PASSENGER SAFETY: A LEGAL RESPONSBILITY
TRIMET BUS ACCIDENTS
TriMet is the regional transit provider in the Portland metropolitan area, with a service area of approximately 570 square miles, and supplies its passengers with commuter rail service (WES), bus service, and light rail service (MAX). In 2020, TriMet conducted over 77,000,000 trips across 85 bus routes. With millions of rides each year, accidents are bound to happen. On average, TriMet has about 600 bus accidents per year. These accidents can be devastating and can have long-term effects on your health, finances, and family. Jonah is a veteran personal injury lawyer and is here to help you recover and ensure you receive full compensation for your injuries.
ACT NOW: YOU ONLY HAVE 180 DAYS TO FILE YOUR CLAIM WITH TRIMET
TriMet is a public agency in Oregon, and, just like claims against any public body there are certain requirements which must be met prior to filing suit. You MUST file a TriMet Claim Report within 180 days of your accident, you’re your claim will be barred forever. In the case of a death, you have one year to file your Claim Report. This means you should consider retaining an experienced bus accident attorney as soon as possible, so that your lawyer can investigate and prepare your claims. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT SURE YOU WANT TO SUE TRIMET, YOU MUST FILE YOUR CLAIM WITHIN 180 DAYS. Time is of the essence, and your tort claim notice must provide the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your claim.
Bus operators owe the “Highest Duty of Care” to Passengers.
Bus operators, including charter operators, are “common carriers.” Under the law a common carrier owes its passengers the highest degree of care and skill practicable for it to exercise. While bus drivers must follow the same rules of the road that all drivers must follow, there are additional standards which apply to bus drivers. Because buses, including TriMet buses, Greyhound buses and charter operators, are considered “common carriers,” passengers on transportation for hire buses are owed a higher degree of care than others—essentially an extraordinary duty of care. If you are injured on a bus, you can sue the bus owner or operator for injuries sustained. This includes any accidents which occurred as you are stepping on or off a bus, or any slip and fall accidents or violent crime which occurred to you on the bus. In some special circumstances, the driver is required to help passengers on or off a bus. The higher degree of care which bus operators must provide passengers can, in some circumstances, make it easier to hold TriMet liable for passenger injuries.
CONDUCTING AN INVESTIGATION
The strength of your case will depend on your attorney gathering evidence and presenting it to a jury. An adequate investigation will determine who is at fault. Successful claims require a full, thorough investigation of the driver, the accident, and any other vehicles involved. Your attorney should investigate to determine whether the bus driver was negligent, including the following:
- Driver Training (including training by the driver’s employer);
- Inadequate Bus Maintenance, including brake maintenance;
- Traffic laws which the bus driver violated;
- Gathering any videos from the bus, both of the passenger area and of traffic conditions just prior to the accidents;
- Cameras in the area of the accident, including from neighboring businesses and police departments.
- Reviewing police reports and photographs;
- Taking photographs and video of the scene with a photographer hired by your lawyer;
- Weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Collecting witness statements, including interviews of witnesses, other passengers, and law enforcement;
- Collecting and reviewing your medical records and consulting with medical experts to establish your injuries;
- Accident reconstruction and re-creation, using recreation specialists and biomechanics experts.
If you hire a lawyer to pursue a bus accident case, the lawyer should investigate the cause of the accident, interview all witnesses who were on the bus or in the area of the wreck, and anyone who saw what happened during the wreck or just prior.
WHY ARE BUS ACCIDENTS SO DANGEROUS?
Several factors contribute to the severity of bus crashes:
- SIZE: The average city bus is 40 feet long with an empty “Gross Vehicle Weight” of 43,000 pounds. There are some buses which are 60 feet long and weigh up to 70,000 pounds (for reference, the average empty tractor trailer weighs 35,000 pounds). When a bus is involved in a crash, the mass of the bus combined with its speed can produce tragic results and severe injuries.
