A Bus Accident Lawyer Answers Some FAQs
Since 2010, bus accidents in the United States have increased over 30 percent. A 2017 statistical change explains some of this increase. Older vehicles, more riders, and more routes are mostly responsible for it.
These wrecks usually cause fatal or near-fatal injuries. Due to the severity of their injuries, and the legal complexity of a bus crash case, lots of victims have lots of questions. We’ll try to answer some of these questions in this post.
What Happens if a Bus Gets in an Accident?
Frequently, a bus accident knocks over an anthill. A bus accident, especially an intercity or tour bus accident, usually injures people from different states or even different countries. Most buses have no passenger restraint systems. So, these injuries are often catastrophic. Additionally, a negligent bus driver usually isn’t financially responsible for damages. The driver’s employer, who was most likely an out-of-state holding company, bears this responsibility, at least in most cases.
What To Do After A Bus Accident?
Without a doubt, reaching out to a bus accident lawyer is the best thing to do after a bus accident. Victims with lawyers get about three times as much money as victims without lawyers.
More money is the biggest reason, but not the only reason. For example, a lawyer can connect a victim with a top-notch doctor, even if the victim doesn’t have any money or insurance. Prompt and proper medical treatment often makes a bigger difference than a big monetary settlement.
How Do I Choose the Best Bus Accident Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers are like gas stations. There’s usually at least one on almost every corner. Any one of these lawyers could probably handle a simple bus accident claim. However, as outlined above, these claims are far from simple.
So, the best bus accident lawyer is experienced, dedicated to victims, and accessible. If a lawyer lacks trial experience, only practices personal injury on the side, or hides behind less-experienced associates or non-lawyer paralegals, cross that lawyer off your list.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
Driver error, usually aggressive driving or operator impairment, causes over 98 percent of the bus crashes in the United States. Passenger buses are so big and so hard to control that a small error makes a big difference.
Speed is a good example. If a sedan driver takes a curve a little too fast, that driver usually soden’t cause a crash. If a bus driver takes a curve a little too fast, the driver usually loses control of the vehicle.
What Are Some Different Types of Bus Accidents?
Other than airplanes, buses carry more passengers than any other mode of mass transportation. Some common bus crashes include:
- Public Bus Accidents: Large municipal buses often travel on surface streets that were designed for much smaller vehicles. So, bus drivers have a hard time navigating these buses, and their sight lines are limited.
- Greyhound Bus Accidents: Many intercity and party bus drivers are behind the wheel early in the morning and/or late at night. People are naturally fatigued at these times, even if they’re working on a full night’s rest. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
- School Bus Accidents: These drivers, more than other kinds of bus drivers, often wear two hats. They must operate large buses safely on small side streets. At the same time, they must also monitor sometimes unruly children. Such multitasking behind the wheel often has disastrous consequences.
Other kinds of bus crashes include party bus wrecks and private bus, like athletic team bus, wrecks.
What Common Injuries Are Suffered in Bus Accidents?
Internal injuries, broken bones, and head injuries are the most common bus accident injuries in the United States. The extreme jostling motion in a bus crash causes most of these injuries.
For example, if a bus tumbles off the road, as victims are thrown about, their internal organs grind and bump against each other. Even a mild abrasion usually bleeds badly. These organs have no protective skin layers. As a result, many victims have lost about a fifth of their blood by the time they reach a hospital.
How Do I Make a Legal Claim After a Bus Accident?
To obtain compensation, a bus accident lawyer must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Because they’re commercial drivers, in most states, bus drivers have a higher duty of care than other motorists. So, it’s easier to prove negligence, or a lack of care, in these cases.
Significantly, there’s a big difference between easy and easier. Many legal defenses, such as comparative fault, could apply. Furthermore, insurance companies have almost unlimited resources. Since they earn over $1 trillion a year, they can easily afford bulldog defense lawyers.
Evidence in a bus accident or other personal injury claim usually includes medical bills, the police accident report, and witness statements. Electronic evidence, like surveillance camera footage, is admissible as well.
Who Do You Sue in a School Bus Accident?
Victims must sue the school bus owner. The respondent superior rule states that employers are financially responsible for accidents their employees cause during the course and scope of employment. Bus drivers are employees for negligence purposes even if they are non-employees for tax and other purposes. Additionally, if a driver is behind the wheel, that driver is acting within the course and scope of employment.
