New York Bus Accident Lawyer

On January 5, 2024, a bus rollover crash on an upstate New York highway left one person dead and about a dozen passengers injured, according to the news media. The bus was traveling south from Montreal, Canada when it crashed on the Adirondack Northway in the town of Lake George.

Unfortunately, accidents like this happen frequently in New York. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), New York was number one in the nation for the most bus accidents in 2022, followed by Florida, Texas, California, and Illinois.

When you get on a bus in New York, you expect it to get you safely to your destination. Though accidents can happen at any time, a bus accident can be catastrophic and result in severe injuries. If someone was negligent in causing that accident, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries.

At Chaffin Luhana, our mission is to help get justice and fair compensation for bus-accident victims. When we take on your case, we put our decades of national experience to work fighting for you.

Bus Accidents in New York

In 2021, there were 5,904 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes, according to the FMCSA. This was an 18 percent increase from 2020. On average, from 2010 to 2021, intercity buses accounted for 11 percent of crashes, and school buses and transit buses accounted for 37 percent and 36 percent, respectively, of all buses involved in fatal crashes.

In 2022, New York led the nation in bus accidents with a total of 1,463 accidents. A total of 1,118 people were injured and 16 killed. According to the NYPD, 315 buses were involved in accidents in January 2024 alone.

In these statistics, the category of “buses” can include cross-country intercity buses (motor coaches), transit buses, van-based buses, and other types. Sadly, between 1975 and 2021, school buses led the way in bus accidents, with over 5,000 accidents. Transit buses came in a close second.

In 2014, New York City adopted the Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries on New York City streets by 2024. As part of the plan, the city installed reduced speed limits and more speed safety cameras. A recent report from CBS News indicated that there has been progress across the city, but not everywhere. In parts of Queens, for example, traffic deaths per capita rose by 125 percent.

Meanwhile, 2023 was the deadliest year for bike riders, and motorist fatalities were up 23 percent citywide.

Why Bus Accidents Are So Dangerous

Bus accidents can cause more property destruction and injuries than car accidents for several reasons:

  • Buses are heavier, and can therefore cause more damage to other vehicles, bike riders, pedestrians, and property. Even smaller buses weigh more than most standard vehicles.
  • Buses can’t slow down or steer rapidly, which means that bus accidents often occur at a higher velocity than other collisions.
  • Buses have higher profiles than other vehicles, making them susceptible to rollover accidents.
  • Buses typically carry many passengers, increasing the odds of multiple injuries.
  • Buses often have an uneven distribution of “cargo,” putting them slightly off balance and increasing the risk of a rollover in an accident.
  • Buses lack common safety equipment, including airbags and seat belts. Passengers are more likely to be thrown about in a crash.
  • Buses have large, open spaces, giving airborne passengers more room to accelerate before striking something.

When to Hire a New York Bus Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one were injured in a bus accident in New York, you may wonder if you should hire a bus accident attorney. You could proceed on your own, but because of the complexities often present in a bus accident, that may be a mistake that will cost you a fair settlement.

New York is a no-fault state. That means that insured drivers are generally covered for damages by their own insurance companies regardless of who was responsible for causing the accident.

This is true for bus accidents as well as car accidents. If you are injured on a bus or a school bus in New York state, No-Fault benefits must be paid by your auto insurer. The law further stipulates that you should only file a No-Fault claim with the insurer of the bus or school bus if there is no such auto policy in your household.

If you’re in a bus accident in New York, then you must first file a claim with your own insurance company. Many times, that will be enough to cover your damages.

In cases of severe injury, however, your losses may exceed the amount of coverage you have on your insurance policy. Sometimes companies believe you will accept their initial offer because of the trauma you’ve been through, and because you don’t know how much your claim is really worth. A New York bus accident lawyer can help make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

The insurance company may also refuse to pay out your claim. If the company is stalling or trying to minimize your settlement, a skilled lawyer can help you negotiate with them.

