Bus Accidents


Bus Accidents

When a bus hits a pedestrian or another vehicle, the injuries can be devastating. Due to their great size and mass, buses are unable to stop, swerve, or otherwise avoid collisions or road hazards as quickly as smaller vehicles. In addition, due to their high profile, it is more difficult for a bus to see pedestrians and other vehicles caught in their blind spots. Therefore, it is especially important for motorists and pedestrians to be extra cautious when approaching or passing a bus. Moreover, because buses make frequent stops, motorists should always maintain a safe distance behind a bus to avoid a rear ending accident.

In many instances, bus accidents are the result of aggressive drivers who tailgate or follow a bus too closely, or who attempt to pass a bus as it is changing lanes. In some cases however, the bus or bus company may be responsible for the accident. The bus company (or the city or county in the case of public buses) may be held liable for a bus accident if it can be shown that their negligent, careless or reckless behavior caused the accident. For example, a bus company, city, or county may be found liable for a bus accident if the bus was sent out with poor brakes, bad tires, or some other type of faulty or defective mechanical condition. The bus company, city or county may also be found liable if it can be shown that they contributed to an accident by hiring an unqualified driver, by failing to provide adequate training or supervision, or by failing to follow safety procedures. In some cases, the city or county may be liable for bus accidents that occur as the result of an unsafe or defective road.

Common types of Buses

Buses are defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as any motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine or more persons, including the driver.

  • Public Transit Buses – these are typically local government run buses that transport passengers across a city or county at minimal cost. They travel along regular routes and according to a specific timetable. They make up the majority of buses on U.S. roads. Many passengers rely on public transit for their daily commute. Public transit buses typically travel long distances and run for long periods of time which makes proper maintenance important for safety. If a public transit bus is involved in an accident the government entity running the bus may be sued and held liable if it can be shown that the driver or a problem with the vehicle caused or contributed to the accident. 
  • Private Coach or Charter Buses - these include buses that are typically used for driving long distances and are designed to provide greater luxury, space, and comfort than public transit buses. An example of a large, national, privately-run bus is Greyhound which connects cities all over the country. However there are many smaller bus companies that may consist of just one or a few buses. Private buses also include private shuttles, party buses, and tour buses. Some private buses are used to transport passengers to special events or destinations such as concerts or casinos. Unlike public buses, smaller private bus companies have more limited insurance policies. Furthermore, depending on the company they may not maintain their buses or screen their drivers as vigorously as public buses.  
  • School buses – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every year, the nation's 450,000 public school buses travel more than 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to and from school and school-related activities. They are also considered one of the safest forms of transportation – students are nearly eight times safer riding in a school bus than in cars. School buses are among the most regulated vehicles on the road. Although accident injuries and deaths are extremely rare, they do happen. Over the past 11 years, school buses annually have averaged about 26,000 crashes resulting in 10 deaths.  
  • Shuttle Buses – these are smaller buses, which may be private or public. Examples are airport or hotel shuttle buses.  Because of their smaller size and shape, shuttle buses are much more likely to be involved in injury accidents.
  • Passenger Vans – these are large vans typically designed to carry 10, 12, or 15 passengers. They are typically used by smaller organizations such as schools, daycare, churches, sport teams, and senior citizen organizations. Their design makes them especially prone to rollover accidents, especially when fully loaded. According to NHTSA statistics, between 2003 and 2007 there were 473 fatalities involving 15-passenger vans, and 56% of those fatalities involved rollover accidents.
  • Freight Buses – these buses are designed to transport primarily cargo, although they may also carry some passengers. In many respects they are like large trucks and face many of the same issues – they carry heavy loads making it difficult to maneuver and stop.

National Bus Accident Statistics

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2017:

  • There were 983,231 registered buses in the U.S.
  • Approximately 15,000 buses were involved in injury crashes.
  • Approximately 25,000 persons were injured in bus crashes.
  • 274 persons died in bus accidents. 
    • 79 of the fatalities involved school buses
    • 20 of the fatalities involved inter-city coach buses
    • 104 of the fatalities involved public transit buses
    • 54 of the fatalities involved van-type buses

Bus Accidents in Southern California

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) operates the second largest public bus system in the United States.  There are an average of 1.1 million bus boardings daily at 18,500 stops on 183 routes, which include a dedicated busway, two freeway bus transitways and the largest Bus Rapid Transit system in the nation. Given the lack of an extensive metro or light rail system, buses are by far the most widely used form of public transportation in Los Angeles County. Given the huge number of buses operating each day in Los Angeles, accidents involving buses are an unfortunate part of life in LA.

Some of the deadliest bus crashes have occurred on California roads:

  • In October 2016 a casino tour bus crashed near Palm Springs killing 13 people and injuring 31.
  • In 2014, 10 people were killed near Orlandwhen a FedEx truck crashed into a bus carrying high school students from Los Angeles.
  • In 1976, a bus carrying Yuba City high school students plunged off a freeway ramp in Martinez and crashed more than 30 feet below, killing 28 students and one teacher.


One serious psychological consequence often associated with truck accidents is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To read more about this, please click here.

How We Can Help

Bus cases are complex and determining who is responsible requires careful scientific, forensic, medical and legal analysis of numerous factors and pieces of evidence – for example: the conduct and physical and mental state of the driver; the design and mechanical condition of the bus; the design and condition of the road; and the actions of other parties involved in the accident. Our attorneys have extensive experience and the resources to handle bus accident cases and obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one were injured in a bus accident, please contact us for a free, confidential, and no-obligation review of your potential legal claim and see how we can help!

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