Did you take the bus in Tucson, either of need or convenience, and found yourself injured in a crash? Maybe the bus driver misjudged a situation due to bad weather, fatigue, poor training, or drug or alcohol use. Maybe another driver hit the bus on which you rode. Or a bus crashed into you when you drove or walked in Tucson?

Call us.

Zanes Law Injury Lawyers has stood up for the rights of vehicle accident victims since 2003, and we have obtained millions of dollars in financial recovery for injured clients. We know that bus accidents can traumatize you, and we are ready to help you pick up the pieces and seek justice. Reach out today for more information.

Sun Tran does Not Operate Its Bus Services

Every year, the local bus provider, Sun Tran, provides over 15 million bus trips in the Tucson area. The bus company operates 29 fixed routes in the city and 13 express routes. Sun Tran also operates the Tucson Tramway. At last count, there were 237 buses in the fleet and over 2,200 bus stops in the city.

In addition, Sun Tran also operates Sun Van, an on-demand ride service for people with disabilities. This passenger service answers nearly 1,000 calls per day. Finally, there is a free on-demand ride service for passengers traveling within a certain zone.

Sun Tran, however, outsources the management and operation of its bus services. Currently, the company that has the contract is RATP Dev North America. The company manages transit operations throughout North America and the world, and it has had a contract in Tucson since 2013. It is a for-profit company that makes money to run mass transit. Financially, Sun Tran receives support from the Tucson General Fund.

The city awards its mass transit operation contract after a competitive procurement process. During the pandemic, Sun Tran has offered free bus fares to riders to relieve financial strains on riders. More than half of its riders do not have cars and depend on the transit provider to reach their destinations.

Recent Accident Upticks Threaten to Undo an Improving Safety Record

While Sun Tran has an improving safety record, the agency still has a long way to go.

Sun Tran has an accident rate of .55 per every 100,000 miles traveled. Sun Van has a slightly higher accident rate, with .78 accidents for every 100,000 miles traveled.

Sun Tran must file a monthly report of its operations under its contract with the City of Tucson. A June 2021 report reveals that the number of preventable accidents increased in 2021. Some of this is due to fewer bus trips occurring in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the increase is still concerning.

Numerous recent Sun Tran accidents include:

  • In January 2021, a fatal crash took place between a Sun Tran bus and a truck in Midtown Tucson.
  • In August 2021, a Sun Tran bus allegedly collided with a motorcyclist, causing life-threatening injuries to the biker.
  • In December 2020, the City of Tucson settled a lawsuit filed after a Sun Tran bus struck and killed a pedestrian in 2017.
  • In August 2018, a Sun Tran bus crashed at a Tucson freeway interchange.

Like every other transit agency in the country, Sun Tran struggles with staffing. Bus drivers are increasingly difficult to find. As a result, the average experience level of a Sun Tran driver is dropping. This staffing problem extends to all forms of transportation in Tucson. Even higher wages are not enough for Sun Tran to hire the drivers it needs. The shortage may force Sun Tran to put drivers behind the wheel before they are ready.

Common Causes of Tucson Bus Accidents

There are numerous causes of bus accidents.

Here are some of the reasons for bus accidents when the bus driver is to blame:

  • Driver inexperience – as mentioned above, Sun Tran just cannot staff its operations. Driving a bus in the city requires experience because it is not easy. Inexperienced drivers are far more likely to make mistakes.
  • Distracted driving – it is strictly illegal for anyone to text behind the wheel. It is even more so for city bus drivers. Despite the threat of discipline, it does not stop many drivers from doing something else besides driving.
  • Illegal turns – buses make many turns because their routes are rarely straight down one road. In addition, they also pull into and out of bus stops. Drivers may not look in blind spots, or they may not see pedestrians trying to cross streets.
  • Driver fatigue – the staffing shortage may have drivers pulling extra shifts or working at odd hours to cover demand. When they do not have proper rest, bus drivers are prone to making errors.
  • Poorly maintained buses – not every crash is the bus driver’s fault. Buses are very complicated vehicles, and every part must be in proper working order. Sun Tran may cut corners in maintaining critical things like the bus’ brakes. Buses need to stop quickly, and their steering must also be perfect.

Who Can Suffer Injuries in Tucson Bus Accidents

A Sun Tran accident can injure many people:

  • Sun Tran passengers Passengers can suffer injuries when the bus is in a collision. There are no seat belts or restraints on Sun Tran buses, so a sharp movement or sudden impact can cause significant injuries.
  • Other drivers and their passengers Buses are very heavy vehicles, and a crash at full speed can severely injure other motorists. The average city bus weighs 25,000-40,000 pounds, and this is before the weight of the passengers.
  • Pedestrians City buses often pull into and out of traffic to reach bus stops. Some pedestrians may cross the street in front of buses, or the driver may not see them when they have the right of way. The size of the bus makes it very likely that a passenger will sustain serious injuries.