- DESIGN: Large busses—often loaded with passengers—-are boxy, top-heavy vehicles with poor handling characteristics and no passenger restraint systems. These busses navigate crowded streets and the drivers are often under time pressure. At rush hour, busses are huge obstacles to the average passenger vehicle.
Bus accidents can have devastating effects on your family, health, and finances. Often, insurance coverage for bus accidents can be difficult to locate; we are here to help you get back on your feet and will fight to ensure justice is served.
When a bus accident occurs, the bus driver, passengers, and other drivers on the road can all have injuries. Injuries we frequently see in bus accident cases are:
- Head Injuries
- Spine injuries – Damage to the discs and vertebrae which run up and down the spine. These are common in bus accident cases and bus collisions, and can have life changing effects. The pain and suffering caused by a spinal cord injury can be, and often is, substantial. Severe spine injuries can lead to partial paralysis.
- Broken bones and severe lacerations – Bus passengers can be thrown violently around the passenger compartment of a bus, causing broken bones.
- Neck Injuries and Whiplash
- Sprained and torn ligaments, including torn knee cartilage
- Broken and cracked ribs
- Lumbar Disc herniation.
- Cervical Strain and cervical disc herniation.
COMMON CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS
Thousands of people use mass transportation every day. TriMet runs hundreds of buses across hundreds of routes every day.
With thousands of riders on a daily basis, accidents are going to happen. Many bus accidents are caused by negligence or a breach of the duty of care of the driver. These causes can include:
- Driver error of the bus driver or other driver on the road;
- Poor Vehicle maintenance, such as improperly maintained brakes
- Failure to Train the bus driver to adequately handle the bus and/or traffic conditions.
- Speeding and aggressive driving
- Driving too fast for conditions, including rain or snow.
- “Blind right turn” into another vehicle or bicycle.
- Failure to stop at a stop sign.
- Lane changes into traffic behind within the blind spot of the bus.
- Driver Fatigue and driver pressures to complete the route on time, leading to poor decision making.
- Driver Sleep Apnea, leading to driver fatigue, and a failure to ensure the bus driver is healthy enough to actually drive a bus.
- Sudden, unexpected stops, which can throw bus passengers from their seats.
AVERAGE BUS ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT AMOUNTS
Each personal injury case is different. Settlements depend on a number of variables, including the nature of injury, what medical care has been accomplished, the medical care required in the future, and the extent of liability of the bus driver or others involved in the incident.
Settlement amounts can be based on medical expenses, and can also be based upon future medical expenses and property damages. Lost earnings, including future lost earnings and future loss of ability to labor and earn, and pain, suffering, and emotional harm suffered are also important when determining the amount a claim may settle for.
In some cases, a spouse can have a claim for “loss of consortium” or loss of support of the spouse. Damages for enjoyment of life can also be awarded.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A BUS ACCIDENT INJURY
After a bus accident, you should first get to a safe place and seek emergency medical care. If you can, at the scene, gather as much information as you can, including names of other passengers, the name of the bus driver, the bus number and nearest stop, and take pictures of the scene of the incident and your injuries.
Make notes of any video cameras in the bus, including cameras pointed towards the passengers, the driver, or traffic.
If you are in pain after an accident, get to a doctor as soon as possible. You can still go to an emergency room even if you have already left the scene of the incident if you need to.
File a police report. In Oregon, you only have 72 hours (i.e. three days) to file a police report. So, time is of the essence.
Make written notes—even using the notepad on your phone—about what you remember about the incident, the bus driver, and any other passengers. Did anyone say anything at the scene of the incident? If so, write it down.
Within 180 days: you should file your Statement of Claim with TriMet. This statement contains the details of your accident and outlines the injuries and damages you sustained.
DO NOT GIVE ANY VERBAL OR RECORDED STATEMENTS TO ANYONE or speak to anyone, other than your lawyer, about your claims.
Flynn Law Firm is Here for You
If you or someone in your family was injured by a bus, contact us today for a free consultation. We can walk you through the process of asserting a claim and provide insight into whether or not you can recover. Call or text 503-303-0600, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact information below.