Just like in any thriving city, many Boca Raton residents, students, and commuters rely on public transportation to travel throughout the city. Each month nearly 800,000 people ride Palm Tran buses. It’s a relatively safe transportation mode, but accidents still happen. When a bus is involved, its weight and mass enhance its capacity to cause fatalities. Buses also cause catastrophic injuries, often leaving the injured person with a lifetime of medical treatment, lost earnings capacity, and permanent disability.
The 2016 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts data show that city, cross country, and local school buses contribute to the national vehicle accident mortality rate. NHTSA’s 10-year study, School-Transportation-Related Crashes, documents an average of 128 fatalities annually. 8 to 13 year-olds comprised 35 percent of child-pedestrians killed. In bus/car accidents, twice as many children died in the private passenger vehicle than in the bus. As with vehicle accidents in general, driver error is usually a major factor in these tragic events.
At Sibley Dolman Law Group, we work hard to make negligent bus drivers and their employers pay for the damages they cause. We understand Florida’s transportation statutes and complex legal issues. Our attorneys have devoted our firm’s time and resources to get fair compensation for our clients. We do whatever is necessary to hold bus companies accountable for the injuries they cause.
Our Case Results
Our attorneys have recovered millions in settlements and judgments for our clients. When possible, we’ve resolved cases through informal negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution forums such as mediation or arbitration. From the moment we take on our clients’ cases, we prepare as though trial is always an option. When necessary, we’ve had no problem presenting our clients’ evidence before a judge and jury. While we can’t guarantee an outcome as each case is unique, we can proudly share some of our firm’s case results:
- $1.75 million: A semi-truck driver struck our client’s vehicle on I-75. She sustained a rotator cuff tear and a traumatic brain injury. Evidence uncovered during discovery revealed that poor truck maintenance contributed to the accident. Before our $1.75 million case resolution, the insurance company had refused to increase their $265,000 offer.
- $1 million: Our client sustained a shoulder tear, a C4-C5 disc herniation, and a concussion. After 14 months of litigation, Sibley Dolman Law Group resolved the case before trial.
- $750,000: Our client received a traumatic brain injury when a driver rear-ended her vehicle.
Typical Bus Accident Injuries
Because buses are heavier and larger than most passenger vehicles, they usually protect passengers from serious injury. Unfortunately, when a bus collides with pedestrians, bicyclists, or occupied private passenger vehicles, those individuals don’t have those same protections. Bus accidents don’t occur that often; but when they do, they can cause catastrophic injuries with life-altering consequences:
- Disc injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe muscle tears and strains
- Shattered and fractured bones
- Traumatic amputations
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Diminished internal organ function
- Severe Burns
- Wrongful death
Who Can Be at Fault in a Bus Accident?
When a bus accident occurs, the driver is often a chief negligent party. A bus driver’s negligent actions involve distracted driving, reckless operation, driving under the influence, and others. Because a bus is a commercial vehicle, however, the person behind the wheel is just one of the potentially responsible parties:
- Employer: A bus transportation company is often responsible as they control the driver’s actions. If an employer knows an employee has a bad driving record, they may also have negligent hiring and negligent entrustment liability exposure.
- Bus Owner: The owner of a leased bus has liability exposure when improper maintenance or defects cause an accident.
- Maintenance Contractor: In a recent Palm Tran bus accident, a tire contractor failed to tighten the lug nut. When the tire later came off, it caused an accident. Fortunately, the accident caused only minor injuries, but it’s an example of how maintenance contractors contribute to an accident.
- Bus Manufacturer: When a bus defect contributes to an accident, the manufacturer may be held liable.
What Are Recoverable Damages for Bus Accident Injuries?
Injury settlements or judgments have several components, with economic damages and general damages are the most common. Florida statute 768.72 also allows a punitive damage award if a plaintiff shows clear and convincing evidence of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Economic damages include the costs of current and future medical and other expenses:
- Current and future income losses
- Current and future medical expenses
- Mobility devices and prosthesis
- Physical and emotional therapy
- Medical transportation expenses
- Replacement services
General damages are difficult to calculate, as they rely on an injured person’s non-economic losses from the injury. It considers how injury complications affect an injured person’s life, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Changes in spousal and family relationships
- Loss of functions
- Scars and disfigurement
- Permanent limitations and disabilities
How Do Liable Parties Avoid Paying?
Responsible parties in auto accidents must show compliance with state auto insurance laws, so they usually report claims to their insurance company. Other involved parties are often reluctant to get involved unless a lawsuit forces them to. Insurance claim departments often try to settle for a low figure. If their negotiation strategies don’t work, their defense attorneys rely on liability and damage defenses:
- No Negligence: The defendants refuse to accept liability for an accident.
- Comparative Negligence: Florida is a pure comparative fault state. If a defendant proves a plaintiff’s negligence, the court reduces the award by their negligence percentage. A plaintiff still recovers 1 percent of their damages even if they are 99 percent responsible.
- No Defect: When a manufacturing defect contributes to an accident, the manufacturer defends their company by denying the defect. Plaintiffs must prove a defect existed and that it caused the accident.
- Damage dispute: Negligent parties who have no viable liability defense often deny causing a plaintiff’s injuries or dispute the injury extent.
Call Our Accident Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you were seriously injured in a Boca Raton bus accident, we want to help you. We understand that a settlement won’t change what happened to you or your family, but it will help cover your financial losses and aid the road to a successful recovery. Call our Boca Raton office at (561) 220-4963, or contact Sibley Dolman online to schedule a free appointment. We’ve recovered millions in damages for our clients and helped give them a better future. The associates at Sibley Dolman hope to do the same for you.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
2101 NW Corporate Boulevard, Suite 410
Boca Raton, Florida 33431