Common Tucson Bus Accident Injuries

Bus accident injuries can range from mild to severe. Even passengers on the bus can be seriously hurt if they fall or hit their heads in the crash.

Here are some examples of common bus accident injuries:

  • Neck and back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations and cuts
  • Internal injuries

The injuries can be even more serious when one is in a car struck by a bus, given the disparity in weight between a city bus and a passenger car. A city bus will weigh ten times more than a passenger vehicle, even without passengers.

Bus Accidents Claims Mean Suing the City

When you are seeking compensation for a Sun Tran bus accident injury, you take on City Hall. To get a check for your bus accident injuries, you must sue the city itself. This is not always an easy thing to do. Tucson sees many claims each year, and its lawyers are looking out for its bottom line. The City of Tucson can be every bit as bad as an auto insurance company. Tucson has its own budget to look out for.

A government agency is not immune from a lawsuit. If their actions cause personal injury through negligence, they must pay for the damages that they cause. However, there are special rules and procedures that you need to be aware of before you sue. If you do not follow them, you can lose your right to obtain financial compensation.

Filing a Claim Against Sun Tran Under Arizona Law

A special law governs suing public entities and employees. The first part of this law states that you need to file your lawsuit within a year after you have a cause of action (the bus crash). You will need to submit your claim directly to the City of Tucson. The claim must begin within 180 days after the accident. You cannot file a lawsuit without making your claim first.

The claim must contain:

  • Facts that are sufficient for the person receiving the claim to understand the basis for the claim
  • The amount that you are seeking in damages and facts that support your exact damages.

If you do not make your claim within 180 days after the accident, the law bars your claim. Therefore, it is important to act quickly after your accident to both investigate the crash and establish your damages. You cannot lose valuable time because it can affect your ability to get a check. Your lawyer will need to get to work quickly. You must contact an experienced attorney who knows how to deal with the city and its lawyers right after your bus accident. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we know how to file claims against government entities, and we are not afraid to fight for our clients.

Damages That Sun Tran Must Pay For

Even if the city grants your claim, they do not need to pay you the amount that you have requested in damages. They may offer you far less than you have asked for, making a negotiation necessary. The good news is that, unlike many other states, Arizona does not cap damages when you sue a city. The only restriction is that you cannot get punitive damages from the city. Otherwise, you can receive compensation for the full extent of your damages.

These damages can include:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Emotional distress

If your loved one died in a bus accident, your family can file a wrongful death claim. This legal action will pay your family for the damages from losing your loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit pays for the financial and emotional support that your loved one would have provided had they lived.

Sun Tran Can Make Settling a Claim Difficult

Nonetheless, Tucson may deny your claim or not want to pay you anywhere close to your damages. In that case, you have the right to sue the city. Most bus accident cases will not go to trial but will settle beforehand. We always maintain trial as an option as we negotiate on your behalf with the local government. Tucson is susceptible to the same pressures as any insurance company, and litigation can be costly and time-consuming for them too.

Tucson Bus Accident FAQs

How Much Will It Cost Me To Hire a Bus Accident Lawyer?

You will not need to pay us anything upfront for our services. We will not ask you to write us a retainer check, and we will not send you bills while your case is pending. In fact, we will not send you a bill at all. You only pay us if we win, and that money will come out of the proceeds of your settlement or jury award.

How Do I Win a Bus Accident Lawsuit?

You must prove that Sun Tran or one of its employees was negligent in your case. Negligence means that the defendant owed you the duty of care and failed to uphold it by acting unreasonably under the circumstances.

Do I Sue the Bus Driver or the Bus Company?

You will likely not gain much if you sue the bus driver because they do not have the assets to pay you. Instead, the bus company is responsible for everything that their drivers do while they are on the job. The money to pay your settlement or jury award will come from the city’s general fund.

When Should I Get a Lawyer?

Given the compressed timeframes that you have to file a lawsuit, you cannot waste any time in getting a lawyer. They will need to perform a quick investigation of your case to learn the grounds for your lawsuit.

When Can I File a Lawsuit Against Sun Tran?

You can only file a lawsuit after the city processes and denies your initial claim. Then, you have only one year to file your lawsuit against Sun Tran.

Call a Tucson Bus Accident Lawyer for Help

If you or a loved one suffered losses due to a Sun Tran bus accident, Zanes Law Injury Lawyers are here for you. We can answer all of your questions and explain your legal options for you to obtain financial compensation if you can prove that the bus company was at fault. Call us today at (520) 777-7777 or contact us online for your free initial consultation. As we have explained, this is a call that you cannot delay when you have a bus company lawsuit.

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