West Chester Bus Accident Attorney
Bus transportation is so important here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Between them, SEPTA, TMACC, GVFTMA and PART provide public transport links across most of the region, giving locals and visitors alike the support they need as they get around. However, accidents can — and do — happen out there on the roads, and this is why West Chester bus accident lawyers provide such a vital service here in this part of Pennsylvania.
Imagine you were riding home from class at West Chester University on the SEPTA 104, and a distracted driver crashed into your bus. Or perhaps you were involved in an accident on the TMACC SCCOOT service between Oxford and Kennett Square because a driver was going the wrong way. Or it could be you were on a bus pulling out of the Chestnut Street Terminal after a visit to the Chester County History Center, and you got t-boned by a driver who was texting and driving.
If this, or something similar, has happened to you — you need Wilk Law. Call on our expert bus accident attorneys in West Chester, and get the legal support you deserve for your case.
Do Bus Accidents Occur Often in West Chester?
Most of the time your bus journey will get you from A to B with no trouble, but unfortunately, bus accidents sometimes occur. In 2022, 461 commercial buses and 274 school buses were involved in accidents in Pennsylvania. While there were no fatalities of bus occupants in any of these incidents, 307 commercial bus crashes resulted in injury, while people were hurt in 146 of the school bus crashes.
School bus crashes are actually happening more often, year on year. There were only 154 such incidents in 2020 and 219 in 2021, although this could be due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Injuries rose each year too — from 146 in 2020, to 231 in 2021, to 303 last year.
How Do These Accidents Happen?
What is actually causing these accidents? There are a number of factors which our West Chester bus accident lawyers see which contribute to bus crash incidents in and around Chester County.
In many cases, the driver was found to be at fault. But what were they doing wrong? Some key examples of driver error include:
- Driving too fast.
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front.
- Not paying proper attention to the road.
- Driving aggressively.
- Driving while tired or fatigued.
- Changing lanes or making turns without proper care.
- Ignoring stop signals.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
All road users have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. This is especially true for bus drivers, many of whom are carrying a high number of passengers onboard. If you encounter a bus driver who is acting unsafely, contact the police in urgent cases. If the situation is not urgent, reach out to the bus or coach company or to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Incomplete or Inadequate Training
It takes many hours of training to operate a bus properly. These are large, heavy vehicles, often with many people on board. Blind spots and tight turns can add to the danger, and drivers need to know how to execute maneuvers without putting themselves, their passengers, and other road users at risk.
While all West Chester bus drivers will have a standard driver’s license and a commercial driver’s license, experience also plays a part. After achieving their qualification, the driver will need additional support as they apply their skills in a real-world, real-road environment. If their training is not complete or does not hit the mark, this could result in an accident.
If there is a problem with the bus itself, or with any of the systems or components on board, this can put lives at risk.
It is the duty of the bus manufacturer, the operating company or metropolitan authority, and the drivers and technicians themselves, to make sure the bus is in full working order. Even a relatively small fault with a bus can result in a collision, an accident, and even injuries and fatalities.
Problems With the Road
A poorly maintained road can cause an accident. For the most part, we expect roads around West Chester to be of high quality, but potholes and other potential obstacles and areas of damage can result in unsafe driving conditions.
Line markings and signage can also be an issue. If a stop sign or traffic signal is missing, or if the road surface has not been properly marked, the bus and its occupants may be put at risk.
Who Is Responsible in a West Chester Bus Accident?
It’s important to establish bus accident liability — understanding precisely who is at fault following a West Chester bus accident. Our West Chester bus accident attorneys find that in many cases, the liability will rest with one or more of the following:
- The Bus Driver – The driver of the bus itself may be liable for any injuries caused.
- Another Road User – If another road user was found to have caused the accident, they might be deemed liable.
- The Bus Manufacturer – The manufacturer will have certain duties and responsibilities to fulfil and may be found liable if they have been negligent.
- The Bus Operator – The bus company needs to make sure their vehicles and drivers are roadworthy and reliable.
- A Bus Passenger – In some cases, a bus passenger may distract the driver — sometimes intentionally — causing a crash.
- A Component Supplier – If a component manufacturer provides substandard parts or systems, they may be at fault.
- A Repair Team or Technician – Regular maintenance and repair are important, and failures from repair and technical teams could result in an accident.
- Local Government Bodies – If the local government has not properly maintained the road surface or other infrastructure, this may result in liability in the event of an accident.
Types of Bus Accidents Our West Chester Law Firm Handles
Our bus accident attorneys can help if you’re injured in West Chester, or elsewhere in Pennsylvania. But which types of incidents do our lawyers typically handle? Learn more about the three main categories.
