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Legal issues in a Seattle-area bus accident

Anyone harmed in a crash involving a public or private bus should seek legal advice quickly to preserve and understand potential legal claims.

Any crash involving a bus is potentially dangerous, even deadly. Just by the sheer size and weight of a private or public transit bus or of a school bus, bus passengers, people in other vehicles, and motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians are at high risk of serious injury in an accident with a bus.

Legal and factual issues stemming from a bus collision can be very complex, so the victim of such a crash should seek legal counsel as early as possible after the incident. Early examination of the potential legal remedies will allow time to meet any legal filing deadlines and if the bus owner or operator is a public entity, a lawsuit will likely be more complicated than one against a private party.

It is also important to retain a lawyer early so that they can launch an investigation on behalf of the client. Such an investigation can cast a wide net as the accident may have been complex. Witnesses should be interviewed while memory is still sharp and there may have been many people involved. The scene of the crash will be studied and an accident reconstructionist may be retained to help understand exactly what happened and who was at fault.

The legal team must review many related items like trip logs, driver training records, maintenance and repair records, employment records, driving records, police records and others.

Bus systems are common carriers, which owe the highest duty of care toward its passengers “commensurate with the practical operation of its services at the time and place in question,” to repeat a phrase cited throughout Washington cases from Price v. Kitsap. A bus driver would also be liable for injuries of people harmed because of the bus driver’s negligent or reckless driving.

Some of the potentially responsible parties may include:

  • The bus driver
  • Drivers of other vehicles
  • The owner or operator of the bus like King County Metro Transit, a school district or a private company
  • The manufacturer of the bus or of parts or components of the bus if a faulty design or negligent manufacturing contributed to the accident
  • Maintenance companies or mechanics who performed negligent repair or substandard maintenance
  • Dangerous design of the roadway involved
  • Negligent maintenance of the roadway
  • Involved insurance companies

This article provides basic information about bus accidents – a subject that is complex. A lawyer can answer questions about a particular incident involving a bus.

The attorneys at Dubin Law Group with offices in Seattle, Everett and Belleview represent injured victims of bus accidents and surviving family members of people killed in bus crashes.