Court Radio: What You Need to Know About Bus Accidents and Bus Safety
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on May 11th, 2012
Bus accidents have been on the rise, from school bus crashes to tour bus disasters to city bus incidents that have left passengers and people in other vehicles badly injured or killed.
On “Court Radio” at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the topic of bus accidents and what you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones will be featured with our special guest, attorney Mandeep Singh Chhabra. Chhabra will join MyPhillyLawyer managing partner Dean Weitzman and his co-host David Rapoport on Court Radio to explain your rights in such accidents and how you can better protect the interests of your family.
Court Radio is broadcast live at 7 a.m. every Sunday morning on Philadelphia’s WRNB 100.3 FM, with a simulcast on Magic 95.9 FM in Baltimore. You can also listen live on the Internet at WRNB 100.3 or on Magic 95.9 via streaming audio.
Just this week a spate of bus accidents has been in the headlines across the U.S.
Seventeen people were hurt when a Metrobus collided with a car early this morning in Washington, D.C., according to a report from WTOP FM 103.5 radio.
In another incident, a bicyclist was struck and killed by a school bus in Arlington, Fla., near Jacksonville, according to WOKV.com News.
Even the tour bus for the singer, Bucky Covington, was in a crash with a Goodwill truck in Birmingham, Ala.
In February, an 11-year-old girl was killed and her two sisters were critically injured in a school bus accident in New Jersey when the bus was struck by a dump truck just south of Trenton.
Even more serious tour bus accidents have been in the news often in the last few years.
Last March, two people were killed when a privately owned tour bus crashed into a guardrail and a concrete embankment on the New Jersey Turnpike and veered into a drainage ditch on the side of the highway, according to a story in The Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, N.J. Forty other passengers were injured on the bus, which was heading to Philadelphia from Chinatown in New York. MyPhillyLawyer is representing two passengers on this bus. The tour bus company involved in this crash has one of the worst driver safety records in the bus industry, according to a story in The Star-Ledger.
And last August, another tour bus struck the rear of a tractor-trailer rig that had run into the rear of another truck on a traffic-snarled, southbound section of the New Jersey Turnpike, The Star-Ledger reported. The driver of the bus died several days after the crash due to critical injuries, while at least 16 other people were injured.
In another incident last June, four bus passengers died in Virginia when the discount tour bus they were traveling on swerved off Interstate 95 about 30 miles north of Richmond and overturned, according to an Associated Press story on NJ.com. That bus company, Sky Express Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., was shut down indefinitely by the U.S. Department of Transportation in May, according to CBS 3 New York.
The worst tour bus crash last year in the U.S. also occurred last March when 14 passengers were killed and 19 others were injured when a Manhattan-bound bus overturned on a Bronx highway, according to a story in The New York Times. The passengers on the bus were returning to New York’s Chinatown after a night of gambling in a Connecticut casino.
MyPhillyLawyer recently settled a bus accident case for $175,000 for a client who was seriously injured when a school bus driver crashed into her car as the bus made a left turn. Upon investigation by MyPhillyLawyer, the bus driver had failed some of his training by the bus company but was still out on the roads.
In another case involving a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia, an elderly man was killed when he was thrown on his head as he stood riding inside a bus that stopped quickly as it tried to avoid a crash with another vehicle.
So what do you do if you are in an accident as a passenger on a bus or if your vehicle is struck by a bus? How can people protect their rights?
One thing that depends is what the laws are in the state where the accident occurs, said Chhabra, an attorney with the Annapolis, Md., law firm of Cochran, Cochran & Chhabra. Laws for such cases are different in Pennsylvania and Maryland, he said.
“A lot of buses in Maryland are state-owned or owned by local governments,” which subjects such cases to special rules regarding lawsuits, he said. “There’s a notice requirement that has to be given to the state” to notify the government if you are intending to sue after an incident involving a vehicle operated by the state. “The regular statute of limitations [of three years] doesn’t apply.”
The notice requirements are very stringent, he said, and can be as short as six months. A plaintiff injured in a crash with a state-operated vehicle still has a three year statute of limitations in which to file a lawsuit, but the notice requirement means you also have to inform the state that a lawsuit will be filed or you lose your ability to sue, Chhabra explained.
Chhabra earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University.
Be sure to tune in for Court Radio at 7 a.m. Sunday to hear more about bus accidents and your rights with co-hosts Dean Weitzman and David Rapoport and their guest, Mandeep Singh Chhabra. And remember to call in with your own questions and comments.
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