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Articles Posted in Bus Accident

Every day thousands of people in and around the Boston metro area rely on the Massachusetts Bay Transit Association (MBTA) for transportation. MBTA provides several public transportation options, including busses, ferries, commuter rail, and the subway. According to the American Public Transportation Service, MBTA’s commuter rail service – nicknamed the “T” –  is one of the busiest in the nation. On the average weekday, more than one million people use its subway system. Unfortunately, with such high ridership – and some serious maintenance issues – MBTA accidents are relatively common. When an injury accident is a result of negligence, the victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Common Carriers

According to MA state law, MBTA and other transportation companies are held to a higher standard of care due to their classification as “common carriers.” When this standard is violated, MBTA may be liable for resulting injuries and damages. Although some accidents occur due to the excessive speed of trains or busses, they are more likely to occur at MBTA train and subway stations due to unsafe conditions on platforms, stairs, or escalators. A Boston MBTA accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a MBTA-related accident.

Recent MBTA Accidents

In August, a female pedestrian was killed after being struck and run over by a MBTA swing-loader. The vehicle was being used in a three-month bridge project near the Central Street MBTA station. In 2016, a male pedestrian in Dorchester was hit by a MBTA bus, suffering life-threatening injuries. The victim later died. Also last year, the engine of an Orange Line MBTA train overheated, igniting some trash. Train cars quickly filled with smoke, and passengers had to break windows to escape. Fortunately, everyone survived, but three people were hospitalized.

Some of the Orange Line trains are decades old, and maintenance has been marginal at best. Sadly, the incidents above are just a few of the many MBTA-related accidents that have occurred over the last few years. Many have been fatal. So, what’s going on?

Drowning in Debt

Lack of funding and maintenance issues have plagued MBTA for years. The company is drowning in debt and has a repair backlog in the billions. “The problem we have is a problem of literally decades of disinvestment,” said former Massachusetts DOT director Jim Aloisi. But ridership only continues to grow. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a MBTA-related accident.

Types of Accidents

Accidents involving trains and subways often result in serious injuries, including head trauma, bone fractures, and internal injuries. Minor injuries, such as sprains and bruising, may also occur. In recent years, MBTA accidents have involved:

  • Trains colliding with vehicles
  • Pedestrian accidents involving trains and busses
  • Slip and fall accidents due to negligent maintenance of MBTA locations
  • Passengers falling when trains stop suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Negligent railway design
  • Lack of adequate warning signage for hazards or oncoming trains
  • Train derailment
  • Fatigued or distracted conductors and drivers
  • Hazardous cargo spills
  • Excessive speed

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According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were as many as 11,000 injury crashes and 223 fatal crashes involving buses in 2014, the most recent year on record. The agency’s Analysis Division prepares an annual report called Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts (LTBCF), which contains information about large truck and bus crashes nationwide. Read on for more information about different types of bus accidents, and your risk of being injured in one.

School Bus Accidents

An average of 14 school-age children are killed in pedestrian accidents involving school buses every year, and approximately six children die annually as passengers on school buses. As such, experts are consistently calling for the improvement of safety protocols. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, a skilled Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.

Safety Tips for School Bus Drivers

According to the National Safety Council, most school bus-related fatalities involve children between the ages of four and seven, and occur when they are walking. School bus drivers can help prevent these accidents by:

  • Never blocking a crosswalk when stopped at a red light.
  • Always yielding to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk in a school zone.
  • Always stopping for a crossing guard with a stop sign.
  • Using extra caution in or around school zones, playgrounds, and residential areas.
  • Never honking at a pedestrian.
  • Never passing another vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.

 

Public Transit Bus Accidents

Public transit buses account for more than 30 percent of annual injury accidents involving buses. Unfortunately, there are generally limits on injury claims against state and municipal agencies, including public transport companies. An experienced MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a public transport bus.

Tour bus accidents

Accidents involving tour buses are more likely to be catastrophic due to the number of miles driven and the number of passengers typically on board. Earlier this year, a tragic bus accident in Texas killed all but one passenger. Members of a Baptist church were en route when a passenger truck collided with their bus, killing 11 passengers on the bus, the bus driver, and the driver of the truck.

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

As with any type of motor vehicle accident, bus accidents can be caused by multiple factors, including speed, equipment malfunctions / defective parts, and OUI. The most common causes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Distracted driving (texting or using another hand-held device while behind the wheel)
  • Driver impairment (OUI due to alcohol or drug use)
  • Use of excessive speed
  • Aggressive driving
  • Mechanical failures
  • Tire blow-outs

What to Do After a Bus Accident?

