Oklahoma City Bus Accident Lawyer

Buses are a convenient, cost-effective mode of transportation for thousands of commuters, students, and senior citizens throughout Oklahoma City and the rest of the state.  However, while most passengers will reach their destination without incident, serious accidents can occur when drivers are fatigued, distracted, intoxicated, or simply fail to obey traffic laws.  Accidents can also be caused by vehicle defects, or even defects in the road itself.

If you or your child was injured while riding a school bus to class, an public transportation EMBARK bus, or any other type of bus in the Oklahoma City area, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries, including your medical bills, wages you lost, your pain and suffering, and other hardships.  With more than 75 years of combined experience representing injury victims in Oklahoma, the knowledgeable attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook can help.  We take an aggressive approach to every case we handle, and are committing to fighting for maximum compensation on behalf of every client we serve.

To set up a free legal consultation with Hasbrook & Hasbrook, call our law offices at (405) 698-3040 right away.  We will keep your information confidential.

My Child Was Hurt in a School Bus Crash, Who is Liable?

When a student is injured while riding a bus to or from elementary school, middle school, or high school, there are several parties who may be liable depending on how and why the accident occurred.  In addition to the bus driver him- or herself, parties including the bus company and/or school district may also assume liability for injuries resulting from negligence, meaning a failure to follow normal precautions and protocols to reduce the risk of foreseeable injury or death to passengers.

Negligence, which is a key point of any personal injury matter, can take many different forms.  Some examples include:

  • Driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
  • Driving while distracted – often by text messages, food, or cosmetics.
  • Driving while intoxicated by alcohol and/or controlled substances.
  • Excessive speeding well above the posted speed limit.
  • Failure to make timely and adequate repairs to defective bus components or road defects, such as potholes or faded/missing signage.
  • Failure to regularly inspect the fleet of buses for defects.
  • Failure to screen bus drivers with adequate background checks.
  • Failure to stop at a red light or stop sign.
  • Failure to yield for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way to other drivers.

Our attorneys will carefully investigate every last detail of the events leading up to the accident in order to determine whether negligence played a role in the accident which injured your son or daughter.  As “common carriers,” school buses are held to exceptionally rigorous care standards when it comes to passenger safety.  Moreover, state laws prevent common carriers from using liability waivers or other means to exempt themselves from “liability for the gross negligence, fraud or willful wrong” of themselves or their employees.

Claims against public entities are subject to special, complex legal rules and shortened deadlines.  If your child was injured on the bus to school, it is critical that you contact our law offices as soon as possible for assistance.

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Transit and School Bus Accident Statistics: Occupants, Cyclists, and Pedestrians

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a Department of Transportation agency tasked with researching and improving road safety in the United States.  The NHTSA tracks automotive accidents and their causes and contributing factors, including passenger bus and school bus accidents.  The following facts are all sourced from NHTSA bus accident reports.

  • Close to 1 million buses are registered throughout the U.S.
  • There were about 18,000 injury bus crashes in 2013, injuring 38,000 people (117 injury crashes per 100 million miles traveled).
  • There were 280 fatal crashes the same year, causing 310 fatalities. Only 48 of these fatalities (15.5%) were bus occupants, with the vast majority (84.5%) instead involving pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists who were struck in collisions with buses.
  • Among the 48 bus occupant fatalities reported in 2013:
    • 17 involved cross-country intercity buses
    • 11 involved school buses
    • 11 involved van-based buses
    • 2 involved transit buses
  • Most fatal bus crashes (87%) involved:
    • School buses (41% of fatal crashes)
    • Transit buses (33% of fatal crashes)
    • Intercity buses (13% of fatal crashes)
  • About one third of the bus drivers involved in fatal crashes were at least 66 years old. At the opposite end of the age spectrum, about 8% were 25 years old or younger.
  • There were 1,222 school bus accidents from 2003 to 2012.
  • A total of 1,353 people were killed in school bus crashes during the same time period, with about 135 deaths per year on average.
  • Only about 8% of reported school bus fatalities were bus occupants. Most fatalities — nearly three quarters — involved cyclists, pedestrians, and the drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
  • In both single- and multi-vehicle school bus crashes, fatality numbers were highest by a wide margin when the bus was struck near the front of the vehicle. No fatalities were reported when the top/roof of the bus was the point of damage.
  • School bus accidents occurring between 3:00 and 4:00 P.M. had the highest numbers of fatalities (91), followed by crashes occurring from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M. (77). At both times of day, pedestrians and other vehicle occupants had higher death rates than bus occupants.
  • Among occupants and especially pedestrians, people in the 19-plus age range were more likely to be killed than younger people.
  • The most common driving maneuvers leading up to fatal school bus crashes were:
    1. Going straight — 63 crashes
    2. Starting in a traffic lane — 17 crashes
    3. Turning left — 10 crashes
    4. Turning right — 7 crashes
    5. Overtaking/passing other vehicles — 6 crashes
    6. Turning around a curve — 6 crashes
    7. Parking or leaving a parked position — 5 crashes
  • Annual school bus fatality numbers have remained fairly consistent over the past decade, with few notable or lasting improvements. There were 140 fatalities in 2003, 142 in 2007, 130 in 2010, and 131 in 2012.

