What is a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
A bus accident lawsuit is a civil case against negligent parties in an accident that caused you injuries and significant damages. The purpose of the suit is to recover damages to pay for things like medical expenses and to cover lost wages or property damage. You may also be able to sue for wrongful death if a family member died due to a negligent bus accident.
In What Situations Should I File a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
It’s appropriate to file a bus accident lawsuit if someone is negligent in causing the accident that left you with injuries and resulting damages. You may not be sure if negligence was involved, and the laws are numerous and difficult to understand.
The best way to determine if a lawsuit makes sense in your situation is to consult with a bus accident lawyer. They can look over your case, and most firms will do this for free. They will advise you as to whether or not a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence?
Many buses qualify as common carriers under the law. Public transportation is considered a common carrier. Depending on the state, school buses and private transportation companies may also be considered common carriers.
A common carrier is an organization that provides transportation to the public. Commercial airlines and railroads are also common carriers. In terms of negligence, common carriers are different from ordinary people in that they have a higher degree of duty of care to protect passengers.
Everyone has a duty to act reasonably. When someone does not act reasonably, such as a driver running a red light, they may be negligent in causing injuries. Because a common carrier, like a bus company, has a higher duty of care, proving negligence is usually easier.
Laws governing common carriers that do not cross state lines vary by state. In some states, the law only applies when the bus is in operation. In other states, the high duty of care applies outside the bus as well. For instance, if an individual slips and falls in the bus station, they are still under common carrier law.
What Can I Recover in Damages from a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
A lawyer can help you calculate what an accident has cost you, from medical bills to missed wages from work. They cannot guarantee you will recover an exact amount, but they have the experience to make a reasonable estimate. Your damages will be based on:
- Your current medical expenses
- Future expected medical expenses and any long-term care
- Degree of disability you face, and if it is permanent
- Lost wages if you could not return to work immediately
- Lost future earning potential if a disability prevents you from doing the same work
- The costs of fixing property damage if it applies to your situation.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
State laws where the accident occurred can impact your damages amounts as well. Some states limit what you can recover for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Others reduce damages if you have any blame in the accident.
Steps in Filing a Bus Accident Lawsuit
If you plan to sue a private transportation company, such as a tour bus owner, the steps in filing a lawsuit are similar to those for other personal injury cases:
- File a complaint.
Your lawyer will file this document, which serves to outline the allegations and notify the defendants. Once notified, the defendants’ lawyers will have time to investigate and build a case while your lawyer does the same.
During the discovery period in a lawsuit, both sides can share information and hold depositions.
- Negotiate for a settlement.
Most defendants see sense in trying for a settlement because a jury award in a trial is often much larger. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf.
- Go to trial.
If your lawyer cannot get a fair settlement, you can choose to take the suit to trial. Both sides argue their cases in front of a jury. The jury decides if the defendants owe damages and in what amount.
How to File a Public or School Bus Accident Lawsuit
Most states have laws that outline how, when, and to what extent you may sue and recover damages from a government entity. School buses for public schools and public buses usually fall into this category.
State Tort Claims Acts generally allow you to sue, but the process is a little bit different. In most states, you must first file a claim. Some states are strict about how this is done and may bar your claim if you make even a small error in filing. An experienced lawyer can ensure you do it correctly and are able to sue for damages.
When Do I Need to File a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
For lawsuits against private companies or individuals, you must follow the state’s personal injury statute of limitations. This may be between one and six years. With some exceptions, the time limit begins at the time of the accident and resulting injury.
Each state also has a time limit for filing a claim against a government agency or department. These are much shorter, as short as 60 days in some states, so act quickly and contact a lawyer.
If you suffered injuries in a bus accident, and now have mounting medical bills, talk to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit. They can answer your questions, estimate the strength of your case, and help you recover damages.