If you’re injured in a bus accident, the first moments are crucial. As with any type of motor vehicle accident, seek medical attention if you have suffered any type of injury. It’s wise to do so even if you’re not sure, injuries can take days or weeks to appear. Take pictures of the scene, including any obvious injuries that you or any other passengers suffered. Request contact information from as many passengers as possible, so that you can contact them in the future if necessary. Continue reading

Bus accidents are far too common in Massachusetts and around the country.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, up to 15,000 people are injured and about 300 people are killed in bus accidents every year. Buses are used as public transportation in communities across the country, but also to transport about 25 million children to and from school each day. A 2006 report revealed that about 17,000 children visit the emergency department annually due to school bus-related accidents.

Where are the Seatbelts?

Despite these sobering statistics, buses – including school buses – are not held to the same safety standards as other vehicles. Many buses are not equipped with seat belts; this is dangerous and makes little sense with strict seatbelt laws across the country. In addition to the lack of seatbelts, bus roofs rarely offer adequate protection in the event of a rollover, and windows often lack necessary glazed coverings. Top-heavy buses are prone to rollovers in certain conditions. Without proper roof and window structures, the risk of the roof collapsing increases significantly. Roof collapses often result in serious injuries and death.

The Evolution of Party Buses

Party buses present an even greater risk, combining an already-risky situation with alcohol. One recent case involved a young woman who fell out an emergency exit door while the bus was in motion. Although she should have been seated, and not leaning on this particular door, the door should have had a specific lock to prevent this type of tragic accident.

Who is Responsible?

The short answer is, it depends. If the driver of another vehicle caused the accident, you can make a third-party claim with that driver’s insurance company. However, if the bus driver is at fault, the claims process will depend on who the bus driver works for. Many buses are operated by government agencies, such as school buses and city buses. If the insurance carrier for a government-operated bus company denies your claim, you have the option to file an injury claim. To do so, you will need to also file a ‘notice of claim’ with the responsible government entity. The time frame for doing this is not long, so you will want to act as quickly as possible. Continue reading

11 people are suing GPS device maker for $15 million over injuries they sustained in a 2013 Massachusetts bus collision. The plaintiffs are claiming products liability for what they contend was a defective/unsafe navigation device.

The bus, transporting more than two dozen high school students and their chaperones, was going back from Boston to Philadelphia, when the charter vehicle hit a bridge, causing its roof to collapse. 35 people were hospitalized. Student Matthew Cruz, who sustained a spinal cord injury in the bus crash, is the complaint’s lead plaintiff.

In their Boston product defect case, the plaintiffs argued that if the GPS device had been designed for commercial vehicles, the driver would have been directed to go around the bridge. They say that the packaging of the navigation device should have indicated that it was not appropriate for charter bus use.

15 Plymouth elementary school students were transported to a local hospital after being involved in a school bus accident late yesterday afternoon.

The West Elementary School bus was involved in the crash with a small sedan (which suffered serious front-end damage) around 3:45 p.m. According to witness reports, the bus tipped over slightly before tipping back to its regular balance.

One student said, “When we crashed, it was very scary. A lot of kids started to cry and there were a few injuries.”

Eight area ambulances, several other emergency crews and the superintendent of schools responded to the scene of the accident. The school bus driver and 6 of the 35 kids on board were transported to area hospitals for minor bumps and bruises. No serious injuries have been reported.

Plymouth fire officials and EMS say the driver of the sedan appeared to be uninjured and declined to be taken to the hospital for treatment.
Students who didn’t go to the hospital were sent home with their parents, but kids are a bit nervous about getting back on the bus, rightfully so. Plymouth school officials say they expect transportation will be normal on Friday. The cause of the crash still remains under investigation-it is unclear who may have caused the accident.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard yesterday, to protect motor-coach and other large bus passengers in rollover crashes. The proposal seeks to improve the structural design of large buses to ensure that passengers are better protected in the event of a deadly vehicle rollover.

In an article published by the NHTSA, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that, “The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe. I want passengers to know that when this Department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction.”

The new regulation aims to ensure that performance requirements of large coach busses meet specific and dynamic performance tests in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform and onto a hard level surface. The most crucial aspect is that the space around passengers remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain operable.

In addition, the new proposed standard would:

– Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash;
– Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and – Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
(NHTSA)

The testing procedures and performance requirements are closely modeled after the European regulations for large buses. Separately, the Department is planning on finalizing requirements, scheduled to pass this year, for stability control technologies in these types of vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration administrator Anne Ferro, “Approximately 700 million trips are taken on commercial buses each year. Raising the standard for a motor-coach’s durability, in the event of a crash, is critical to saving the lives of the passengers inside.”
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A union representing workers for the MBTA is voicing its disapproval for a new state policy prohibiting operators from carrying cell phones during their shifts.

