Houston’s METRO bus service carries millions of people around the city each year. Bus travel may be easier than owning a car in the city and might be better for the environment, but bus drivers work very long shifts and become inattentive on the road. If this leads to an accident, you could be seriously injured riding a bus in Houston.
Our lawyers represent injury victims and their families in lawsuits against transportation companies and drivers who cause serious accidents. In such cases, there are multiple types of damages that plaintiffs may seek compensation for.
For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our experienced bus accident lawyers at the Queenan Law Firm by calling (817) 476-1797.
Metro and Other Bus Transportation in Houston
There are multiple types of busses that may be involved in accidents in Houston. Fortunately, our bus accident attorneys can assist victims of crashes involving either of the following types of vehicles:
METRO refers to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. They are a public entity that operates a multitude of bus routes and stops throughout the greater Houston region. If you were injured as the result of an accident involving a METRO bus, then our bus accident lawyers may be able to obtain compensation for the damages you sustained.
In addition to METRO busses, there are also many charter busses that travel throughout the Houston region each day. These busses are typically rented by private groups to transport between destinations. Like victims of METRO bus accidents, victims of charter bus accidents can also pursue payment for their injuries.
Buses and other Transportation in Houston
Houston is served by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, or also known as METRO. The METRO system provides public transportation to residents, visitors, and students by offering a comprehensive system of buses, trolleys, and lift vans, as well as a light rail system. The METRO system provides access to many areas of the city and serves many of Houston’s suburban areas as well. Many of the park and ride buses that operate on Houston roads driver in the high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes. These buses further connect the surrounding areas to Houston including:
- Alvin (Yellow Jacket Grocery-Citgo)
- Angleton (Ocampos Mexican Rest)
- Baytown (Baytown Travel Express)
- Conroe (Conroe Greyhound Station)
- Galveston (Galveston Bus Station)
- Katy (at Millers Exxon)
- Prairie View (at Unco Food Store)
- Rosenberg (at Shell-McDonalds)
- Sealy (at Mazac Muffler City-AC)
- Texas City (at McKown Air Conditioning, also serving La Marque)
In addition to the public transportation systems that are readily available to Houston residents and visitors, the popular Greyhound Bus service is also available and operates five stations in Houston.
Bus Crashes in Houston Often Attributed to Bus Driver Error
Make no mistake that bus accidents are not severe, these large and heavy vehicles can cause massive amounts of property damage, personal injury, and even fatalities. While these vehicles offer a convenient and cost-effective way to travel, they can also be hazardous on the road. Determining who is responsible for a bus accident and what were the reasons behind a bus accident is not always an easy task, however, through intensive investigation we have observed that some of the most common causes and reasons behind a bus accident include the following:
There are a number of reasons a bus may get into an accident, but driver fatigue seems to be one of the most common. Some of the other common (but somewhat less frequent) causes of bus accidents include:
- Driver distraction or negligence
- Road rage or driving aggressively
- Blind spots
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Poor Weather Conditions
- Too much time on the road
- Mechanical problems
- Error on the part of the driver
One of the most significant causes of severe bus accidents is driver fatigue. Experts have concluded that when a driver does not have adequate rest their reaction time, decision-making abilities and mental clarity are similar to those who have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Houston Metro Bus Accident Statistics
METRO operates over 100 bus routes and over 8000 bus stops throughout the Houston area. With a high number of busses on the road, there is a high potential for bus accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 2,645 bus crashes in 2020.
Victims of these accidents can suffer a wide range of painful and debilitating injuries. Thankfully, injured parties may acquire financial compensation for the harm they endured.
Who is Liable for a METRO Bus Accident in Houston?
The first step in determining who is liable for your METRO bus accident will involve identifying the party who caused your crash. Any of the following parties may be held accountable for your collision:
The Bus Driver
If your accident happened because of a METRO bus driver’s negligence, then you may be able to sue them personally for the injuries you sustained. However, these drivers may lack the resources to pay for the full extent of damages you incurred.
You may also be able to sue METRO if one of their drivers caused your accident. However, cases against public entities can be complicated. Guidance from our legal team can be highly valuable when seeking to file a claim against METRO.
