I Was Injured in a Crash With a Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Bus. Do I Have Legal Options?

public bus during the daytime

When you step onto a public bus operated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), you are putting your safety in the driver’s hands. If the driver is reckless or negligent, you could get hurt.  

While the driver or others with the RTA may be at fault, they may claim immunity as a government entity. However, there are exceptions to this immunity, such as for negligence in operating a vehicle.

That is why Cleveland RTA accident victims should meet with an experienced Cleveland motor vehicle accident lawyer. The attorneys at Friedman, Domiano & Smith offer a free legal consultation and do not charge upfront fees. We have secured millions for motor vehicle crash victims in Northeast Ohio for decades.

Have questions after a bus accident? Call us: 216-621-0070.

Can We File a Claim Against the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority?

Even though the Cleveland RTA has immunity from some legal claims, victims of RTA bus crashes may still be able to file claims for compensation. Whether you were a passenger on the bus, another driver, pedestrian or bicyclist, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney to determine if you can take legal action. 

Under Ohio law, the Cleveland RTA is classified as a political subdivision. The Ohio Revised Code Section 2744.02(B) says political subdivisions are liable for injury, death or personal or property losses, if those losses are the result of acts or omissions connected to a governmental or proprietary function. This includes the actions or omissions of employees.

Specifically, the law says political subdivisions can be liable for injuries and damages from negligence in operating a motor vehicle. Your lawyer must establish that the liable employee was engaged within the scope of his or her employment and authority. 

Bus Passengers Are Owed a High Degree of Care

The Cleveland RTA may have a tough time avoiding liability for injuries to bus passengers, whether passengers were injured during a crash or for some other reason, like falling on the bus. Bus drivers, including those operating RTA buses, are common carriers, which means they owe the highest duty of care to their passengers. Bus drivers must warn passengers about dangerous conditions they discovered or were reasonably expected to discover.

Using Your Insurance Policy Before Filing a Lawsuit

Another reason to contact a lawyer to review your legal options is because of another section of Ohio law. Ohio Revised Code Section 2744.05 (B)(1) explains what will happen if you seek damages from your own insurance policy before filing a lawsuit against a government entity. If you obtain compensation from your insurance, the government entity is only going to have liability for deductibles and damages that exceed the limits of your insurance policy.

You should allow your lawyer to determine the available sources of compensation and what type of claim to file. At Friedman, Domiano and Smith, our goal is to secure full compensation for your injuries and damages.

Who Else Could be Held Liable for a Bus Crash?

While bus drivers are often the ones held liable for damages from a bus crash, other entities could be held liable. For example, the manufacturer of the bus or a malfunctioning component could be held liable if your lawyer can prove the defective part caused the crash.

Sometimes other drivers are at fault for a bus crash. They may have done something negligent or reckless, like speeding, violating the bus driver’s right of way, driving while distracted, tailgating, failing to stay in a lane, etc. If another driver is at fault, your lawyer would likely seek compensation from that driver’s car insurance policy.

There may also be claims involving negligent hiring or other forms of negligence by the RTA. For example, your lawyer may be able to obtain records showing the driver did not have the appropriate qualifications to operate the bus – the driver’s license may have been expired. The driver may have had a drug or alcohol problem or had a history of negligent driving, which should have resulted in the driver’s termination or suspension.

Common Types of Cleveland RTA Accidents

There are many types of bus accidents that can result in serious injuries to passengers and others sharing the road with the bus. For example, pedestrians and bicyclists need to be particularly careful in crosswalks. Pedestrians could get hit by a bus that is making a right or left turn. Sometimes pedestrians or bicyclists waiting at a bus stop could get hit or clipped by the bus as it approaches or passes.

Bus accidents are caused by various forms of negligent driving, including the following:

  • Running a red light
  • Tailgating other cars
  • Speeding, including driving too fast for road or weather conditions
  • Unsafe turns (turning too close to another lane of traffic or a curb)
  • Drunk/impaired driving
  • Failure to use a turn signal when changing lanes
  • Violating another vehicle’s right of way
  • Failing to watch for bicyclists
  • Driving the wrong way
  • Fatigued or drowsy driving
  • Failing to position side and rearview mirrors to allow the driver to see other vehicles

Negligent driving is dangerous no matter the vehicle, but it is particularly dangerous in a large vehicle like a bus. If a bus driver makes a mistake, it is much harder to correct. These vehicles are harder to maneuver, and they take longer to stop.

Something as simple as accelerating or making a turn too quickly could cause serious injuries to passengers. For example, someone could fall out of their seat or fall while walking to their seat. The fall could result in broken bones or even a traumatic brain injury.

Sometimes bus drivers allow too many people on the bus, which could increase the risk of the bus tipping over during a turn. The driver may have noticed a problem with an engine component or something else on the bus and failed to fix it or at least notify the appropriate parties. This could result in something not working when it should, and the driver may be unable to prevent a crash.

Injuries Suffered in Cleveland Bus Accidents

You could suffer a severe injury in a bus accident, whether you are on the bus during the collision or in another vehicle. Pedestrians and bicyclists are at increased risk for catastrophic or even fatal injuries in a bus crash.

Common bus crash injuries include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Complex fractures
  • Amputation of a limb
  • Internal injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Severe bruising

What Should I do After an RTA Bus Crash?

Your priority after any motor vehicle crash is getting treatment for your injuries. In some cases, immediate treatment may save lives. Waiting to seek treatment could allow injuries to get worse and could prolong your recovery.

That is why you should call 9-1-1, or if someone else already did, wait for help to arrive. First responders can provide treatment for injuries and the police can secure the scene and investigate the crash. They will complete a report about the accident that may be important evidence in an insurance claim.

One thing you should not do is say too much to the insurance adjuster. If you talk to the insurance adjuster for too long, you might say something that hurts your case. In fact, you could do this without even realizing it. Insurance adjusters have a lot of experience getting crash victims to make statements that hurt their credibility.

After getting treatment for your injuries, consider contacting an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.

Call Friedman, Domiano and Smith to Discuss Your Bus Accident

Government entities, like the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, are going to fight hard to avoid accountability for damages from an accident.

Victims need experienced legal representation from a firm with the resources to manage each step of the legal process. If you have questions after a bus crash that resulted in injuries, we are here to help.

If we validate your claim, we are prepared to seek out full compensation for your injuries and damages. Negligent parties need to be held accountable for the damage they caused.

Free legal consultation. No upfront fees. Call today: 216-621-0070.


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