Portland Bus Accident Lawyer
Buses usually provide a safe, affordable mode of travel. Unfortunately, “usually” does not mean always, and sometimes Portland bus passengers, pedestrians, or drivers of other vehicles involved in bus accidents sustain life-changing injuries and after-effects that demand compensation.
Secure the substantial settlement you need by partnering with Strong Law. Our experienced Portland bus accident lawyers will work to get you the financial reimbursement and justice you deserve.FREE CONSULTATION
Why Choose Strong Law?
- We get results. Residents of Portland represented by Strong Law have received significant settlements after putting their cases in our attorneys’ hands. We have a 98% success record for personal injury cases.
- We give you the highest-quality representation with a human touch. We know our clients need an advocate who will fight hard for them, communicate with them, and stand by them.
- We take a modern approach to personal injury cases, using the latest developments in technology and science to investigate your case and keep communication seamless.
How Strong Law Attorneys Can Help You
Recovering from a bus accident requires physical and emotional energy. While you stay focused on that recovery, we will handle all legal filings and proceedings. Strong Law attorneys are skilled investigators and will analyze every aspect of your accident to determine the at-fault party and collect exhaustive evidence to support your claim.
Our team has experience working for insurance companies, the “other side.” That inside knowledge gives us the upper hand as we build your case and negotiate your settlement.
Steps to Take After a Bus Accident,
You may need to stay still and wait for emergency services to arrive. If you sustain injuries to your neck, head, or back or to other areas where movement might cause additional damage, stay put. If you do not think your injuries are serious, still seek prompt medical care as the effects of some damage take time to appear or can be masked by your initial shock.
If it is safe for you to move, start collecting information to support a potential claim. Take pictures of the accident scene, including road conditions, traffic signals, involved vehicles, and anything else that may have played a role in the event, as well as your injuries and damaged property. Collect contact information from witnesses. If they have photos or video, ask them to send them to you.
Then, contact Strong Law and speak with a bus accident attorney in Portland. With immediate access to your case, we can build a strong case and work toward a substantial settlement.
Securing a Settlement From a Bus Accident Is Complicated
The process for filing a claim against a privately owned bus is the same as if you were suing another driver, in terms of the statute of limitations and the general legal process. Even so, because there are different legal regulations for bus drivers, bus companies, bus inspectors, and manufacturers, determining the actual at-fault party or parties can be tricky.
If your accident involves a government-owned bus, the rules are much different. The statute of limitations for filing is much shorter than the typical two years established for most personal injury cases, there are exceptions to what you can sue for, and there may be a cap on the damages you can collect.
Do not risk losing the settlement you deserve by attempting to manage your case on your own or with inferior representation. Partner with a bus accident attorney in Portland as soon as possible following your accident. The attorneys at Strong Law will navigate any complications with the knowledge and experience required to secure the highest settlement possible.
Determining the At-Fault Party in a Bus Accident
With any motor vehicle accident, you need an attorney to investigate all elements of the incident to determine the at-fault party. Even where you think the negligent party is obvious, other factors may be at play. For bus accidents, there are even more layers, and having an experienced Portland bus accident attorney with access to relevant experts and accident reconstructionists is crucial to your case.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict driver regulations that companies must adhere to, and they must maintain a driver qualification file for all drivers they employ. The file must contain:
- The driver’s employment application
- Inquiries to previous employers regarding the driver’s record for the prior three years
- Yearly inquiries and reviews of the driver’s driving record
- Yearly driver’s certification of violations and an annual review
- The driver’s road test and accompanying certificate, or an equivalent to the road test
- Certificate from the medical examiner’s office
- If applicable, and if granted, a waiver for physical disqualification which is typically issued to a driver with a loss or impairment.
The regulations do not end with this driver qualification file. Bus operators must also comply with rules governing the number of consecutive hours or days drivers can work and how much rest they must take between shifts. Drivers must maintain an electronic log of their hours of operation.
Commercial drivers, such as passenger bus drivers, are held to a stricter standard for driving under the influence (DUI). In most states, drivers 21 years or older are considered over the legal limit when driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. For bus operators, that limit is .04%.
Federal and Oregon State School Bus Driver Requirements
The FMCSA requires school bus operators to have a commercial vehicle license, as any other bus operator must have, as well as a passenger and school bus endorsement. States impose additional regulations on drivers, with 90% requiring pre-service, entry-level training requirements. Typical requirements include:
- 20 hours of classroom instruction
- 20 hours of hands-on, behind-the-wheel instruction
- Both skill- and time-based training
- Regular in-service training
- Further training to “upgrade” a license and drive other types of school vehicles.
Portland School Bus Drivers
The Oregon Department of Education (DOE) oversees requirements for Portland and Oregon state school bus drivers. Potential drivers must fill out an application and . . .