Bus accidents that result in severe injuries and/or extensive property damage often leave victims without enough resources to fully cover their damages. If there were multiple parties involved, a NYC bus accident attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the law to help cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you discover any of the following, you owe it to yourself to speak with a New York bus accident attorney.

  • your insurance company offers you less than you require in a settlement
  • your insurance claim is denied
  • you will need surgery or ongoing medical treatment and your insurance doesn’t cover these costs
  • you can’t return to work
  • the daily tasks of life are proving much more difficult because of your injuries
  • someone was negligent in the accident

How to Choose the Best New York Bus Accident Lawyer

If you start searching for a bus accident attorney in New York, you’ll find that there are a lot of them. It can feel overwhelming to try to choose the one that will be best suited to deal with your particular type of case. Follow these steps when making your selection.

Look for Experience

The bus accident lawyer you choose should be someone with experience dealing with your kind of case, in your state. The person needs to be up-to-date with New York laws and understand insurance companies and their attorneys.

Look for those individuals who specialize in representing plaintiffs in bus accident cases. Find out what the attorney’s track record is, and if he or she has won cases like yours. You also want a lawyer with resources, as typically a bus accident investigation requires a law firm to have the proper connections with experts who can support your case.

Check the firm’s online reviews and look to see if the lawyers are members of respected organizations such as the American Bar Association. Finally, make sure the lawyers have trial experience. Hopefully, your case won’t go to trial, but you want someone who has experience in court if such a step becomes necessary.

Schedule an Initial Consultation

In your search, narrow down your list to the top five or so New York lawyers or law firms. Then call each one and schedule an initial consultation. Most law firms (including Chaffin Luhana) will provide a free initial meeting where you can ask questions and determine whether a) you have a case and b) you want to move forward with that firm.

During that initial meeting, ask the attorney about their general experience, their history with cases like yours, how they handle fees, and who would be working on your case. Get to know the lawyer and their staff.

Find out if the firm has additional resources to help secure expert witnesses and appropriately investigate your case. And finally, pay close attention to how the attorney and staff communicate with you.

Trust Your Gut

After meeting with the New York attorneys on your list, decide which one inspires the most confidence when it comes to resolving your case.

Why Choose Our New York Bus Accident Lawyers

At Chaffin Luhana, we focus only on plaintiffs like you who have been injured and need help obtaining fair compensation. We have the experience and the resources you need and pride ourselves on providing regular and helpful communication.

Our hard-working team includes former federal and state prosecutors, former state and federal judicial law clerks, former large defense firm attorneys, court-appointed leaders in the national Plaintiffs’ bar, and social workers—a team with unique and in-depth experience to guide you through your case.

As national leaders in the plaintiffs’ bar, we have extensive experience that is nationally recognized. To date, partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana have been involved in recovering over $1 billion for their clients so far. The firm itself has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for individually injured plaintiffs.

Finally, we believe in giving back to our communities. With a mission of “Doing Good by Doing Right™,” we have donated a substantial portion of the firm’s revenues—hundreds of thousands of dollars to date—to charitable causes and issues that impact our clients and local communities. The Chaffin Luhana Foundation has also funded scientific research, donated to dozens of charities, and given away numerous college scholarships.

What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana

Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:

Over $4 Million Recovery

“I was very pleased with the representation that I received for my case. I had a positive experience with this firm and I would recommend your firm to my family and friends.”

– Judy R., Product Liability Injury Client

Nearly $3 Million Recovery

“I would tell prospective client[s of your firm] to be patient—trust your lawyers, trust that they know what they are doing, even though it is hard for people not in the business to understand all the legal wording and details.”

– Duane B, Product Liability Injury Client

Automobile Accident Victim

“They treat you like family. I was even sent a sympathy card when my mother passed, which was totally unexpected.”

– Debra S., Personal Injury Client

Automobile Accident Victim

“[Chaffin Luhana] definitely delivered. The previous firm told me they couldn’t help me. My mom saw the commercial, and she said try someone else. I called you and within four months, you had it all resolved.”

– Carley H., Personal Injury Client

Find more testimonials here.

