How to File a Bus Accident Claim

Posted on February 8, 2024 in Personal Injury

Millions of people rely on buses daily for transportation. Whether it is to school, a job, or a long intercity trip, people place their lives and safety in the hands of a bus driver and the bus company. Thankfully, most of these trips end without incident. However, each day, there are an average of almost 200 bus accidents across the United States. Some of these accidents can cause serious injuries or even death.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a bus accident, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation for your injuries. First, you must file a bus accident claim against the bus company. This process can be complex and contentious, as the responsible party may deny that they were to blame or try to pay you less than you deserve for your injuries.

One of your first calls should be to an experienced bus accident lawyer, who will review your legal options and take action on your behalf.

Types of Bus Accidents

File a Bus Accident ClaimIn a given year, there may be between 60,000 and 70,000 bus crashes throughout the United States, and statistics show roughly 14,000 bus accident injuries. These injuries may occur on:

  • Municipal buses
  • Intercity buses
  • School buses
  • Charter buses
  • Shuttle buses
  • Tour buses

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

The situation with bus safety has been deteriorating in recent years. The current employment boom in the United States means bus companies struggle to find experienced drivers to fill their openings. Sometimes, they may need to turn to inexperienced drivers or those with a borderline safety record, putting you at risk.

Here are some common causes of bus accidents throughout the United States:

  • Operator inexperience
  • Speeding
  • Failure to properly check blind spots when changing lanes or pulling over
  • Carelessly pulling into traffic from a bus stop
  • Distracted drivers
  • Poor bus maintenance
  • Illegal turns

People Who May Suffer Injuries in Bus Accidents

You may have suffered an injury in a bus accident in one of several ways:

  • You were a passenger on a bus that was involved in the accident.
  • You were a motorist or a passenger in a car involved in an accident with a bus.
  • You are the loved one of a pedestrian who was struck by the bus (filing a wrongful death claim if the accident victim died).

Common Injuries Suffered in Bus Accidents

Just because you were in a much larger vehicle does not mean you are injury-proof. Because buses are so large, they may flip during an accident, causing severe injuries. There are no seatbelts or restraints on the bus, so you can be seriously injured when it rolls over or drives off the side of the road. Even if you are on a city bus, the sudden movement of the vehicle can cause you to fall and hit something. The crash can also cause your body to move awkwardly, resulting in a neck or back injury.

Bus accident injuries may include:

Every year, thousands of people suffer an injury in bus accidents across the country. Some of these injuries are serious and require extensive medical care.

What to Do After You Have Suffered an Injury in a Bus Accident

Initially, you should do everything possible to be proactive and care for your health, and you should be aware that some bus accident injuries may not be apparent immediately. For example, you may not begin to experience symptoms of whiplash until days after the accident. No matter what, you should seek medical attention following the accident so the doctor can diagnose and treat your injuries. They will document your medical situation as records you can use in a later claim or lawsuit.

Contact a Lawyer to Get Legal Help

After seeking medical attention, you should contact an experienced attorney to represent you in the legal process. You are often up against a defendant who has deep pockets and sees many claims like yours. They will only take you seriously if you have a tough and aggressive attorney fighting for you. Building a bus accident claim may take time, effort, and skill, and you need a lawyer to stand up for you, especially if you are dealing with physical injuries.

The Common Carrier Doctrine in Bus Accident Cases

There may be a different standard of proof in a bus accident case, but you must still demonstrate that the defendant was negligent in causing your injuries. They may have a heightened duty of care, making it easier for you to prove negligence.

Most bus companies are common carriers. In personal injury law, the common carrier doctrine applies to those who hold themselves out to transport the general public in exchange for compensation. The common carrier doctrine may apply to:

  • Buses
  • Airplanes
  • Taxis
  • Ferries

The common carrier doctrine states that the bus company must exercise the “highest degree of care.” They must use the utmost care, vigilance, and diligence to ensure the safe transport of passengers.

How to Prove Negligence in a Bus Accident Case

Even though there is a higher standard of care, you must still prove your case to qualify for financial compensation. You are not automatically entitled to a settlement check because you suffered an injury on a bus. You must still put forth evidence that shows that the bus company was negligent and it caused your injuries.

