The Special Dangers from Bus Rollover Accidents

When the evening news tells about a multi-car collision on a freeway in some distant state—due, perhaps, to traffic entering a snow squall or a sudden fog bank—we stop for a moment to pay closer attention.

“My, my. Eighteen vehicles involved. Ten people sent to a hospital,” we might say. “What a tragedy.”

The thing is that it’s the rarity of such accidents that stirs our interest. We pay less attention to other, more common accidents, even if they have a greater toll in carnage.

You don’t believe it? Then consider bus rollover accidents, in which a motorcoach spins end-over-end or around its central axis before coming to a rest. Statistical analysis of such crashes finds these to be the most dangerous form of bus accident, with an average injury rate of 25 casualties for each incident. Fatalities are remarkably common. And yet, despite the fact that a typical bus rollover will hurt more than two dozen people, such accidents get only local news coverage for a day or two.

This is what happens when your bus rolls over

Accident reconstruction specialists have identified three primary ways in which a rollover accident may harm passengers:

  • Intrusion. Rolling on its side or upside down can cause the structural framework of the bus to deform and break. An intrusion injury occurs when parts of the bus frame enter the passenger area to strike bus occupants.
  • Projection. The violent tumbling of the bus as it rolls and tilts can thrust passengers against one another, against fixed parts of the bus (seats, ceiling, walls, and other structural components), or against moving objects such as luggage. These are all called projection injuries.
  • Ejection. Passengers of the bus may be thrown partially or completely out of the vehicle through broken windows or ripped sides of the bus. An ejected passenger may strike the ground or be run over by the bus or other vehicles. Ejection incidents are often fatal, but they are virtually unknown in bus accidents other than rollovers.

There are also second-tier effects, including electrical currents and smoke from a fire, which can harm passengers during a motorbus rollover accident.

It surprises many people to learn that a bus can tip over so easily despite being operated by a trained, professional driver. The fact is that buses are designed to be less stable than automobiles or light trucks. Even though a bus weighs more than a passenger vehicle, its height means the bus also has a high center of gravity. We know from basic physics that the higher the center of gravity in any object, the more easily it may be knocked over by random motion.

Think of it this way: compare the stability of two bricks, one set flat on a table and the other balanced on end. Poking the tall brick with your finger can send it tumbling because the center of gravity is no longer directly over the rectangular base of the brick. But if you push the flat brick with the same force, it won’t roll over. A bus is much like the tall brick: it’s shape and mass make it inherently less stable. A steep curve, a collision with a standing object or another vehicle, or a drop onto the shoulder of a highway may be enough to jostle the bus into rolling over.

Injured in a bus crash? The Bus Safety Lawyers at Ostroff Injury Law can help

If you believe that a flaw in the design of your bus caused an accident in which you have been injured, you may be eligible to seek a recovery from the company that designed or manufactured the vehicle. You also may be entitled to compensation from the company that operates the bus line for its failure to train your driver to handle the bus safely.

Jon Ostroff, the Bus Safety Lawyer, can aggressively pursue your rights to a fair and full settlement. He collects no fees for their work unless they’re able to get a settlement or an award for damages. For help understanding what to do after your bus accident, call (888) 653-3636 for a FREE attorney consultation about your case.