Types of New York Bus Accident Cases Handled

Bus accidents can vary depending on how they happen, where the collision occurs, what causes them, and more. When it comes to seeking damages for your losses, the process that you and your lawyer follow may be different depending on what type of accident you were in.

Traffic experts and insurance companies use different categories to help them identify specific issues in a bus accident. The following categories are the most common. Chaffin Luhana has extensive experience dealing with each one.

Bus Driver Negligence

Many bus accidents occur because the driver made a mistake. Maybe the driver was speeding or failed to yield the right of way. Perhaps he or she was engaged in reckless driving when the accident happened or was distracted by a cell phone or GPS device. Sometimes, drivers fail to yield the right of way or make improper lane changes.

A driver may even be driving under the influence of alcohol, medications, or other drugs. If any of these are found to be true, the driver will probably be totally or partially at fault for the accident.

Bus Company Negligence

One of the things that’s unique about bus accidents when compared to car accidents is that the driver is typically working for another entity, such as a company or school district. That means that even if the accident was the driver’s fault, the company may be held liable. The company may also share in the fault for the accident if it:

  • Encouraged drivers to spend more hours behind the wheel than is allowed by safety regulations
  • Neglected to perform thorough background checks on all drivers
  • Let the buses go without regular maintenance and/or repairs
  • Did not adequately train their drivers to perform their jobs
  • Lacked adequate policies regarding substance abuse, distracted driving, and other dangers, or failed to enforce the policies they had

The FMCSA mandates that bus companies perform regular inspections and maintenance on their vehicles, but not all companies adhere to these requirements. If they don’t and an accident results from a preventable mechanical failure, they may be held liable for the damages.

A New York bus accident attorney can uncover these types of problems during the investigation of your case. They can then use the evidence they gather to prove your right to compensation.

Bus Driver Fatigue

Bus driver fatigue may be the fault of the driver or the company he or she is working for. Either way, it’s often its own separate category because it’s a frequent highway killer in the U.S.

In a 2018 study, researchers found that severe sleep apnea was associated with a 123 percent increased crash risk when compared to no sleep apnea. Sleeping only six hours a night was also associated with a 33 percent increased crash risk, compared to sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night. These associations were present even in those who didn’t report feeling like they were sleepy.

Bus drivers typically have demanding schedules that keep them on the road for long hours. The FMCSA has clear restrictions on hours of service for commercial drivers, but not all companies observe them.

Other Drivers’ Negligence

Sometimes, a bus gets into an accident and it wasn’t the driver’s fault—it was the driver of another vehicle that caused it. Errors on the part of another driver can lead to a collision or leave the bus driver with no way to avoid a collision.

If, during the case investigation, your New York bus accident lawyer determines that another driver was at fault, you may be able to bring a claim against that driver for your losses. The windows may have been installed incorrectly, or the steering and/or breaking could fail unexpectedly.

Bus Defects

Companies that design, manufacture, and sell buses and all the various parts that make up a bus can sometimes be held liable in a bus accident if the accident was found to be caused by a product defect or mechanical failure.

Maybe the tires were defective, for example, leading to the accident. Maybe the lights didn’t work as they should, or the brakes were faulty.

If any of these types of defects are determined to have caused or contributed to the bus accident, the manufacturer of the bus or the specific part that failed could be held liable for damages. A knowledgeable bus accident attorney can help root out the evidence supporting the argument that the defect contributed to the collision.

Hazardous Road Conditions

If a government entity fails to ensure safe road designs and maintenance, it may be held liable for some types of bus accidents. Roads require upkeep, and if the city or state fails to live up to their duty, accidents can happen.

A deep pothole, for example, particularly on a dark, snowy night, may be enough to cause a bus accident. If a bus lane lacks the proper dimensions, it could increase the risk of a collision with another vehicle. Even uneven pavement or debris can derail a bus, as buses are less maneuverable than smaller vehicles.

If the accident came about because of issues with the road itself, a wise New York bus accident lawyer may  look to hold a city or other municipality liable for injuries caused by the accident.