A Third-Party Driver
In some cases, METRO bus accidents occur because of negligence exhibited by third-party drivers. For example, your bus crash may have occurred because another driver was speeding and ran a red light. In that case, you may sue the at-fault driver for damages caused by your bus accident injuries.
How a Houston METRO Bus Accident Lawyer Can Help
Filing a lawsuit after a METRO bus accident can be complex process. There are several steps that you may need to complete before obtaining compensation. Fortunately, our lawyers can help navigate each of the following stages of your case:
Reviewing Your Claim
You may file a lawsuit against the party responsible for your bus accident. However, there are several key elements that must be established for your case to succeed. During a free case evaluation, our legal team can help evaluate the strength of your potential claim.
Next, our attorneys can help gather evidence that proves the defendant in your case is at fault. There are several types of evidence that may be used. For example, surveillance footage from a nearby motorist’s dashboard camera may prove that a METRO bus driver caused your accident by running a red light. Furthermore, a statement from an eyewitness may help suggest that a METRO bus driver caused your accident by failing to yield the right-of-way.
In any case, you seek help from our team as quickly as possible after your bus accident. Relevant evidence needed to support your case may become hard to preserve or collect as time goes on. The sooner you contact our lawyers, the more easily we can gather the information needed to support your claim.
Filing Your Case
Furthermore, our attorneys can help comply with the numerous conditions for filing your case. First, your lawsuit must be brought to court in accordance with the deadline set forth by Tex. Civ. Prac & Rem. Code § 16.003. Typically, you will have two years from the date of your bus accident to file your lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, a shorter deadline will apply for cases filed against public entities like METRO.
The Texas Tort Claims Act requires plaintiffs to notify the proper section of government of their intention to file a claim against them within six months of the accident at issue. Furthermore, municipal governments may impose even shorter deadlines for providing notice of a claim. Houston has an established city charter that requires victims to notify METRO of their intention to sue them for a bus accident within 90 days of their crashes.
In addition to filing your case on time, there are several other conditions that you may need to satisfy when bringing your METRO bus accident case to court. For instance, you will have to file in the proper jurisdiction, attach supporting documents, pay necessary filing fees, serve defendants, and ensure you file a complete claim. Accordingly, support from our attorneys can be immensely beneficial when seeking to satisfy the many conditions for filing your bus accident case.
Negotiating for Fair Compensation
After filing your METRO bus accident case, the defendant will likely present you with a settlement offer before trial. When you enter into a settlement agreement, the defendant will pay you a specific sum of damages in exchange for the dismissal of your claim. There are potential advantages to settling early. For instance, plaintiffs who reach settlement agreements may acquire compensation sooner and save on various costs associated with going to trial.
Unfortunately, defendants in bus accident cases are often reluctant to pay victims what their claims are truly worth. Our attorneys can help communicate with defendants and negotiate for fair compensation. However, if an adequate settlement offer is not presented, then you will have to go to court to obtain the payment you are owed.
Representing You at Trial
Finally, our lawyers can help represent you at trial. Our team will ensure that your interests are protected and that you are not taken advantage of. Furthermore, we will present your case in a clear and convincing manner.
Damage Limits for Bus Accident Cases Against METRO in Houston
Car accident cases are usually brought to court under a negligence theory, that is that a driver has a duty to drive their vehicle, they breached their duty when they say for example ran a red light, as a result of this breach they were the cause of the accident, and there were subsequently injuries. While the actual application of this standard is more complex the law behind a car accident can be rather easy to grasp. However, the problem that many motorists, pedestrians, and passengers on buses encounter is the Texas Tort Claims Act, which governs lawsuits against government entities in Texas. This law can limit the amount of money you may recover from an accident with a bus that is operated by the City of Houston. Specifically, Section 101.023 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code provides for a cap on a number of damages and states:
(a) Liability of the state government under this chapter is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $250,000 for each person and $500,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), liability of a unit of local government under this chapter is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
(c) Liability of a municipality under this chapter is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $250,000 for each person and $500,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
(d) Except as provided by Section 78.001, the liability of an emergency service organization under this chapter is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
This can effectively limit the amount of money that you may recover from an accident with a city bus in Houston. Because of the Texas Torts Claims Act, only permits you to sue a municipal government entity for $250,000 per person, with a maximum of $500,000 per incident, your injuries may exceed the amount of money you can recover. This also raises another issue for motorists to consider after they have been involved in an accident, is that as the Texas Torts Claims Act applies to governments including municipalities and cities, you will likely be dealing with city lawyers and insurance companies that are eager to offer you a quick low-ball settlement.
