There are many types of buses: Greyhound buses, city buses, tour buses, school and college buses (including sports team buses), church group buses, and buses that transport workers, and each play a role in our commerce. Injury or death can occur as a passenger in any type of bus, but because there are so many categories, nailing down the ownership, insurance, and management of the bus, are complexities for an experienced attorney to unravel. According to Federal Motor Vehicle Standards, a bus is defined as a motorized vehicle capable of carrying 10 or more passengers.
The NHTSA reports that approximately 134 people die in school-vehicle-related crashes each year. Other bus tragedies that have made the news recently include church bus fatalities and tour bus tragedies.
Most bus transport operates under strict state and federal licensing regulations, though it is usually state law that determines which company or entity is liable for damages in the event of an accident, which may include:
- Immediate and future medical costs
- Loss of wages
- Loss of future income due to permanent disabilities
- Lifetime care and support in the event of a serious injury such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury
- Punitive damages, if the accident is proven to be the result of negligence
Bus Accidents are Becoming More and More Common
Cities all over the country have extensive busing systems to get people where they need to go. While taking the bus is more affordable and easier on the environment than driving a car, there is still a chance that you might be involved with an accident, whether you were riding the bus or in another vehicle. Unfortunately, bus accidents can be very serious because of the size of the vehicle, and the fact that passengers are not wearing seat belts.
If you were the victim of a bus accident and suffered serious injuries or need extensive car repairs as a result, then you might be entitled to compensation. It might sound daunting to take on a bus company or your local municipality. They will no doubt have high-priced attorneys on their side. However, you can get a lawyer to fight on your behalf and protect your rights while getting the compensation you deserve. An attorney that specializes in bus accidents will look at every facet of your case to determine who is at fault so that you can go after the party that should be making things right for you.
Determining Liability in a Bus Accident
Figuring out who is liable in a bus accident can be tricky. Yes, you can say that a bus struck you or caused an accident in some way, but liability is not just about who was driving. It can also be the bus company itself that is at fault, or the company that is hired to provide maintenance services.
You might not realize it if you are a veteran driver, but there is always a lot happening on the road that you are monitoring as second nature. There are other cars, road signs, pedestrians, and any number of possible distractions. If you get in a bus accident, the operator may be at fault. However, if you are in a construction zone, then who is to say that the worker holding the stop and go sign did not make a mistake? Or, the bus may have tried avoiding someone else driving recklessly that caused it to strike you.
A good bus accident lawyer will investigate your accident fully to get a complete picture as to what happened. This will involve checking traffic cameras, police reports, examining the vehicles involved, and taking witness statements. They can then determine who is at fault and where to request compensation.
It is important for an attorney to have extensive knowledge of not just what happened in an accident, but also how local laws and regulations might apply to the case. This will allow them to determine who, if anyone, violated those laws and directly or indirectly caused the accident and your injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit in a Bus Accident Case
There are several possible defendants in a bus accident case. The most obvious is the operator of the bus, especially if it is apparent that they drove recklessly or broke traffic laws during the incident.
However, there are other parties that must be looked at as well. The bus company should have extensive liability insurance to cover itself for these types of situations. In most jurisdictions and states this is required by law. So, your attorney may be able to get compensation from their insurance providers or through the courts if the company did not provide proper training or took other actions that resulted in the accident.
If a third party is contracted by the company to provide maintenance services, they may be at fault as well. If they recently inspected the brakes, for example, which have since proved to be faulty at the time of the accident, then they likely will be held liable.
Insurance providers will do everything within their power to avoid paying out for accidents. Your attorney can negotiate with them and make it clear that you deserve compensation for your medical bills and lost wages as a result of the accident. In most cases, your attorney can obtain a satisfactory result from the insurance company. When negotiations fail, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to secure your compensation.
Types of Compensation
There are several types of awards that you can receive if you are successful with your bus accident claim. Some take the form of direct compensation for costs that you have incurred. Others are compensation for inconveniences that you have suffered because of your injuries and the trauma you faced. Some of the most common include:
- Lost wages due to being unable to work
- Impairment of your ability to earn a living
- The loss of a loved one
- Long-term disability related to your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills, such as hospitalization, surgery, and rehabilitation
- Cost for repairing or replacing your vehicle, as well as car rental
Comparative negligence means that several parties share the blame for the accident. This could include you, depending on the facts of the case. If you are deemed by a jury to be partially at fault, then your potential award will be reduced based on how much they deem you to be at fault. For example, if the jury thinks that you are 25% liable and they award you $100,000, then your total award will be $75,000.
Statute of Limitations for Bus Accident Filings
A bus accident will lead to one or all of three possible consequences: wrongful death, injury, property damage. When it comes to a bus accident, the deadlines for either settling your case or filing legal action against the wrongdoers can vary depending upon the situation. There are several factors to consider, such as: age of the plaintiff, type of injury suffered, and whether the bus company is a private or governmental entity. It is important to contact a knowledgeable Oregon bus accident attorney as quickly as possible to discuss your case.
Get Help With Your Bus Accident Claim
Being involved in a bus accident or having a loved one die as a result of one, is traumatic enough. You do not need the stress and frustration that comes with fighting insurance companies and their lawyers on your own. Hire a dedicated and experienced Portland bus accident lawyer to fight for your rights and to get you the best result possible for your case.