Weather-Related Accidents

In New York, harsh winter weather can create hazardous driving conditions. Snow, ice, fog, heavy rain, and black ice can all contribute to reduced visibility and slippery roads, making it harder for bus drivers to control their vehicles.

Should a driver fail to exercise the appropriate caution when driving in these conditions, they may be held liable for an accident. Bus companies, as well, must ensure their vehicles are equipped with the appropriate safety features, like anti-lock brakes and functioning windshield wipers.

Bus Fires

On May 23, 2023, a school bus fire occurred in Queens, New York. The driver was taking six kids between the ages of 5 and 11 home from school when the front engine started smoking. He got all the kids off, thankfully, though the fire spread to five other vehicles, completely ruining three of them.

A fire on a bus can be a particularly dangerous event. Passengers at the back of the bus may not be able to escape, or fumes may overtake them before they can get out.

Bus fires typically begin in the engine or at the tires and wheel wells. Though careful maintenance can prevent these fires, companies don’t always perform that maintenance. Engine leaks, age, or engine defects can all lead to a fire, as can under-inflated tires.

Types of Serious Injuries Sustained in a New York Bus Accident

Serious injuries that may result from a car accident include the following:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Concussions
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Broken Bones
  • Neck and Back Injuries
  • Knee Injuries
  • Foot and Ankle Injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Wrist and Hand Injuries
  • Crush Injuries
  • Internal Injuries and Bleeding
  • Disfiguring Facial Injuries and Scars
  • Limb Loss and Amputations
  • Burn Injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Bruising/Contusions/Sprains/Strains
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average bus accident settlement in New York?

New York’s at-fault law requires insurance companies to pay accident victims up to $50,000 for economic and medical losses. There is no requirement to pay for pain and suffering damages. Serious  injury cases may be able to recover more.

If you hire a bus accident attorney, he or she can help make sure you recover all your damages. Though each case is different, a bus accident settlement may range from $25,000 to $250,000 or more. Factors affecting the amount include the severity of the injuries and property damage, the number of parties involved, and what caused the accident.

Is NY a no-fault state for bus accidents?

Yes. New York is a no-fault state. That means that insured drivers are generally reimbursed for their losses by their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. If you are severely injured and your expenses exhaust your insurance policy limits, a New York bus accident attorney may be able to help you find compensation from other sources.

Who can file a New York bus accident lawsuit?

All passengers who suffer an injury due to negligence are entitled to file a lawsuit to seek financial compensation for their losses. Property and business owners who were impacted by the incident may also have a legal claim.

How long does it take for a bus accident lawsuit to settle in New York?

Every case is different, so there is no standard timeline for settling a bus accident case. The process typically takes a few weeks to a few months for less complicated cases. If there were multiple parties involved or if you’re having difficulties with the insurance company, it may take up to a year or more.

What is the statute of limitations for a bus accident in New York?

In New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury action—such as one involving a bus accident—is three years. The date begins on the date of the accident.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  • Municipalities: If your case involves a municipality, you have less time. For cases involving the City of New York, you have 90 days to file a Notice of Claim. That means if the case involves a bus operated by New York City Transit (or another municipal agency), you must file your claim with the appropriate agency within 90 days of the accident, and a lawsuit must be started within one year and 90 days.
  • Wrongful death: If you or a loved one died in a bus accident, you have only two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit.
  • Minors: If the injured party is a child, the child has three years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.

What should I do if I’m hurt in a bus accident?

The actions you take immediately after a car accident can have a large impact on your claim if you decide to file one later. Thus, it’s best to follow these recommendations:


Call 911 if needed. Later, be sure to have yourself checked out by a doctor, even if you feel fine. It will be good to have a record of this visit if you need it.

Law Enforcement

Call the police. They can help with any injured parties and will create an official report of the accident, which you will need later if you decide to file a bus accident lawsuit.

Gather Contact Information

Gather contact and insurance information from the other parties involved in the accident. Then gather contact information from any witnesses.