Injuries from METRO Bus Accidents in Houston, TX
Riders rely on safe driving not only from the bus driver but also from the other drivers on the road. Bus accident victims most often include the riders themselves, but others outside the bus can also be seriously injured if they are hit by a bus while walking, riding a bike, or traveling in another vehicle. Our bus accident lawyers explain some of the common injuries you can face in a bus accident.
Minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and bruises are some of the most common injuries. Injuries from striking against surfaces inside the bus can cause bruises and contusions, and broken glass and other debris can lead to cuts. Wounds can also open if you strike against a surface hard enough, often requiring some medical attention to treat the injuries
Moderate injuries like broken bones, whiplash, and concussions are also common in bus accidents. If you fall or suffer serious blunt force trauma, you can suffer broken ribs, broken collar bones, broken hips, or even broken wrists and legs. More severe breaks can also include skull fractures, spinal fractures, and broken bones in the face. Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents and can actually leave you with permanent neck pain and lasting discomfort even after the initial injury heals. A concussion is a mild form of brain injury, but may not be life-threatening if there is no internal bleeding or substantial injury.
More severe injuries in a car accident can be life-threatening. Severe brain injuries can result in cognitive issues, memory issues, and even motor control issues that can last for the rest of your life. Severe spinal injuries can leave you paralyzed and require ongoing medical care. Furthermore, amputation from severe accidents or from being hit by a bus can require ongoing physical therapy and completely alter your life.
Lastly, death is not uncommon in bus accidents. Especially if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a bus, they could be killed without the protection of a car around them.
Suing METRO for Bus Accidents in Houston
METRO is the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. Its buses are operated as one of the many transportation services METRO offers to the public. If you were injured in an accident involving one of METRO’s buses, you may be able to file your lawsuit against METRO to seek financial compensation. However, you can only recover compensation from METRO if they are found at fault for the crash or otherwise responsible for the damages.
Although a bus driver may have literally caused the accident, METRO can typically be held liable for its driver’s errors. This “vicarious liability” allows you to sue METRO for damages whenever its employees cause accidents while performing their job duties. While you still bring the lawsuit against the driver, you can include their employer in the lawsuit to cover the payments, even if METRO itself did nothing wrong.
If METRO did make mistakes, you can also hold them directly liable for those errors. Since METRO owns and maintains the buses in its fleet, you may be able to sue METRO for any accidents caused by equipment malfunctions. Problems like exploding bus tires, underinflated tires, malfunctioning hydraulic lifts, bad brakes, and other mechanical issues could contribute to an accident, and METRO should compensate victims for its errors.
METRO is also liable for hiring bad drivers. If they hired a driver they should have known was dangerous, had a history of DUI or severe traffic accidents, or had other serious red flags, they may be liable for “negligent hiring.” Similarly, they could also be held liable for “negligent retention” if they keep a bad driver on staff. This does not make them fully at-fault for the crash, but it makes them liable for their contributions to the crash.
If the METRO bus driver was not responsible for the crash, you can still sue the driver who was responsible. If you were injured while riding a bus because another car or truck hit the bus, the METRO driver may not be at fault. Still, METRO’s insurance might cover your injuries whether or not the other driver’s insurance will pay. This could mean you still need to file a claim or lawsuit against METRO to get full compensation.
Call Our Houston METRO Bus Accident Injury Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you were injured in an accident involving a METRO bus in Houston, it is important to talk to an injury attorney about your case. METRO and their insurance company may contact you with settlement offers, but it is vital to learn what your case might be worth and discuss your options before accepting any money. Call the Houston METRO bus accident lawyers at the Queenan Law Firm today to set up a free legal consultation and learn more about suing for a METRO bus accident. For your free consultation, call (817) 476-1797 today.