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Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Tour Bus Accident

Tour buses offer a way for visitors to experience new locales. In New York City alone, hundreds of sightseeing bus tours are offered to those curious about the sites and attractions offered in the Big Apple. Visitors can experience New York’s iconic monuments, spot the locations featured on their favorite television shows, or even indulge in onboard performances as they take in the city.

In order to replicate the comforts found at home or make room for upwards of 50 passengers, tour buses must be quite large. They can stretch to over 40 feet long, reach heights of up to 20 feet, and weigh in at an average of 25,000 pounds. If that bus is full of passengers, the average weight can shift towards 40,000 pounds. That’s a whole lot of heavy metal barreling down the road; unfortunately, accidents can and do happen.

In traffic accidents, it can be quite difficult to know who is liable and what you are entitled to if you’ve been injured. Below are answers to common questions that you may have. Read on to discover what anyone injured in a tour bus accident should know, including:

  1. Liability in a Tour Bus Accident
  2. Common Causes of Tour Bus Accidents
  3. Injuries from Tour Bus Accidents
  4. I’ve Been in a Tour Bus Accident – What Now
  5. Legal Help for Tour Bus Accident

Liability in a Tour Bus Accident

There may be multiple parties involved when a bus accident occurs, including but not limited to bus drivers, bus owners, and other drivers on the road. While you were taking in the sites, it’s unlikely that you were making a mental note of every action that your driver or those around you were taking. Accidents such as these often have many witnesses that can help to determine who was at fault for the injuries you may have sustained.

Parties that may be liable in a tour bus accident include:

Bus company: When understanding liability, the first thing to note is that tour buses fall under a category of vehicle known as a “common carrier” under federal and New York state law. Common carriers are commercial entities that transport passengers or goods according to regularly scheduled departures, routes, and set rate tables. This is important to note in personal injury cases, as common carriers are held to a specific ‘duty of care’ when driving. Duty of care, in simple terms, can be defined as a responsibility that an individual must act in a reasonable way to prevent injury, harm, or loss when operating a commercial vehicle such as a tour bus. In evaluating whether the driver of a common care operated a Tour Bus reasonably, they are held to a higher standard than an everyday driver.  If it is discovered that the driver of a tour bus failed to act in accordance with this duty of care, that violation would be considered a highly compelling piece of evidence against the driver and bus company. It is possible that if the driver was improperly trained or if the driver acted negligently, the bus company will be held liable for their actions. The bus company must also comply with their duty of care by properly maintaining the bus.

Tour company: In the case that a tour company owns its own buses, it would be held responsible in the same fashion that a bus company would. However, tour companies typically contract vehicles out from bus companies. It is the responsibility of the tour company to ensure that the bus provider they are using has a record of safe practice. If an injury occurs on a tour and it is discovered that the bus company has a history of safety violations, then the tour company can be held liable along with the owner of the bus.

Venue: On a hop-on hop-off bus tour, tourists travel via bus to several destinations around the city. These often include museums, monuments, shopping centers, and landmarks. At these locations, many hazards could arise. If you’re injured by falling construction debris, wet floors, poorly maintained structures, or other dangers, the venue could be liable for the damages you incurred.

Manufacturer: If it is revealed that a component of the bus is defective or dangerous, the manufacturer of the vehicle could be held liable. Situations where the manufacturer may be liable include brake failures, faulty restraints, electrical fires, and more. If you have experienced injuries and other damages as a result of manufacturer error, they could be held responsible.

Other parties: As much as a bus driver may adhere to their duty of care, other drivers on the road may not take the same level of caution. Other drivers could potentially cause accidents. Other passengers could also be at fault for an accident due to reckless behavior.

Common Causes of Tour Bus Accidents

Throughout New York State and New Jersey, bustling tour bus services can be seen shuttling passengers to all the wonderful sites our area has to offer. New York City is known as “the city that never sleeps” – and rightly so. At any given time, Manhattan streets can be found clogged with intense traffic, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of millions of residents and visitors. With this many people on and around the road, it’s no surprise that auto accidents are, unfortunately, common on New York streets. The New York City Police Department disclosed that in September 2022, nearly 8,500 motor vehicle collisions occurred. Of these accidents, 311 of them involved buses. While collisions are an unfortunate yet frequent result of bus-related injuries, there are many causes.

