A rear-end collision between an HRT bus and a car in Newport News, Virginia (VA), sent seven people to Riverside Hospital for treatment of various injuries. The crash happened at the intersection of Warwick Boulevard and J. Clyde Morris Boulevard a little before noon on January 31, 2017.
News reports indicate that the transit bus operator struck a Prius whose driver had paused in the yield lane before turning from Warwick onto J. Clyde Morris. Six passengers aboard the bus and the woman behind the wheel of the car reported injuries that required medical treatment. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening, and all the victims were treated and released.
Bus crashes occur less frequently than collisions that involve only cars, motorcycles and commercial trucks, but the consequences of such wrecks can be severe. In an average year, about 14,000 Americans suffer injuries in inner-city and charter bus crashes, while some 325 passengers and bus driver die in those types of incidents.
When collisions involving buses happen, driver error is often to blame. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration compilation of the causes of bus crashes in which the bus operator was determined to be at fault ranked the following reasons as the most common:
- Fatigue/Lack of sleep or adequate rest
- Alcohol and drug use
The law enforcement officials who are investigating the rear-end collision in Newport News have not publicly released their explanation for why the wreck happened. If any of the causes listed above apply, the HRT driver would be considered negligent or reckless. Such a finding would make insurance policies that cover the bus driver liable for settling personal injuries claims filed by the bus passengers and the woman in the car. HRT itself could also bear additional liability if evidence shows that its managers failed to provide adequate training and oversight to its driver; failed to keep brakes, tires and other safety equipment for the bus in proper repair; or failed to comply with hours of operation rules for time off between driving shifts.
The people hurt in the crash on Warwick Boulevard could benefit from consulting with a Virginia personal injury lawyer who has experience representing bus accident victims. Taking on a quasi-government agency like HRT presents special challenges, so going in with legal advice and a dedicated champion can increase the chances of securing adequate compensation for medical bills and other expenses.