Everything you Need to Know About Bus Accident Lawsuits

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Bus accidents usually happen due to a collision with another vehicle, guardrails, bridges, trees, or any other stationary object. Most of the time, the cause of the accident is found to be an error on the bus driver’s part, negligence of the bus company, equipment failure or mechanical problems, harsh weather, or carelessness of the other vehicle’s driver. No matter how it happened, a bus accident can be much more dangerous than any other type of vehicle accident because of the big size of buses and the number of persons they usually carry. Therefore, you should have a clear idea of how to proceed in case you are injured in a bus accident.

Bus Accident Injuries

Sometimes a passenger can get injured due to slip and fall inside the bus. This can be because of slippery conditions due to rain or snow, or because someone spilled a drink inside the bus. In any case, the bus service provider is required to take care of such aspects and keep the entryways and exits free from all elements that can cause slip and fall accidents. 

Bus accident injuries can range from “soft” or minor injuries that heal quickly, to “hard” or major injuries that can be permanent or potentially life-threatening. Soft injuries can include bumps, bruises, scrapes, minor cuts, whiplash, sprains and strains. Hard injuries can be more serious such as broken bones, spine injuries, herniated disks, severed limbs, permanent scarring, brain injuries, concussion, and any other fatal injury.

In the case of the bus accident happening due to the negligence or error of the other vehicle’s driver, you can file a personal injury claim against the guilty party to seek compensation for your damages. You should hire an experienced lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault driver so that you can get the maximum compensation for your damages. A professional personal injury lawyer would also help you file a claim and get the right compensation if the bus driver or the bus service company was responsible for the accident.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Most public transportation buses are managed and operated by state and federal governments. For instance, city administration usually owns the public buses whereas the local school district would be managing the school buses. As government bodies in the US have special protections against lawsuits, known as “Sovereign Immunity”, filing a claim for your losses in the case of a bus accident can be a bit of a complicated process. However, you should note that Sovereign Immunity only prevents the government and/or its departments, subdivisions, and affiliate agencies from being sued without their consent. This means that you can file a bus accident lawsuit against a government-run transportation agency as well but the process can become a bit complex.

Injury claims in such cases will have to be made under the rules of the Tort Claims Act for federal transportation agencies. This is very different from filing a personal injury claim against a private entity or an individual. Filing a lawsuit against government agencies requires filling special forms and following strict deadlines. If you miss the specific deadline to file the claim, or if the details furnished in the forms are found to be inaccurate, your claim could be rejected and you might lose your right to compensation for the damages. That is why you should always consult with a reliable and experienced lawyer to help you with a bus accident lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations

All states in the United States have firm deadlines to file and resolve personal injury lawsuits. You are required to file a lawsuit against the guilty party within the period specified by the statute of limitations. Usually, this could be one to five years for filing a lawsuit against non-public transportation agencies depending upon the rules of the state, while it could be just 30 to 60 days for filing a lawsuit against government bodies. No matter how serious your injuries are, you should always follow the statute of limitations deadlines to be eligible for claiming compensation for the damages.

You should also be aware of the common carrier laws in the state and see if the negligence of the bus company was the reason behind the accident. All individuals and agencies that are licensed to transport passengers for a fee are categorized as common carriers, which means that they are responsible to follow all the federal and state laws pertaining to that. The common carrier laws require transport companies and individuals to maintain a very high standard to ensure the safety of their passengers. This is known as the duty of care.

Generally, the duty of care for common carriers includes:

  • Ensuring that the entryways and exits are safe for the passengers, with good lighting and no obstructions
  • Taking appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of the passengers
  • Employing qualified and trained bus drivers only
  • Maintaining the equipment and mechanical parts of the vehicle in good condition
  • Monitoring and fixing any flaws in the vehicle design

If the bus company violates any of such clauses that come under the duty of care, then they can be held liable for the bus accident because of negligence. Your lawyer can help to prove the negligence of the bus company or driver that led to the accident and thereby getting the rightful compensation for your damages.

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