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Determining liability after a bus accident occurs in Arizona is not always easy. In fact, it is rarely easy. Accidents with larger buses typically result in a range of parties becoming involved, including a bus company, government entity, insurance carriers, and legal teams. Here, we want to review the process of determining liability after an Arizona bus accident occurs.

Bus Accident Liability in Arizona

Bus Driver Liability

Bus drivers are expected to adhere to strict safety standards, given their responsibility for multiple passengers and other road users. If the bus driver was negligent, such as by speeding, driving while impaired, or ignoring traffic signals, they could be held liable. Proving driver negligence requires collecting evidence, such as surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts, or driver records. However, this becomes challenging if the driver works for a government entity with protective legal frameworks.

Bus Company Liability

Bus companies are responsible for hiring qualified drivers, maintaining buses, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations. If the company failed to properly train drivers, conduct vehicle maintenance, or uphold safety standards, it could be liable for the accident. Proving company negligence involves scrutinizing internal policies, maintenance logs, and driver employment records. It may also involve filing against insurance policies that cover the company, which often employ aggressive defense tactics to limit payouts.

Government Entity Liability

In some cases, buses are operated by government entities, such as public school buses or city transit systems. While these organizations also have a duty to maintain safe operations, pursuing compensation can be complex. Arizona law places limits on how and when to file claims against government entities. For instance, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 180 days, and specific procedures must be followed. This short timeframe and procedural complexity make it crucial to consult an experienced attorney.

Bus or Part Manufacturer Liability

Sometimes, bus accidents occur due to manufacturing defects or faulty components, such as brakes or steering systems. In these cases, the manufacturer may bear some liability. Proving manufacturer negligence requires a thorough technical investigation to identify defects and establish a direct link to the accident. Working with experts in vehicle safety standards may also be necessary to build a compelling case.

Other Drivers’ Liability

Not all bus accidents are directly caused by the bus or its driver. Other drivers on the road may act negligently, leading to a collision with the bus. In these situations, identifying the at-fault driver and proving their negligence requires thorough accident reconstruction, witness testimonies, and police reports.

Challenges in Holding Parties Liable

Some issues that could complicated the process of determining fault include:

  1. Multiple defendants. In many bus accidents, multiple parties may share liability, complicating the claims process. It requires investigating and negotiating with each defendant and their insurance carriers.
  2. Lawsuits against government entities. Claims against government entities follow different procedures and shorter deadlines than typical personal injury cases, making it challenging for unrepresented individuals.
  3. Bus company defenses. Bus companies often work with strong legal teams that can minimize their exposure through various legal defenses.
  4. Complex evidence. Proving fault often requires technical analysis and reconstruction of the accident, which can be costly and time-consuming.

If you have been harmed in an accident involving a larger bus in Arizona, please reach out to a Phoenix bus accident attorney as soon as possible. These claims can be incredibly challenging, and you need a legal advocate by your side with experience handling complex injury claims throughout this state.