Filing a Claim After a Bus Accident in Oregon

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Oct 16, 2017 in Auto Accident

Oregon is a beautiful place to live, work, and play. We have scenic mountains and lakes, modern cities, and a strong economy. Oregon citizens are thriving, but there’s a downside. As more people discover what’s good about living in our state, our roads become increasingly congested, leading to more traffic accidents and injuries.

Transportation data giant INRIX lists Portland as a traffic hotspot. It’s thirteenth on their list of America’s most congested cities. Oregon Department of Transportation statistics connect the rise in traffic to a parallel increase in crashes. Public transportation makes a difference, but tragic bus accidents continue to contribute to the city’s accident injury statistics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts publication demonstrates that all types of buses are involved in fatal accidents. The fatal crashes documented in the 2016 data year involved 86 school buses, 16 cross country buses, 93 transit buses, and 30 vans and unknown bus types. Ten years of data published in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts 2018 reveals additional startling facts:

  • More school-age pedestrians die in accidents from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.—when walking to and from school—than any other hours in the day.
  • 35 percent of children killed in school transportation accidents were ages eight to 13.
  • Of the child fatalities caused by bus crashes, 58 occupied school-transportation vehicles, while 116 were in other vehicles.

Recent Oregon statistics show 162 school bus crashes and 10 fatal non-school bus accidents. At the Richard Rizk Law Office, we believe that even a single bus crash is unacceptable. We are passionate about helping injured people. That’s why we fight so hard to protect bus accident victims’ rights. If you or your child was injured in a bus accident, contact us today at (503) 245-5677 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation

Our Law Firm’s Results

At the Richard Rizk Law Office, we believe in helping everyday people, every day. We’re aggressive with commercial entities and insurance companies and we negotiate fair settlements for our clients. If we can’t reach an agreement, we have no problem presenting a case in a trial before a judge and jury. We can’t promise a specific outcome, but we’ve won millions of dollars for our clients because we’ve devoted our time and resources to get the best results possible.

Bus Accidents Can Cause Many Injuries

Bus accidents happen infrequently, but when they do, they often injure Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens. In collisions with buses, private passenger vehicle occupants, bicycle riders, and pedestrians have minimal chances of walking away unscathed. The 10-year NHTSA data shows that 70 percent of fatal bus crash victims were in another vehicle, 20 percent were pedestrians, and 9 percent were riding bicycles. A bus’s size sometimes protects its occupants from catastrophic injuries and death, but because they often wear no seatbelts or other passenger restraint systems, serious bus passenger injuries and fatalities still occur.

Size is a critical factor when a large bus strikes a much smaller vehicle. Bus weight varies by type—they can reach 10,000 pounds and more. In an accident, the impact is comparable to a tractor-trailer crash.

Serious and catastrophic injuries from bus crashes vary, but often include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Back injuries
  • Severe soft tissue tears and strains
  • Shattered or fractured bones
  • Neck injuries
  • Internal damage
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Severe burns

Who Can Contribute to a Bus Accident?

When a bus accident occurs, the person behind the wheel is just one of the parties who may bear responsibility. A long list of people and entities is involved in getting a bus on the road.

  • Driver: A bus driver may face liability because of negligent actions on the road. Driver negligence often includes distracted driving, driving under the influence, and reckless operation. A driver is also responsible for safely loading and unloading the vehicle, driving unimpaired by drugs or alcohol, avoiding driving while sick or injured, and maintaining and documenting a safe driving schedule.
  • Employer: A school system or an independent transportation company may employ a bus driver. Employers bear responsibility for a driver’s actions in the course of the driver’s employment.
  • Bus inspectors: Bus inspectors may share responsibility for a bus accident when they miss a dangerous condition during an inspection. State School bus inspectors must ensure school buses meet Oregon 581-053-0240, Minimum Standards for School Buses. Oregon DOT inspectors must make sure commercial buses comply with federal Title 49 Transportation:396.3, inspection, repair, and maintenance standards.
  • Bus owner: If a school or transportation company leases a bus, the owner may share liability for accidents caused by maintenance issues or defects.
  • Maintenance contractor: A maintenance contractor who cares for a bus or a fleet may face responsibility for accidents and injuries resulting from maintenance errors and omissions.
  • Bus manufacturer: A manufacturer may face liability when a bus or defect causes an accident.
  • Other contractors: A person or entity who agrees to accept liability via a contractual hold harmless or indemnification agreement may face responsibility for an accident or injuries.

What Damages Can Bus Accident Victims Recover?

Injured people recover damages based on two broad categories: economic damages and general damages. An Oregon judge or jury may also award punitive damages if clear and convincing evidence proves malice, outrageous indifference, or conscious indifference.

Economic damages include items calculable based on their dollar values. These include current and projected future losses.

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Medications
  • Prosthetics and mobility devices
  • Physical therapy
  • Transportation costs to medical care
  • Necessary household and personal services

General damages are more complicated because they require evaluating an injured client’s feelings and emotions concerning injuries and disabilities. Our law firm typically includes these and other elements when evaluating a client’s general damages.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional issues
  • Changes to a spousal relationship
  • Child care issues
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Permanent disabilities

Responsible Parties Will Fight Liability

Defendants and their insurance carriers try to negotiate low settlements and minimize their liability when they can. Early in the process, they may attempt to offer a lowball settlement in exchange for waivers of liability.

When we take an accident case to trial, the defendants and their insurance company’s defense attorneys often cite a variety of so-called “affirmative defenses”:

  • No negligence: The driver and other responsible parties refuse to acknowledge fault.
  • Comparative negligence: The Oregon comparative negligence statute bars an injured person from recovering damages if their actions show 51 percent or greater negligence. If an injured person is 50 percent at fault or less, a judge or jury applies their negligence percentage to their settlement.
  • No defect: When a tire, brake, or other manufacturing defect contributes to an accident, the manufacturer often defends its interests by denying a malfunction or defect.
  • Sovereign immunity: Governmental entities, school districts, or state inspectors may seek immunity or damage limitations under the Oregon Tort Claims Act.
  • Damage dispute: Responsible parties who can’t dispute liability often deny that they caused some or all of an injured person’s damages.

At the Richard Rizk Law Office, we’ve heard these allegations and defenses many times—and we’re prepared to fight against them when they arise.

Call Our Portland Bus Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Our firm offers a free consultation to discuss your case and determine if we can help you. In appropriate cases, our law firm agrees to handle our clients’ bus accident cases on a contingency basis in which we receive no fees unless we recover compensation on the clients’ behalf.

If you or your family were seriously injured in a bus accident, the injuries and disabilities may leave lifelong effects on everything you do. The Richard Rizk Law Office has helped many injured victims recover the compensation they needed to recover and move on with their lives. Call us at 503.245.5677 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.