Sometimes, private companies own school buses. Charter and private school buses are always privately owned. Moreover, many school districts farm out bus services to private contractors. More on these lawsuits below.
Generally, a school district owned the bus. Suing city hall adds additional layers to a case that’s already complex.
Official immunity, the same doctrine that protects police officers in fatal shooting cases, sometimes applies in bus crash cases. Moreover, before an attorney files a lawsuit, an attorney must file a notice of claim. This notice triggers an official investigation which, hopefully, ends with a reasonable settlement offer. If not, an attorney can file a civil action.
Who is Liable for Bus Accidents?
As outlined above, under the respondeat superior rule, the company that owned the bus is financially responsible for damages. These cases are additionally complex, so stay sharp and strap yourselves in.
Usually, out-of-state companies own tour, intercity, and other such buses. Additionally, a liability waiver is usually buried somewhere in the fine print of a terms of service agreement.
When is a Bus Driver Liable for an Injury?
Bus drivers are legally responsible for accidents if they breach their duty of care. Typically, bus drivers have a duty of utmost care. They must take affirmative steps to avoid accidents.
Intersection collisions illustrate the difference between a duty of reasonable care, which applies to most drivers, and a duty of utmost care. Noncommercial drivers can usually proceed through intersections on green lights. Commercial drivers must usually at least slow down and ensure the intersection is clear before they move forward.
When Was Frida Kahlo’s Bus Accident?
Frida Kahlo was involved in a bus accident in Mexico City on September 17, 1925. The accident left her with several serious injuries, including a broken spine, a broken collarbone, and several fractured ribs. She also suffered from a punctured uterus, which left her unable to bear children. The injuries she sustained in the accident would plague her for the rest of her life and significantly impact her health and well-being.
How Can a Lawyer Help With Your Bus Accident Claim?
Initially, a lawyer analyzes a case and files the correct paperwork. Moreover a lawyer gives victims solid legal advice through the whole process.
Most importantly, lawyers are strong advocates and good negotiators. You can be sure the insurance company will have a lawyer. Taking on insurance company lawyers on your own is like a middle school football team playing an NFL team. These victims nearly always walk away with nothing.
How Does a Bus Accident Claim Work?
If liability, damages, and other key issues are undisputed, a bus accident claim might settle almost immediately. But these claims are very complex and such disputes are common. When negotiations stall, attorneys usually file legal paperwork to jumpstart them.
If a case goes to court, it usually settles during mediation. A third-party professional mediator meets with both sides and helps them compromise and reach an agreement.
Why Do I Need a Bus Accident Lawyer?
Quite simply, if a victim wants compensation and justice, the victim needs a bus accident lawyer. Insurance company lawyers don’t care about what is fair. They do whatever it takes to reduce or deny compensation, and to deny liability for the crash.
If you don’t have a bus accident lawyer, you’ll probably be financially responsible for all medical bills and other accident costs. Furthermore, since the bus driver gets off scot free, the driver will most likely operate negligently and injure other passengers.
How Much Will Hiring a Bus Accident Attorney Cost?
Usually nothing, at least upfront. Most bus accident attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. As payment, they accept a small percentage of a settlement or judgment. Attorneys usually front other litigation costs as well, such as expert witness fees.
How Much Can You Get From a Bus Accident?
The settlement value, which is a combination of medical bills and other economic losses, and noneconomic damages, is usually the starting point for settlement negotiations. These negotiations always involve some give and take. A good lawyer ensures that the other side does most of the giving, and the victim does most of the taking.
How Long Does a Bus Accident Settlement Take?
Longer than you think. Courts are very slow. Once a case gets filed, the first of several preliminary hearings may not be for many months. Later, if the parties get into an argument, perhaps during discovery, the slow process grinds to a halt until the judge resolves that dispute.
The good news is that most bus accident claims settle out of court. These resolutions end cases earlier. They also give the victim more control over the outcome.
When is it Too Late to Get a Lawyer for a Bus Accident?
In most states, the statute of limitations is two years in a negligence case. Once the two years expire, the victim loses any legal right to obtain compensation.
Sometimes, there’s a snooze bar on the statute of limitations alarm clock. Assume that, during a bus crash, diesel fuel leaks, exposing Phil to high levels of benzene fumes. These fumes often cause leukemia and other long-term chronic health problems which, in many cases, don’t surface for decades.
In this situation, Phil must file a legal action within two years of his discovery of his illness, not within two years of the wreck.