When bus drivers and others drive negligently, passengers may suffer extremely serious injuries that require ongoing medical treatment. Many buses, including commuter buses, tour buses, sightseeing buses, and school buses, do not have seatbelts and other safety restraints to prevent an accident victim’s body from moving around in a collision. Therefore, passengers may suffer debilitating injuries if the bus strikes another vehicle—or another vehicle strikes the bus, which makes understanding how to file a bus accident claim important.
If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a bus accident, you may have legal options. An experienced and compassionate Edmonton and Alberta bus accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident and explain what those options are. In some instances, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the bus driver, bus company, or municipality’s insurer.
If you are eligible to file such a claim, your lawyer can do so on your behalf and pursue fair compensation. Moreover, if the insurance company will not offer you the full damages you need for your bus accident injuries, your lawyer can file a timely lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion in court.
Types of Bus Accidents
A serious accident may occur when bus drivers and other drivers behave recklessly or negligently. In some cases, the bus driver might negligently strike the back of another vehicle in a classic rear-end collision. These accidents typically happen near intersections or highways when traffic slows down abruptly, and the at-fault driver fails to leave sufficient stopping distance.
T-bone or broadside accidents happen when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of an adjacent vehicle. In a bus accident scenario, the bus driver might negligently run a red light or stop sign and strike the side of a vehicle travelling on an adjacent roadway. At other times, the bus driver may proceed through an intersection only to sustain an impact from an adjacent driver who ran an intersection stoplight.
Other bus accidents involve head-on collisions, where the front of a bus strikes the front of another vehicle on a dual-lane highway. These accidents usually happen when a bus driver or someone else becomes distracted—or drinks and drives.
Finally, some bus accidents involve a side impact, where the side of a bus contacts the side of another vehicle travelling in the same direction. These accidents usually happen on multi-lane roadways where the at-fault driver negligently veers into the other driver’s travel lane.
If you suffered injuries in any of these bus accidents, an experienced bus accident lawyer can help you file the necessary claim with the appropriate insurance company. Your lawyer will then advocate on your behalf and pursue the compensatory damages you deserve.
Common Causes of Bus Crashes
Many bus accidents happen when bus drivers behave in a negligent manner. However, these accidents can also happen when other drivers behave negligently. Finally, some bus accidents result from defective repair work or bus parts that malfunction.
Some of the most common causes of bus accidents include:
- Bus driver negligence: Many bus accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles carelessly and recklessly. In some instances, a bus driver might violate a rule of the road, such as by speeding, failing to use a turn signal, failing to yield the right-of-way, or tailgating another vehicle. When bus drivers engage in any of these negligent maneuvers, they increase their chances of striking another vehicle and causing their passengers to suffer serious injuries.
- Distracted bus operation: When bus drivers become distracted, they can cause a serious accident. For example, a negligent bus driver might be fiddling with a GPS device or texting and driving, diverting their attention away from the road and missing an approaching vehicle.
- Intoxicated bus operation: Under most circumstances, a vehicle driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, commercial vehicle operators, including bus drivers, must often follow a higher standard of care. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher. If a police officer determines that a bus driver is intoxicated, they may face criminal charges for DUI. If they ultimately sustain a conviction, they may incur fines, jail time, and other penalties. Moreover, if they caused an accident which led to injuries, both they and their insurance company may be responsible for paying damages.
- Another driver’s negligence: Bus accidents may occur even when bus drivers operate their vehicles in a safe and careful manner. In those instances, another vehicle driver behaves negligently or recklessly under the circumstances and collides with the bus. The other driver, for example, may violate a traffic law, engage in distracted driving, or operate their vehicle while intoxicated.
- Negligent repair work: Although many bus accidents result from driver error, not all do. In some situations, these accidents result from negligent or defective repair work. Bus repair facilities have a duty to make all repairs in a safe, careful, and workmanlike manner at all times. When they fail to do so and a bus malfunctions on the road, causing an accident, the repair facility may be responsible for the resulting injuries and damages.
- Defective bus parts: Finally, some bus accidents result from defective bus parts, including braking components and steering mechanisms. Bus part manufacturers have a duty to design their products safely and carefully. They must also test their products before making them available to the public. When bus parts malfunction out on the road and an accident occurs, as a result, the injured bus passenger can file a product liability claim with the bus manufacturer—or some other entity within the product distribution chain.
If you suffered injuries in a bus accident resulting from one of these types of negligence, you should speak with an experienced bus accident lawyer right away. Your lawyer can review police reports, speak with eyewitnesses, or hire an expert accident reconstructionist, to determine how your accident happened. If you’re eligible to file a claim, your lawyer can assist you throughout the settlement process and work to pursue the maximum compensation available in your case.