Below are some of the most common causes of tour bus accidents:

  • Operator error: Unsurprisingly, bus drivers play a major role in many bus collisions. This could be due to distracted driving, poor training, or simply bad driving habits. Sadly, many of those who drive for a living are overworked by their employers. Being denied breaks and forced to work longer hours than what is legally deemed appropriate could cause professional drivers to become fatigued and prone to mistakes.
  • Bus company negligence: As discussed previously, companies that own buses must ensure the safety of their vehicles as well as their team of drivers. Despite the many laws in place that are meant to protect passengers, some bus companies have ignored regulations that could potentially cost them money and time. This puts their employees, the public, and their passengers in harm’s way, opening the door for a lack of restraint systems, faulty parts, and untrained drivers.
  • Blind spots: Buses have large cabins and take up sizeable space across stretches of road, making them prone to blind spots. While this could be a danger for the average driver, bus drivers are trained professionals that should be prepared to overcome potential blind spots with the use of the vehicle’s specially designed mirrors. With these tools and their training, any bus driver should be conscious of blind spots and able to manage them safely.
  • Bus fires: One of the most harrowing dangers of tour buses is the potential for deadly fires. Most bus fires are engine compartment fires, caused by owner negligence. Regular maintenance of the engine prevents grease and oil from covering it, which ignites easily if subjected to high temperatures. Fires can also be caused by tires, specifically under-inflated tires that can ignite when friction builds.
  • Other drivers on the road: As always, a collision could be caused by another party sharing the road with the tour bus for a number of reasons.
  • Poor weather conditions: Occasionally, poor weather conditions such as heavy precipitation or icy roads can contribute to the likelihood of collisions. However, bus drivers should be prepared to handle inclement weather and tour companies must prioritize the safety of their customers, postponing tours if dangerous road conditions are forecasted.

Injuries from Tour Bus Accidents

Bus tours should be exciting, fun, and educational. When you board a tour bus, you expect to leave with memories. You don’t expect to leave with an injury. Sadly, this has been the case for many unsuspecting passengers and pedestrians.

Common injuries that may result from tour bus accidents include, but are not limited to:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Sprained and torn ligaments
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of limbs
  • Full-body or partial paralysis
  • Damage to internal organs by crushing, piercing, or otherwise
  • Severe burns
  • Psychological distress
  • Death due to injury

The last thing that a family expects to experience on vacation is injury or loss of life. Injury could cause victims to take medical leave from work, or even lose their career. The financial burden of missed work and overwhelming medical bills can easily bring even the strongest of people to a state of depression or anxiety. Any automotive collision has the potential to be traumatizing, both physically and psychologically. Post-traumatic stress disorder is likely to develop after experiencing a distressing accident, which could become debilitating. Relationships with family, friends, and partners could be strained or end due to the burden of overcoming physical injury and emotional turmoil.

All of these damages can potentially be incurred in the aftermath of a tour bus accident. The party liable for these changes in your life can be held responsible for what you have lost. The experienced tour bus accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are prepared to fight in your defense and bring those responsible to justice.

I’ve Been in a Tour Bus Accident – What Now?

After any accident, safety should be of utmost concern. After you have made sure that the incident is over and danger has subsided,

  • Consider Calling 911: Immediately call the police and seek medical attention if you are injured. It is worth noting that even if you aren’t hurting immediately following an accident, you could be later – many injuries, especially spinal injuries, may not produce immediate pain. At the hospital or doctor, report any feelings of pain or discomfort you are experiencing and follow any sound medical advice given to you.
  • File a Police Report: Be sure to speak with a law enforcement officer, who will likely ask you for your account of the accident. Provide as much detail as possible. This is your opportunity to provide the truth about your experience, making sure your account of the accident is properly recorded in a timely fashion. All parties, including drivers, passengers, and witnesses, are encouraged to share their
  • Seek Legal Counsel: Tour bus accidents can alter your life forever. You deserve to receive compensation for any medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering that you have experienced or may experience. If you or a loved one have been impacted by a tour bus accident, you should consider contacting an experienced attorney to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible.

Note that you don’t need to be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident to take action against liable parties for a tour bus accident. Our attorneys recovered $5 million for the family of a woman from England who died after she was struck by a garbage truck in New York City.

Legal Help for Tour Bus Accidents

If you or a loved one has suffered in the aftermath of a tour bus crash, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries and other damages. If you’re ready to restore your quality of life and receive justice, contact one of the dedicated bus accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy. For the past decade, our firm has achieved more results exceeding $1 million than any other law firm in New York.

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To speak with an attorney today, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form. We serve New York and New Jersey.

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