Your lawyer must investigate your accident before they can file a claim on your behalf and may compile sources of evidence, such as:

  • Witness statements from people who saw the accident
  • Traffic or dashcam footage
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • The bus company’s report of the accident
  • The results of an investigation by a government agency
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert

Damages in a Bus Accident Lawsuit

Then, your attorney will estimate the value of your case so you know how much to seek in damages. Your bus accident settlement should compensate you for the economic and non-economic damages that you have suffered. Your bus accident compensation will include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Emotional distress

If you are suing a private bus company, you may qualify for punitive damages, especially if the jury wants to send a message to the defendant for gross negligence or recklessness. You cannot get punitive damages if you are suing the government.

How to Sue a Private Bus Company

If a private bus company is to blame for your injuries, you must file a claim or lawsuit for financial compensation. The bus company may be self-insured or have a policy through an insurance carrier, and you can file an insurance claim directly before you even file a lawsuit in court. Alternatively, you can go to court and file a lawsuit against the bus company.

If you have filed an insurance claim, your attorney will work to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. The insurance company may decide to accept liability and make you a settlement offer or deny the claim entirely, either claiming that you have failed to provide enough evidence or you were to blame for the accident.

Suppose the insurance company has made you a settlement offer. In that case, it will likely be too low, and you will continue negotiating. Your attorney may use lawsuit threats to make the insurance company more reasonable in settlement negotiations.

The Bus Accident Lawsuit Process

You may have begun the legal process if the insurance company does not give you the money you deserve. You always have the right to file a lawsuit and let the jury decide whether you deserve financial compensation.

The bus and insurance companies will defend the lawsuit in court, while your lawyer will continue to build your case through the discovery process. Here, you may get a treasure trove of information from the bus company that can include:

  • Internal communications relating to safety
  • Any data from an electronic data event recorder (the “black box”)
  • The maintenance and inspection records for the bus
  • The driver’s employment and safety record
  • Drug and alcohol test results from the driver, both after the accident and during their employment

In addition, your lawyer can question the bus driver and other bus company employees under oath in a deposition. You may hear the defendants’ story in their own words, which can give more information for your case. If your lawyer has obtained helpful evidence in discovery, it may push the defendant to be more forthcoming in settlement negotiations.

Suing a Public Transportation Authority Has Different Rules

Suing a Public Transportation AuthorityIf you suffered an injury on a bus belonging to a public transportation authority, there may be different guidelines that you must be aware of very early in the legal process. The most important rule you need to consider is that you may have less time to file a claim because suing the government almost always has a shorter statute of limitations. You may only receive financial compensation if you file your claim quickly.

You are often required to present your claim to the government before you can sue directly in court, and they may decide whether to offer you a settlement or deny your claim entirely. Then, you can only go to court after a specific time has passed.

It is still possible to sue the government even though some states will limit the damages you can receive. Generally, you cannot obtain punitive damages in a lawsuit against a government agency. They waive sovereign immunity when they allow you to file a lawsuit, but not to the extent you can get punitive damages.

Lawsuits Against the Government Can Still Be Difficult

Just because you are suing the government does not mean you will have an easier time in a lawsuit. Government attorneys can be as challenging as insurance companies and can be hard-nosed and force you to fight. Remember that the government sees a lot of claims, and they can be very jaded and skeptical, even for cases with merit. You need a lawyer to deal with the government the same as you will when filing a lawsuit that an insurance company defends.

It Costs No Money Upfront to Hire a Bus Accident Lawyer

Cost should never be why you do not hire a bus accident lawyer. You do not have to pay if you do not win your case; you only pay an attorney from the proceeds of your claim if you receive any money. A lawyer will never bill you throughout the case, and their share comes directly from your settlement or award if you get one.

Allow a Bus Accident Lawyer to Evaluate Your Legal Options

After a bus accident and injuries, never wait to seek legal help to ensure you understand your rights and options. A bus accident lawyer can provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. They can evaluate your case, determine liability, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Bob Boatman, Attorney for Bus Accident

Robert W. Boatman, Bus Accident Lawyer

One of the main reasons to hire a bus accident lawyer is their knowledge of personal injury law. They have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations that apply to bus accidents and can use this knowledge to build a strong case on your behalf. Whether your accident was caused by reckless driving, mechanical failure, or negligence, a skilled attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and gather evidence to support your claim.

Another advantage of working with a bus accident lawyer is their ability to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts or deny claims altogether, leaving accident victims without the compensation they need to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. An experienced attorney can handle these negotiations and ensure that your rights are protected.

Additionally, a bus accident lawyer can help you understand the full extent of your damages. They can work with medical experts to assess your injuries, determine the long-term impact on your life, and calculate the appropriate compensation amount. This thorough evaluation ensures that you are not shortchanged by insurance companies or other parties involved in the accident.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury lawyer today to protect your rights and secure a better future.