Who is Responsible for a Bus Accident?
Bus drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and carefully at all times. When drivers breach this duty of care and cause an accident which leads to injuries, they may be legally liable for the accident.
Similarly, the bus companies and municipalities that employ these drivers may share some responsibility if the bus driver caused the accident during the scope of their employment. Finally, other vehicle drivers may cause or contribute to an accident when they operate their own vehicles unreasonably under the circumstances.
A bus accident lawyer in your area can review the circumstances of your accident with you, along with the police report and any eyewitness statements, to identify all potentially responsible parties. Your lawyer can then file the appropriate claim or lawsuit to pursue the monetary compensation you deserve.
Injuries that Passengers Suffer in Bus Accidents
Bus passengers can suffer extremely serious injuries in an accident, especially if the bus does not have seatbelts. The impact force in a bus crash may cause a passenger’s body to move back and forth in their seat or from side to side very abruptly.
In a particularly forceful impact, the passenger’s body might strike something in the bus, such as the back headrest, window, or seat in front of them. These movements may cause the passenger to suffer a serious injury, such as a broken bone, soft tissue contusion, traumatic head or brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis injury, or abrasion. These injuries may require medical treatment, including consultation with a primary care doctor, emergency room follow-up, surgical procedures, or physical therapy.
As soon as possible after a bus accident, you should go to an urgent care center or emergency room for follow-up. The medical provider on duty there can order the necessary imaging studies, including X-rays and MRIs, to render an accurate medical diagnosis. The doctor can also refer you for follow-up treatment, such as with an orthopedic doctor or another specialist. You should be sure to attend all your medical appointments and refrain from discharging yourself from medical care.
While you focus your attention on recovering from your bus accident injuries, a knowledgeable bus accident lawyer can begin gathering the necessary documents to prove your case and recover the damages you need.
Filing an Insurance Claim for Damages
The first step to recovering monetary compensation after a bus accident is to file a personal injury claim with the appropriate insurance company. In most instances, your lawyer will file a claim with the insurance company for the at-fault bus driver, bus company, municipality, or other legal entity. Your lawyer can determine the appropriate insurance company to engage in settlement negotiations.
The claims-filing process begins when your lawyer gathers various documents and assembles them into a settlement demand package, along with a demand letter, for the insurance company adjuster’s review.
Typical documents to include with the demand package include:
- Medical records from treating providers
- Lost wage documents from an accident victim’s employer
- A victim impact statement
- Photographs of property damage to the bus and other involved vehicles
- Photographs of injuries
Once the insurance company reviews these documents, it will determine whether to accept or reject liability for the accident. If the insurance company accepts fault, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations with the insurance adjuster and zealously advocate for your legal and monetary interests.
In most instances, initial insurance company offers are very low and far below the actual claim value. This is because insurance companies want to settle their cases as quickly and cheaply as possible, thereby saving themselves significant money. After all, insurance companies may lose significant money when they have to pay out large settlements, jury verdicts, and arbitration awards to satisfy bus accident claims.
After your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company several times, the case will settle or proceed to litigation. Even after filing a lawsuit and beginning the litigation process, your lawyer may still continue negotiating with the adjuster—and can potentially settle your claim. However, if the case does not resolve by the end of litigation, the parties will usually take their case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding.
In either instance, someone other than the parties will decide the appropriate damages to award the accident victim in the case. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer or litigate your case to a conclusion in the court system.
Monetary Compensation in a Bus Accident Claim
As part of a civil bus accident claim, accident victims can recover various damages. All bus accident cases are different, and not all accident victims will recover the same types and amounts of monetary damages. The damages that a bus accident victim may recover will usually depend upon the severity of their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, and whether or not they missed work time due to their injuries.
Some of the most common types of damages that bus accident victims recover include compensation for lost earnings, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of earning capacity, permanent disfigurement or disability, loss of life enjoyment, loss of the ability to use a body part, and loss of spousal companionship and consortium.
Your lawyer can determine which of these damages you may recover in your bus accident claim and aggressively advocate for your monetary and legal interests at all times.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in a bus accident, you must seek experienced legal representation right away. Bus accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a claim or lawsuit for damages. If they file their lawsuit belatedly, they will not be eligible for monetary damages.
A knowledgeable Edmonton personal injury lawyer in your area can immediately file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and begin advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer will help you maximize your recoverable compensation and bring your case to a prompt and efficient conclusion.