According to an article published by the Boston Globe, the Boston Carmen’s Union ATU Local 589 stated that it was “deeply disturbed” by the new policy which was put in place following a near disastrous bus crash over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton, where the bus was left dangling over the busy highway and seven passengers were injured. The bus driver on duty was reportedly driving with a cell phone in her hand. She was terminated after pleading not guilty to respective charges.

The new policy calls for MBTA train and bus operators to be suspended for 30 days and recommended for firing if they are caught having a cell phone with them during work hours; whether the cell phone is being used or is stored away. The previous policy, which went into effect in 2009, banned operators from possessing cell phones on the job, however the punishment was much more lenient: operators caught faced a 10-day suspension from work and were recommended for firing after two violations. This new, tougher policy now matches the same policy previously put into effect for operators who are found texting or talking on a cell phone while on duty.

While many public officials have voiced their support for the new policy, MBTA workers as well as their representing union are expressing discontent, saying that not only is the punishment too harsh, but there are also times when “alternative communications are necessary for everyone’s protection, and the MBTA has not offered a resolution to that problem,” according to the Boston Globe and the Union’s website.
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It began as any other Tuesday. Students in the quiet city of Torrington, Connecticut said goodbye to their parents, grabbed their lunchboxes, and boarded their school bus. The young students were on their way to Torringford Elementary School when their day took a scary turn. Two school buses were involved in what is being called a “multicar chain-reaction” accident. Twenty-two children were taken to the hospital with minor injuries as a result of the crash; adults in other vehicles were hospitalized as well.

The accident is believed to have occurred at 3:45pm on Tuesday when a man in a pickup truck rear-ended a Jeep, which was pushed into the back of a Kindercare bus, which in turn hit a larger school bus carrying children on their way to elementary school. A Volvo in another lane was also involved in the wreck. All five vehicles sustained extensive damage, with the Jeep coming to rest precariously teetering on a metal guardrail.
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Residents in the South Shore town of Marshfield, MA voted 88 to 73 in a town meeting this week to approve a citizens petition to implement three-point seat belts on all school buses transporting children to and from school, sporting events and class trips.

The petition was created by resident Stephen Lynch out of safety concerns. Lynch, who is a father of three, discussed the stark reality of school bus accidents occurring each day-resulting in serious injuries to students and even death.

“Many of these injuries could have been prevented through seat belts,” Lynch stated in the meeting. Retrofitting buses, Lynch added, “Does not compare with the millions of dollars we spend at Town Meeting on discretionary projects that do not save lives.”

The amended petition would not take effect until 2016, when the Marshfield Public School District’s current bus contract expires. The Marshfield School Committee will also spend the next year reviewing the petition and vote, as well as negotiations with bus companies. Cost, according to Committee Chair Marti Morrison, will be a factor in deciding which bus company to contract services with. Marshfield Superintendent Scott Borstel said that it could cost up to an estimated $10,000 to retrofit buses with seat belts. Additionally, many attendees of the meeting raised the question of the sizes of seat belts and how these three-point safety systems would work for both small and large children. Once installed in buses, students will have the option to buckle up, but they will not be required to.

Currently there are six states in the U.S. that require seat belts on school buses: New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Massachusetts does not currently require the use of seat belts on school buses, but some school districts, including Wellesley and Waltham, have already outfitted buses with the life-saving device. According to Borstel, buses weighing more than 5 tons are designed to protect passengers in the event of an accident-that is why there are currently no laws in place for passenger buses that large, and why buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds are required to have seat belts.
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Eleven students and the bus driver are recovering after a violent school bus accident in Anaheim Hills, California. The crash happened as the children were being driven home from an afterschool program in the Orange Unified School District. Around 3:30 pm, the bus careened down the hill before jumping a curb and slamming into trees and a lamppost. Two children and the driver were taken to area hospitals in critical condition while nine others were treated for minor injuries.

Photos and video from the aftermath depict the chaotic scene with the severely damaged bus leaning on its side with several downed trees and debris strewn all over the street. The incident took place near the Anaheim Hills Golf Course in an affluent part of the city. According to local authorities, no other cars were involved in the accident. CBS Boston reported that the driver was trapped in the bus for hours before emergency workers were able to free him.

Jak Pintches, 14 told Boston.com the bus was making a turn when it lost control and struck a tree and a lamppost. ”I flew out of my seat and hit the other side of the bus” injuring his back, the student told the Orange County Register as he recounted the scary incident. Pintches also explained that a sharp piece of a tree punctured the metal frame and cut another female student’s leg.
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