Crashes Involving City and Public Transit
There are many different city and public transit organizations operating in this region, including SEPTA, TMACC SCCOOT, TMACC Link, Bee-Line, GVFTMA, and PART. When these operators are involved in an accident, our West Chester bus accident lawyers can help.
Commercial and Charter Buses
Greyhound is perhaps the most famous commercial bus company, but Flixbus is another popular carrier around Pennsylvania. Amtrak also provides commercial bus services to supplement rail routes. Additionally, Philadelphia Charter Bus Company and Elite Coach are among the most widely used charter services in the area. If you are in an accident involving any of these companies, or another operator, a bus accident attorney can assist you in West Chester.
School buses are a common sight on roads around West Chester, taking kids to and from their places of learning. Unfortunately, there were 9,700 injuries in school bus crashes across the country in 2021, and 108 deaths — highlighting just how important the right legal support and services can be.
Understanding the Difference Between Public and Private Bus Claims in Pennsylvania
The question of public v. private legal action is an important one when we approach a bus accident case.
If you believe the fault lies with a government employee, a municipal transit authority, or another representative of the local, state or federal government, you will need to file a public claim.
You must notify the liable party within six months of the date of injury, according to Pennsylvania Section 5522 – Title 42, and the potential damages an individual can receive are limited to $250,000. A government defendant will not be liable for more than $1,000,000 of total compensation arising from one single incident.
If the liable party is a private bus company or an individual bus driver within that company, you can raise a private action.
For a private action, you’ll have two years after the date of your injury in which to file your claim, and the defendant could be liable for the full amount of the damages, with no limit.
Factors Which Affect Settlement Amounts in Bus Accident Cases
Your West Chester bus accident lawyer will always help you get the compensation you deserve following an incident, but there are factors you need to bear in mind. These factors can impact the amount of compensation you are eligible for.
The Nature and Severity of the Injury
Injuries vary in many different ways. For example, a broken wrist might be extremely painful but could heal in a few weeks with limited long-term effects. A broken vertebrae, on the other hand, could result in lasting impairment and significant changes to quality of life.
Testimonies and Evidence
You will need supporting evidence to win your case, but the nature of this evidence can impact the amount of compensation you receive too. Police reports from the incident, medical records of treatment and assessment, and eyewitness testimonies can all increase the settlement amount.
In some cases, your insurance coverage could reduce the amount you can claim for things like medical treatment expenses or lost earnings.
In Pennsylvania, a modified comparative negligence law applies — this means more than one person could be partly responsible for the injury. If you yourself are found to be partly responsible, you may be eligible for a reduced settlement.
Duty of Care
You may need to show that the defendant had a duty of care for you at the time of the incident and that this duty of care was not fulfilled. This may apply even if you are not a passenger on the bus, as the driver still has a duty of care for other road users when they operate their vehicle.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Bus Accident in West Chester?
If you are injured in a bus accident, what kind of damages can you claim? Our West Chester bus accident attorneys help our clients recoup several different types of damages.
- Medical Costs – Medical costs and expenses are perhaps the most common form of damages. You may be able to claim for any treatment, care or rehabilitation you had to pay for as a result of the accident.
- Lost Trade – If you were unable to work and earn money as a result of your injury, you may be recompensed for these lost earnings, lost wages, or lost business opportunities.
- Other Expenses – You may have experienced property damage in the accident, or you might need to make alternative arrangements — like modifications to your home or vehicle due to a disability — after the injury. This could be considered when your compensation is calculated.
- Pain and Suffering – It may be harder to place a monetary value on general pain and suffering — both physical and emotional. However, this may be factored into your claim.
- Intentional Harm – In rare cases, it may be found that the defendant intended to cause harm. This may also contribute to the total damages.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Of course, tens of millions of people use West Chester’s public transport network on a regular basis — the Bee-Line county bus service alone carries 27 million passengers a year. Most of these passengers travel without incident and get where they need to be healthy and happy. We’re here to help in those rare occasions when things go wrong in West Chester, PA.
Experienced Bus Accident Attorneys in West Chester
If you’ve been injured on a bus in Chester County, you need a West Chester bus accident lawyer on your side. But not just any professional will do — you need an experienced, committed auto accident lawyer who you can rely on to help you pursue the best outcome in your case.
Tyler J. Wilk provides this kind of reliability. The founder of Wilk Law, Tyler has a long and celebrated history of supporting clients in their struggle for justice through the legal system. He specializes in personal injury cases — something which is very close to his heart after he himself was injured by a drunk driver while studying at Widener University School of Law.
Call Wilk Law today and discover how our bus accident attorneys in West Chester can help you. In addition to West Chester our law firm also serves Coatesville, Downingtown, Philadelphia, Berwyn, Devon, Exton, Frazer, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Kennett Square, and more.