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Whilst bus and coach travel are a very safe form of public transport, accidents involving buses and coaches are very common in the UK.
With bad weather, congested roads and routes getting ever busier during rush hour traffic, the risk of an accident involving a bus or coach is becoming more and more of a reality with each passing day.
What are the different types of bus and coach accidents?
Pedestrians are quite vulnerable to being hit by a bus or coach. With passengers getting on and off the bus, pedestrians perhaps trying to cross the road in front or behind them or standing at the roadside, waiting for a bus to pull into the stop, there is a risk of being hit and injured.
Buses and coaches will often need to pull into the side of the road to collect passengers. This means that they need to pull out and potentially merge back into a line of traffic. Some car drivers are reluctant to allow buses and coaches to pull back out as they don’t want to get stuck behind a large, slow-moving vehicle.
These conditions can place a heightened risk on bus and coach drivers, and they need to maintain a high level of concentration at all times to try and anticipate what other road users are likely to do. Buses and coaches are also very large vehicles and require more room to proceed.
For example, lane discipline on a roundabout can often be hampered due to the size of the vehicle, or when emerging from a junction, a bus or coach driver may need to take a wide turning circle.
Buses and coaches transport passengers from their pickup point or bus stop to their destination. There is a duty of care on the driver of the bus or coach, and indeed on the drivers of other motor vehicles to ensure the safety of those passengers travelling on the bus or coach.
That said, lapses of concentration can occur, and accidents will always happen. With roads being extremely congested nowadays, it is inevitable that buses and coaches will come into contact with cars or hit stationary objects from time to time.
This could be caused by a malfunction with the mechanism, or by the driver of the bus of coach failing in their duty of case and closing the door before it is safe to do so.
As we have discussed earlier on this page, bus and coach drivers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their passengers. Inevitably, getting on and off the bus, and navigating to and from a seat is the time when a passenger is going to be most at risk.
Sometimes, bus and coach drivers drive too fast for the road conditions or drive erratically. This can sometimes cause a passenger who is walking to and from a seat to fall. On some occasions, it may cause a passenger to fall off their seat.
I have been involved in an accident whilst a passenger on a bus/coach. What do I do?
Ensure to take as much information about the bus and the accident as you can. We would recommend that you make a note of the following information: –
Do I need to keep the bus ticket/receipt?
If you have a ticket, we would recommend that you retain it. This will help to prove that you were on the bus when the incident occurred.
If you were travelling on a bus or coach on a weekly or monthly pass, then you should be able to provide evidence of your purchase using a mobile app.
Most buses and coaches have CCTV nowadays. In order to prove your involvement in the accident and presence on the bus, it is beneficial to submit the claim early (so that the CCTV remains available), and provide photographic ID, which will act as evidence to cross-reference with the CCTV to prove that you were an occupant on the vehicle.
Who will the claim be made against?
Whilst the accident may have been caused because the bus driver had failed to keep a proper look out and/or driven too fast, the claim will be pursued against the insurers of the bus or Bus Company. It will not be pursued directly against the driver.
If no impact took place with another vehicle or object and I was injured as a passenger, is it hard to make a successful claim?
Whilst a bus passenger has a duty to ensure that they use the bus or coach appropriately, complying with any safety notices that can be seen on the vehicle, there are occasions where the driver of the bus or coach has failed in their duty of care.
It may be that the driver has set off too fast and before a passenger is seated. The driver might have applied their brakes harshly or took a bend in the road or corner too fast. As a result, a passenger may have lost balance and fallen, sustaining an injury. Under these circumstances, you may be able to make a claim.
The Public Service Vehicles Regulations from 1990 state that a “driver and a conductor shall take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of passengers who are on, or who are entering or leaving, the vehicle.”
That said, many cases where the bus/coach driver has braked sharply to avoid a collision with another vehicle (without hitting it) have been to Court and the driver has not been found at fault. (See the case of Wooller -v- London Transport Board, and Barry -v- Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive). The Court will consider whether the driver of the bus or coach has acted like any other reasonable driver.