- Undergo FBI fingerprinting and background checks
- Pass alcohol and drug screenings
- Obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
- Pass a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam
- Pass the DMV CDL Class B passenger endorsement and the Class B school bus passenger endorsement written exams
- Pass the DMV CDL Air Brake restriction exam
- Pass the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) physical, as administered by a local medical examiner’s office
- Complete 15 hours of the DOE’s “Behind-the-Wheel” training
- Apply for certification (or licensure or both)
- Pass a DMV or third-party examiner’s skills test
- Pass a DOE driving and criminal record background check.
Bus Inspection Regulations
Bus drivers and companies must comply with inspection regulations. Before operation, drivers must conduct pre-trip inspections. At the end of their shifts, they must complete and sign inspection reports covering a variety of the vehicle’s parts and accessories, noting any defects that could compromise safety or cause a mechanical breakdown.
Companies are responsible for correcting any defects before the bus is put back into service.
Buses must undergo regular inspections every year at a minimum, and companies must keep the inspection reports for 14 months. Companies must ensure inspectors are qualified and have appropriate training to carry out the inspections.
How These Regulations Affect the At-Fault Party
In accidents with private vehicles, you would generally file against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and, if necessary, against the driver’s private assets. For bus accidents, there are additional possibilities, and the attorneys at Strong Law will look carefully into each one.
If the driver operated the vehicle recklessly or while under the influence, you likely have a case against them. However, you may also have grounds to hold the bus company responsible if it did not follow through on monitoring and reporting on the driver’s performance or allowed the driver to continue working after committing prior infractions.
The Bus Company
If the bus company failed to maintain proper vehicle inspections, employed underqualified inspectors, or allowed defective buses to stay on the roads, you may have a case against that company.
If inspectors gave false qualifications and carried out inspections without undergoing proper training, or if they missed defects that a qualified inspector would have reasonably diagnosed, you may have a case against them.
School Districts or the Oregon DOE
The Oregon DOT reported 67 school bus accidents for a recent full year of data collection. If Portland or the Oregon DOE did not assure a school bus driver’s thorough training or did not ensure drivers carried out pre- and post-trip bus inspections, and these failures caused the accident, your attorney may see fit to file against these entities.
Oregon’s Shared Fault Laws Can Affect Your Claim
If you are involved in a bus accident as a passenger on the bus, you typically do not have to worry about being blamed for the accident. However, if you are the driver of another involved vehicle, Oregon’s comparative fault laws can affect settlement negotiations and your settlement amount.
Under its comparative fault system, victims of accidents can hold the at-fault party responsible for damages as long as the victim is less than 50% responsible for the incident. Even seriously injured parties who hold a higher percentage of fault cannot collect under these laws.
If you bear some fault but less than 50%, your settlement will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you are 15% at fault for the accident and the calculated settlement is $100,000, you collect 85% of that amount, or $85,000.
You Need Protection From False Accusations of Fault
Insurance companies are strategic but not always ethical. Protecting their assets, not your well-being, is their goal. Therefore, adjusters for the at-fault party will seek to hold you accountable for the accident to the greatest extent possible, sometimes even relying on dishonest means to make that happen.
Another insurance company tactic is to offer you a lowball settlement. Adjusters will contact you and either offer an inadequate settlement, telling you it is more than fair, or try to intimidate you into believing the paltry amount is the best offer you can expect to see. Do not be fooled.
In fact, do not even speak with these adjusters. The Strong Law team will take care of all communication with these adjusters and, with inside knowledge of the strategies these companies use, will anticipate and dismantle any hurtful tactics before they gain any traction, protecting your settlement.
How Much Is a Bus Accident Settlement Worth?
There is no “average” amount for a bus accident settlement. Your compensation depends on several factors, including the seriousness of your injuries and their long-term effects on your physical, financial, and emotional well-being and on the value of any property damaged in the accident.
You can trust your Portland bus accident lawyer to evaluate your case thoroughly and demand an amount adequate to cover your needs and bring you justice. In many bus accident cases, victims see coverage for:
- Medical Costs: Your attorney will review your medical bills and speak with medical experts to determine the amount of future costs based on your prognosis and course of treatment.
- Income Loss: Injuries may prevent you from returning to work either temporarily or permanently. Your attorney will calculate your lost wages due to missed days at work and your future lost earnings, factoring in retirement and other benefits.
- Emotional Trauma: If you suffer from chronic pain, diminished mobility, or other physical limitations because of your injuries, you will experience emotional consequences as well. Your sense of despair, anxiety about your future, and feelings of isolation deserve acknowledgment.
- Property Loss: Your lawyer will value personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident and include compensation for those losses in the settlement demand.
If your loved one was killed in a bus accident, the Strong Law team will pursue a wrongful death claim in the hopes of recovering end-of-life expenses, lost income, and compensation for your emotional distress and loss of affection.
“Excellent attorneys and staff!! My attorney, Peter, and his paralegal, Katrina, went ABOVE & BEYOND to get me a settlement that was even higher than my own personal bottom line. I highly recommend Strong Law for all your personal injury claims. I would not have been able to navigate this 3-year long journey without them! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”