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With the most public buses operating in North America in one of the world’s most populous and busiest cities, the risk of personal injury or wrongful death from a bus accident in New York City is a daily risk encountered by cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and passengers throughout the city. While bus accidents can cause serious injuries to drivers and riders of automobiles involved in collisions, buses pose a special danger to pedestrians and cyclists, who may be struck with catastrophic injuries including multiple fractures and internal injuries, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or even wrongful death.
Like truck accidents, many bus accidents can be attributed to the size, shape and weight of these oversized vehicles, with their more limited maneuverability, need for increased stopping distance and reaction time, and blind spots for both the bus driver and other motorists whose sight is blocked by the bus. Driver fatigue, however, remains the number one cause of bus accidents. City bus drivers may face long shifts through heavy traffic, causing mental stress and fatigue. Other operators, such as tour buses and charters taking groups on day trips from the city to out-of-state recreational destinations, find themselves behind the wheel for extended periods with no breaks.
If you are involved in an accident with a bus under the authority of one of New York’s many transit agencies, you must act quickly to file notice of a claim, or you can lose your rights to obtain compensation. See our page on Public Transit Accidents for more information.
In most places, common carriers, such as buses, owe an extraordinary duty of care to their passengers. Common carriers are often required to exercise the utmost care and diligence to avoid harm to their passengers. This was the rule in New York for a hundred years as well. However, in 1998 the State’s high court changed the standard for common carriers to one of ordinary, reasonable care. This means that buses owe the same duty to passengers as they do to others on the street, such as motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Passengers who are injured on city buses should not expect to have an easier time obtaining a recovery, but must plead and prove negligence on the part of the bus driver or bus company and surpass all the hurdles that face other plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits.
Although their duty is less than it used to be, bus owners and operators must still act with care and avoid negligence in their conduct. Buses have a duty to provide a reasonably safe place to get on or get off. This includes stopping close enough to the curb. Bus companies must also exercise ordinary care in the maintenance of their stairways and stations, including providing adequate lighting.
Safer windows and roofs, better screening and supervising of drivers, and the implementation of safety technology would all go a long way toward making buses safer for their passengers and others who share the road these vehicles. Bus companies and manufacturers may fail in their duty when they do not address these concerns. Whether due to operator error, product safety, or negligence on the part of the bus company due inadequate repair or maintenance, if you have been injured in a New York City bus accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. right away to make sure your rights to receive compensation are preserved.