If a passenger has a disability, is young or infirm or is boarding with bags or luggage, then there have been cases where the Courts have found that the bus/coach driver has failed in their duty of care. An example of this was the case of W (A Child) v First South Yorkshire Ltd.
In this case, a three-year-old child had waited for the bus to arrive whilst being in a pushchair.
When the bus arrived, he made his way to the rear of the bus whilst his mother folded up his pushchair to be put in the luggage rack.
The bus driver pulled away when the child’s mother was making her way down the aisle. The motion of the bus caused the child to fall and bang his head.
The judge considered that the bus driver should have waited for the child to sit down, in that it was clear that child was young and did fit into the category of being vulnerable.
Will I need to attend Court?
Most cases don’t proceed to Court, but it may be required if the insurers of the Bus Company do not accept the claim. Reasons an insurer might not agree to settle a claim are:
If you have been injured in an accident, it is important that you seek medical attention. Not only will you be advised on suitable treatment for your injuries, there will be a record of you having sustained injuries within your medical records.
In March 2018, Oakwood Solicitors was approached by Miss K to pursue a claim on her behalf following a none fault road traffic accident she was involved in. A month earlier, Miss K, in her 70s, entered a bus with the intention of returning home following a shopping trip. She entered the bus and made her way towards a seat at the back.
She wished to sit with someone she knew on the bus. At the time she was pulling along a shopping trolley. It was very clear from Miss K’s movement that she was infirm. Before she got to her seat, the bus driver moved off to join the flow of traffic. Is wasn’t safe to do so and the driver needed to apply his brakes sharply. This caused Miss K to be flung forwards down the aisle and she fell on to her side.
This caused injuries to her chest, neck, elbow and shoulder. A claim was submitted to the insurers of the bus company. They initially responded by requesting evidence that Miss K was on the bus. A copy of her photographic identification was provided to them and they later accepted that our client was on the bus and that they had traced the accident in question.
They argued that Miss K could have used a seat closer to the door, and that their driver had not driven erratically. On review of the CCTV footage from the bus, it was clear by the distance that Miss K had been thrown forward that the driver had not noted that Miss K was vulnerable and had failed in his duty of care by setting off at speed and then using his brakes in a dangerous manner.
The insurers of the bus made an offer to settle the claim on a 50/50 basis. Law firms have a duty to seek instructions on any offers made, but it was our advice to reject the offer and push for a 100% settlement. Miss K was happy to accept our advice and the 50/50 offer was duly rejected.
Medical evidence was obtained on behalf of Miss K and it was anticipated that her injuries would resolve between 10 and 12 months of the accident. Once the medical report had been disclosed, the insurers of the bus returned to us with an offer of 90/10, meaning that Miss K would receive 90% of the value of her claim.
They also valued her claim at £2880.00. Having discussed the matter with Miss K, she was adamant that she wished to settle the claim and did not wish to become involved in Court Proceedings. We suggested that the 90/10 liability offer be accepted as per her instructions, but that we return to the third party insurers with a counteroffer of £3,900.00. We did so and the case went to settle at £3400.00 (Including the 10% reduction).
On this occasion, we were able to prove that Miss K had sustained personal injuries as a result of the bus driver’s negligence.
Why choose Oakwood Solicitors to escalate your claim?
Oakwood Solicitors has been dealing with personal injury claims caused by Road-Traffic Accidents (RTAs) since 2001. Many of our Solicitors and paralegals have been with us for over ten years, already having experience when they joined us.
We deal with claims that range between one thousand and hundreds of thousands of pounds, many of which will involve extensive claims for various kinds of expenses.
When you instruct us, you can expect a friendly, down to earth approach, together with an extensive knowledge of the field which will be used to fight tenaciously with the insurers to achieve the maximum level of compensation possible for you.
We are able to act for you on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning that there is no risk to you, and you will not be charged if the claim is unsuccessful.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
For any legal queries about Road Traffic Accidents involving buses and coaches, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.
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