (608) 268-0268 or filling out our online form.

Common Injuries From Bus Accidents

Bus crashes can cause severe injuries and fatalities. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 109 people across the U.S. were killed in crashes involving school buses in 2019. Of those fatalities, only 9 were people inside the school bus (drivers or passengers). All of the other fatalities were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or pedal cyclists. 

Bus crashes happen often in Wisconsin too. According to the state’s Department of Transportation, there were 835 school bus crashes in the state in 2019, but there were no fatalities among the occupants of the school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has extremely high safety standards for school transportation vehicles, so it’s very uncommon for school bus occupants to die in crashes.

There are also many accidents that involve mass transit buses and private tour buses. However, these vehicles are usually categorized with “large trucks” in crash statistics, so it’s difficult to know exactly how many crashes involved non-school buses. Data from the FMCSA indicates that nationally in 2018, there were 5.43 persons injured in large truck and bus crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Even when there are no deaths, bus accidents can cause severe injuries:

The chance of sustaining a severe injury from a bus crash is far higher for individuals who aren’t occupants of the bus. However, bus drivers and passengers can still be injured, especially because many school buses and mass transit buses do not have seat belts for anyone other than the driver.

Frequent Causes of Bus Crashes

Common causes of bus accidents are similar to those of car crashes. 

  • Distracted driving
  • Road conditions/construction
  • Negligence

However, bus crashes also have some unique causes. Because buses are large and difficult to maneuver, they can crash easily in urban areas that are heavily populated and have narrow streets and intersections. Buses are also heavy, and weight distribution issues can affect stability and lead to accidents.

Who Is Liable in a Bus Crash?

In any crash, determining liability can be complicated, especially when there are many vehicles and/or pedestrians involved. The same is true of bus crashes. The unique details of the crash can affect which party is deemed legally responsible. 

In most bus accident cases, however, the owner/operator of the bus is held liable. This may be true even if there is negligence or distraction on the part of the driver, because he or she is an employee of the bus company.

There are other parties that could be liable after a bus accident. For example, the school district may be liable in a crash that involves a school bus. In an accident involving a private tour bus or mass transit bus, the company or organization that owns and operates the bus may be liable. Additionally, a bus manufacturing company may be held liable for a crash if it was caused by a malfunction or a defect in the bus itself.

In a personal injury lawsuit following a bus accident, a victim may be able to pursue compensation from a number of liable parties:

  • A negligent or distracted driver
  • The company that hired the driver
  • The bus manufacturer
  • The school district that employed the driver

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you figure out whether you have a claim against an individual and/or company after a bus crash.

Get Compensation After a Bus Crash with Help From an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a school bus or mass transit vehicle, you know how devastating it can be. You may have to figure out how to deal with medical bills and potential job loss while you are recovering from injuries. A bus crash can be emotionally difficult when the victim did nothing to cause the accident.

At Boller & Vaughan, we are dedicated to helping victims get fair compensation after a motor vehicle crash. We’ve helped numerous Wisconsin families pursue personal injury claims after bus accidents. When you call us, we’ll discuss your unique situation and help you figure out the next legal steps. 

To contact our office in Madison, Wisconsin, call (608) 268-0268, or use the online form. For more information on vehicle accidents and personal injury cases, follow Boller & Vaughan on Twitter.


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Disclaimer: The personal injury, wrongful death, negligence, automobile accident and/or other legal information offered herein by Boller & Vaughan L.L.C., Madison Personal Injury Lawyers, is not formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based only upon the facts of that particular case and offer no promise or guarantee on the outcome of any case. This site is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Wisconsin.
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