Blog: the myriad claims arising from two buses colliding

David Armstrong
David Armstrong

David Armstrong discusses the claims arising from accidents involving buses and how technology might be used to avoid such tragedies in the future.

It’s actually quite rare to hear of a crash involving two city buses. They do, of course, get involved in scrapes with cars and indeed with pedestrians almost on a daily basis. These wretched mirrors which stick out represent to me one of life’s real hazards. I have acted for a number of victims suffering head injuries as a result of being hit including pedestrians on the pavement.

A crash between two buses, can, of course, lead to a myriad of different claims. The suggestion in the BBC report of the recent collision between buses in Brighton is that one of the drivers may have been unwell. The nature and extent of that, will, of course, have to be fully investigated. If it is indeed established that the condition came on without warning and was not something that either the driver or indeed his employers ought to have known about, then it is entirely possible that the insurer may be able to avoid any liability in respect of losses incurred by any party involved.

If, however, fault can be established, the occupants of both buses can make claims as indeed can the driver. The claims may also involve ones from pedestrians caught up in the crash.

As we don’t require to wear seat belts on inner city buses, some of the injuries involving the occupants could in fact be quite significant. The impact will, no doubt, have thrown some occupants off the bus and its interior thus causing injury depending upon what they hit and how hard they hit it. It will be important for the insurers to deal with these claims as quickly as possible.

Of course, as well as dealing with claims, it is perhaps an opportunity to fully investigate this accident and to learn from any lessons arising from it. I have always been concerned that such massive vehicles do travel so close to pavements and it only takes a moments slight inattention for there to be a major calamity. We did, of course, see something very similar in the dreadful events in Glasgow involving a bin lorry. These buses are mighty big vehicles and it must have come the point at which we should use technology to our advantage. For example, can there not be sensors on buses that if they are getting close to a collision either involving another vehicle or pedestrians that the engine automatically shuts down and emergency brakes are applied? Such technology has been used in America involving large vehicles in inner cities. We don’t want to get to the point of having a calamity take place in one of our cities with multiple deaths before there is further consideration of such safety measures.

  • David Armstrong is a partner at Brodies LLP, you can view his profile here.