For many residents and visitors in Springfield, the Sangamon Mass Transit District (SMTD) bus service is a convenient, affordable, and eco-friendly alternative to driving a personal vehicle. However, like any form of transportation, it’s not without its risks. While the vast majority of bus trips end without incident, SMTD bus accidents can and do occur.
Common Types of SMTD Bus Accidents
Common types of traffic accidents involving SMTD buses include the following:
- Rear-End Accidents: This type of accident occurs when a bus crashes into the back of another vehicle or vice versa. These accidents commonly result from distracted driving, sudden braking, or mechanical issues. Rear-end collisions can cause significant vehicle damage and potential injuries to passengers, especially if they are standing or sitting precariously.
- Head-On Collisions: These are among the most dangerous types of accidents. A head-on collision involves a bus and another vehicle hitting each other front-first. Such accidents can result from lane departure, distraction, or loss of control, often leading to severe or fatal injuries.
- Sideswipe Accidents: This happens when the side of a bus comes into contact with the side of another vehicle. It might occur when a bus driver tries to change lanes without noticing a car in their blind spot or if another vehicle tries to overtake without sufficient space. While these crashes are not always high-impact, they can still cause significant damage and horrible injuries.
- T-Bone Accidents: Also known as side-impact or broadside collisions, T-bone accidents happen when the front of a bus crashes into the side of another vehicle or vice versa. This often occurs at intersections when one vehicle fails to stop at a stop sign or red light. Passengers can suffer injuries in these types of accidents.
- Rollover Accidents: Although less common, rollover bus accidents are highly dangerous. They occur when a bus tips over onto its side or roof. This can result from sharp turns, collisions, or unsafe road conditions. Passengers are at risk of significant injuries in rollover accidents as they can be tossed around inside the vehicle.
Common Causes of Injuries
Here are some of the most common causes of SMTD bus accidents and injuries in Springfield, Illinois:
- Distracted Driving: In the age of smartphones and multitasking, distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents. Whether it’s checking a text message, adjusting the radio, or even eating while driving, any form of distraction can reduce a driver’s reaction time and lead to collisions.
- Driver Fatigue: Driving for extended periods or without adequate rest can impair a driver’s ability to focus and react swiftly to unexpected events. For bus drivers, especially those on longer routes or irregular shifts, fatigue is a common concern that compromises safety.
- Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol and drugs, including some prescription medications, can severely impair someone’s ability to drive. Even a relatively small amount of alcohol or a drug taken the night before can affect judgment, coordination, and reaction time, increasing crash risk.
- Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for road conditions reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway. It also extends the distance necessary to stop, increasing the severity of collisions.
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving: Tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and not yielding the right of way are common examples of reckless behaviors. Such actions, whether by bus drivers or other road users, increase the risk of accidents as they often catch other drivers off-guard.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Buses, like all vehicles, require regular maintenance. Failing brakes, worn-out tires, or malfunctioning lights can all contribute to accidents. Transport agencies or individual owners can be liable for accidents if they fail to keep their vehicles in safe condition.
- Vehicle Manufacturing Defects: Occasionally, design or manufacturing flaws in a bus or private vehicle can lead to malfunctions. Whether it’s a defective brake pad, a problematic engine component, or a faulty electrical system, these flaws can have dire consequences.
- Poor Road Conditions: Uneven surfaces, potholes, lack of proper signage, or inadequate lighting can all contribute to accidents. Municipalities and local governments are responsible for road infrastructure, and lapses in this responsibility can be a significant factor in bus accidents.
The sheer size and weight of buses, coupled with the fact that many bus passengers lack safety restraints, mean bus accidents can result in a range of injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured bones
- Dislocated joints
- Lacerations (cuts)
- Contusions (bruises)
- Abrasions (scrapes)
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Crush injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Burn injuries
- Facial injuries
- Dental injuries
- Eye injuries
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Ear injuries
- Broken ribs
- Punctured lungs
- Skull fractures
- Nerve damage
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Knee and leg injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you have experienced a bus accident in Springfield or are looking for resources to assist someone who has, here is a useful list of local services:
Address: 800 East Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62701
Non-Emergency Phone: (217) 788-8311
Address: 800 E. Carpenter St., Springfield, IL 62769
Phone: (217) 544-6464
Address: 701 N. First St., Springfield, IL 62781
Phone: (217) 788-3000
Urgent Care Clinics:
Address: 1025 South 6th St., Springfield, IL 62703
Phone: (217) 528-7541
Address: 1836 S. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: (217) 789-1403
Address: 4525 Wabash Ave., Springfield, IL 62711
Phone: (217) 528-7541
Address: 3132 Old Jacksonville Rd., Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: (217) 588-2600
Address: 3220 Atlanta St., Springfield, IL 62707
Phone: (217) 588-2600
Address: 2950 South 6th St., Springfield, IL 62703
Phone: (217) 588-2600
What to Do After an SMTD Bus Accident
Experiencing a bus accident can be traumatic and disorienting, especially if you sustain injuries. Knowing the steps to take afterward enables you to ensure your well-being, secure evidence, and protect your legal rights. If you are involved in an SMTD bus accident in Springfield, Illinois, here’s what you should do:
- Seek Medical Attention: Regardless of the severity of your injuries, get a checkup from a medical professional as soon as possible. Some injuries might not show immediate symptoms, so it’s important to document your post-crash condition even if you feel fine.