Gather Evidence

If you can, take pictures or videos of the accident and its aftermath. Document what happened at the scene. Include pictures of all vehicles and license plates, the road surface, injuries you and your passengers suffered, debris from the accident, and traffic signs.

Don’t Post on Social Media

Anything you post on social media can be used to reduce or deny your compensation by your insurance company. Other liable parties may also try to use it to prove you were at fault or that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.

Talk To A New York Bus Accident Attorney

Talk to an experienced bus accident attorney who can help gather the evidence you need to prove your personal injury claim. Your attorney can also help guide you through your next steps after an accident.

How long do you have to report a bus accident to your insurance?

In New York, you have 30 days from the date of the accident to report it to your insurance company. If you don’t, the insurance company has grounds to deny your claim.

What if I was partly at fault for the accident?

Let’s say you were driving your car when you got into an accident involving the bus, and you think you were partly at fault. Does that mean you can’t recover your damages?

Not necessarily. New York is a “pure comparative negligence” state. That means that a victim can recover for any portion of the damages for which they were not at fault.

If you were 50% responsible for the accident, for example, you can still recover 50 percent of your damages. If you were 90 percent responsible, you can still recover 10 percent of your damages.

There may be a dispute over fault in your case. A New York bus accident attorney can present your side in the best light to improve your chances of receiving the compensation you need.

What types of damages will a bus accident settlement cover?

In general, there are three major types of damages:

  • Compensatory: These are the most common and the most easily identifiable damages. They are paid to “compensate” you for losses like medical expenses, lost wages, and property replacement.
  • General: These cannot be readily tied to a dollar amount. They include pain and suffering, a shortened life expectancy, and mental anguish.
  • Punitive: These are awarded for the sole purpose of punishing the defendant for their conduct.

Settlements consist of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:

  • Medical expenses: You can expect to be compensated for any medical expenses for which you have proof. If you have to have more surgeries, treatments, therapies, and prescriptions in the future, the insurance company or court may offer compensation for these as well.
  • Lost wages: If you missed work because of your injuries, you may be compensated for lost wages. If you can’t return to your job in the future, your future lost wages may also be recoverable.
  • Potential earnings: Similar to lost wages, this is a figure representing what you would have earned had not the accident taken place.
  • Property damage: These damages would help pay to restore or replace your vehicle. If you had other property in the car that was damaged, such as a computer or cell phone, those costs may also be figured into this award.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses relating to the accident: If you have to travel to your medical appointments, you may be able to be reimbursed for mileage, parking fees, rental car fees, and the like. Childcare, cleaning help, personal assistance, and other household services may also be recoverable if you can prove that you were unable to perform these activities while recovering.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering: This refers to any physical pain and discomfort that you suffered during and after the accident. It may include emotional or psychological suffering as well, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Loss of consortium: This is a legal term used to describe the loss of a partner or spouse’s physical companionship, including a sexual relationship. If you or a passenger in your vehicle was injured in such a way that it affects your relationship, you could be eligible for these damages.
  • Loss of enjoyment: If you find that your injuries make it more difficult to enjoy the activities you once enjoyed, or if you can no longer take part in your day-to-day activities, you may be entitled to compensation for these losses.

How do I know if I have a claim worth pursuing?

Check with your bus accident attorney. They will look at things like the seriousness of your injuries, how those injuries are affecting your life, and the evidence available to show the other parties or entities were liable.

You owe it to yourself to get advice from your lawyer. Sometimes, what may seem to be a minor injury to you—such as a backache—could develop into a worse problem down the road. If it affects your ability to do your job, you could be looking at lost wages in the future or even the necessity of finding a different job.

An experienced New York bus accident lawyer understands how these things work, and can advise you on the best course of action to take to be sure that you can properly recover from this accident.

Your Trusted Bus Accident Lawyer in New York

The bus accident attorneys at Chaffin Luhana serve the New York City and New York State area. We are passionate advocates for plaintiffs who have suffered injuries in bus accidents and stand ready to help you pursue compensation to the fullest extent allowed under New York law.

Call us today at 888-480-1123.