Common Passenger Injuries in Crashes and Collisions

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Regardless of what causes them or what sort of conditions they occur under, all bus accidents are capable of inflicting debilitating or fatal injuries.  While high speeds increase the risk of catastrophic injury, even minor accidents can result in painful, disabling wounds and complications.  If you or your child suffered from any of these serious injuries or complications after a bus collision, you could be entitled to compensation:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) — Physical trauma to the neck or back can damage the spinal cord, a bundle of nerve fibers which links the brain to the body, enabling movement and sensation. The portion of the spinal cord housed in the neck is called the “cervical” spine, while the back contains the “thoracic” and “lumbar” portions of the spine.  The higher along the spine an injury occurs, the greater the scope and severity of the resulting impairment.  SCI can cause:
    • Paralysis
    • Incontinence
    • Sexual Dysfunction
    • Chronic Pain
    • Muscle Spasms
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of TBI, accounting for more than 14% of TBI cases from 2006 to 2010. TBI can cause severe cognitive impairment that makes employment and full independence impossible, creating problems with basic mental functions like communication, focus, learning, logic, and memory.
  • Broken Bones — Bone fractures are extremely common in automotive accidents, especially in children and elderly victims. While some fractures will heal with minimal treatment, others require extensive surgical repair.  If childhood bone fractures damage growth plates, growth of the affected limb may be permanently stunted.
  • Burn Injuries — Hot debris, melted plastic, flaming gasoline, and caustic substances like battery acid can cause burns or chemical burns. Severe burns are extremely painful to recover from, often require skin graft surgery, and tend to cause extensive disfigurement in the affected area.  This can cause extreme depression and emotional distress, especially in children, who might be bullied or excluded by their peers.

How Much Compensation Can Oklahoma Injury Victims Get?

Depending on the nature of an accident and its consequences, the victim may be entitled to various “damages” or forms of compensation, including:

  • Compensatory Damages — Compensatory damages compensate the victim for his or her costs and losses, such as the bill for a surgical procedure.
  • Punitive Damages — Punitive damages may be awarded as a punishment/deterrent in cases where the defendant engaged in exceptionally unacceptable and dangerous behavior.
  • Economic Damages — Economic damages encompass calculable financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Medical costs include surgery, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, physical rehabilitation, prescription medications, doctor’s appointments, necessary in-home care, ambulance rides, and more.
  • Non-Economic Damages — Non-economic damages encompass non-calculable, non-financial losses, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, the loss of enjoyment of life, and the loss of a marital relationship (“loss of consortium”).

Oklahoma law generally caps non-economic damages at $350,000.  However, there are certain situations under which these limits do not apply.  For example, the cap may be lifted if the plaintiff is able to demonstrate that the actions of the defendant were either fraudulent, malicious/intentional, grossly negligent, or undertaken with reckless disregard for the health and safety of others.  Economic damages, such as hospital bills and income losses, are not capped in Oklahoma.

If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was hit by a bus or was injured in a bus accident, call the attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 to learn about your options for getting compensated in a free and private legal consultation.  We handle cases in Oklahoma City and throughout the surrounding area, including Edmond, Norman, and Moore.