If you want to save money and reduce your impact on the environment, taking the bus is an excellent way to do so. But while buses tend to be relatively safe, bus crashes can have devastating results. As passengers, we can’t guarantee that a bus driver or other vehicles on the road will operate their vehicles responsibly. However, we can take preventative action to reduce the risk of our own actions causing an accident.
Precautions to take on a bus
- Do not distract the bus driver. Don’t yell or cause a commotion. Attempt to deal with rowdy passengers quietly, or calmly inform the driver of the incident. Do not bring distracting items onto the bus, and hold onto your possessions tightly to make sure that they don’t fall or roll forward.
- Whenever possible, get a seat on the bus. The safest seat is a middle aisle seat opposite the side of oncoming traffic. The front and back of the bus are vulnerable in a head-on or rear-end collision. If there are no available seats, brace yourself by hanging onto a strap, pole, or handrail. Keep all body parts and objects inside the bus at all times.
- Be careful while getting on and off the bus. Make sure the bus has come to a complete stop in a safe location away from traffic, and always use the handrail. When exiting the bus, move quickly out of the way and check that your bags and other personal belongings don’t get caught on the door or railing. If it does get stuck and the bus starts moving, let go of the bag.
- Report unsafe bus drivers. Reckless behavior can range from using a phone while driving to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What to do if there’s a bus accident
Bus accidents typically have more severe consequences than car accidents. There are more victims, more parties at fault, and more injuries because of the absence of airbags and seat belts. Because of this, you will want to contact an experienced attorney to help you maximize your claim. Most personal injury attorneys will not charge you anything, rather, they will take their pay from a percentage of anything they make on your behalf. If an accident does occur, here are some steps to take.
- Get immediate medical attention. If the bus driver is injured or refuses to contact emergency services, you should call 911. This will also ensure that a police report is filed to document the details of the accident.
- Gather information and document the scene. Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses of everyone involved, including the driver, other passengers, drivers from other involved vehicles, and any witnesses present. Once law enforcement arrives, ask for the officer’s name and business card. Your attorney may need to contact these people to investigate the accident claim. Take photographs of the scene from different angles. However, do not waive medical treatment just to document the scene.
- Consult a physician. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, it’s important to be seen as the shock of an accident can delay symptoms of some injuries. As soon as possible, get tested for back, spine, and head injuries. These may not show symptoms until weeks later, when it may be too late to preserve your rights. The bus company will usually absorb the expense of your medical visit, whether you file a lawsuit or not.
- Hire an attorney. Bus companies usually have comprehensive insurance that covers all passengers involved in accidents. They may use a single pool of money to cover all injuries and damages, thereby reducing the amount of coverage that each individual receives. An experienced personal attorney will understand the special laws and requirements related to such insurance and can assist you with exploiting any loopholes, especially if the insurance company has made mistakes or acted in bad faith.
Bus accidents are highly complex. Ensuring that you and your fellow passengers behave responsibly will significantly reduce the risk, while documenting the scene and taking appropriate subsequent medical and legal steps will ensure that you are protected financially. As long as you remember the steps listed, you’ll be ready to take the right actions in the event of an accident.