- Collect Information: Gather details from all parties involved, including names, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. Document the bus number, route, and the name of the bus driver, too.
- Document the Scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, damage, injuries, and any other relevant details.
- Gather Witness Statements: If there were witnesses to the accident, take down their names and contact information. Their accounts might be useful in establishing the sequence of events.
- Keep a Journal: Document your recovery progress, including your daily pain levels and any physical or emotional challenges you face.
- Avoid Giving Detailed Statements: When speaking with insurance representatives or other parties, be cautious not to make any admissions of guilt or provide more information than necessary. It’s best to consult with an attorney before giving statements to anyone.
- Preserve Evidence: Keep any medical records, bills, and other related documents safe. Also, retain any damaged personal belongings as they can serve as evidence of the collision.
- Contact an Attorney: An experienced attorney who handles bus accident cases can protect your rights and guide you through any legal proceedings. They can advise you about whether you’re eligible for compensation and the best course of action to take.
How Do You Prove Liability in an SMTD Bus Accident Case?
Determining liability is an essential step in any injury case. Numerous parties could be liable in an SMTD accident case, including SMTD itself, the driver of another vehicle, or even a third party that contributed to the accident. To prove liability after an SMTD accident, your lawyer can identify and analyze the available evidence, which might include the following:
Photos provide a visual account of the accident scene, showing vehicle positions, damage extent, road conditions, and any relevant traffic signs or signals. A lawyer can use them to illustrate inconsistencies in witness statements or to challenge the opposing side’s narrative of events.
Video from surveillance cameras, dash cams, or even bystander cell phones can capture the accident as it unfolds, showing the events leading up to, during, and after the collision. A lawyer can use video footage to pinpoint negligence or to establish a clear timeline of events.
Eyewitness accounts can offer crucial perspectives and details that might not be apparent from the physical evidence alone. A lawyer can leverage these statements to corroborate their client’s version of events or to highlight discrepancies in the other party’s account.
These documents provide a comprehensive view of the injuries sustained, their severity, and the treatments they require. Lawyers can use these records to prove the extent of their client’s injuries, establishing a direct link between the accident and the harm suffered.
Bus Driver Logbooks or Records
These logs contain details about the driver’s working hours, breaks, and overall condition. A lawyer might review them to check for violations of driving hour regulations or signs of fatigue that could have contributed to the accident.
Cell Phone or GPS Records
If you know or suspect distracted driving played a role in the crash, your lawyer can request cell phone records to check for the bus driver’s activity at the time of the accident. GPS records can also provide insight into the bus’s speed, route, and any sudden movements.
Accident Reconstruction Reports
Experts in accident reconstruction can analyze the available evidence to recreate the events leading up to the accident, which can establish liability. Lawyers can use these reports to analyze complex accident dynamics and explain them in a comprehensible way.
Toxicology Test Results
If impairment might have contributed to the accident, toxicology test results can confirm the presence of alcohol or drugs in a driver’s system. Lawyers can use positive results to establish fault and to strengthen their client’s claims for compensation.
Vehicle Manufacturing or Maintenance Records
These records can reveal whether a vehicle defect or lack of proper maintenance contributed to the accident. A lawyer can use them to shift liability away from their client and onto a manufacturer, maintenance crew, vehicle owner, or bus company.
Choosing the Best Bus Accident Lawyer for Me
Choosing the right lawyer for your SMTD bus accident claim is a crucial step in seeking the compensation and justice you deserve. As a mainstay in the Springfield community since 1948, The Noll Law Office stands out as a prime choice for those seeking experienced and dedicated legal representation.
What sets the Noll Law Office apart is its unwavering dedication to the community and its clients. They understand the devastating impact a bus accident can have on your life, and they are determined to fight against big insurance companies on your behalf. Their compassionate approach, combined with their aggressive legal strategies, ensures that your needs remain at the forefront from day one.
The Noll Law Office is a small, family-owned business that has been rooted in central Illinois for generations. When you come to the firm for help, you can expect personalized attention from bus accident lawyers who will handle your case with the utmost care and diligence.
The Noll Law Office is committed to open communication, thorough preparation, and the relentless pursuit of justice. They make a point of keeping you informed throughout the process, ensuring that you never feel left in the dark. When you choose The Noll Law Office, you are choosing a legal team that is from the community, for the community, and that will stand by your side every step of the way.
Contact The Noll Law Office for Help Today
Don’t let an SMTD bus accident derail your life. Trust in a firm with deep community roots and decades of experience. Call the Noll Law Office today at (217) 414-8889 or contact us online to discuss your options in a free case review.