Many of us view buses as one of the safest means of transportation available. They’re large, sturdy, and carefully designed with passenger safety in mind—but what happens when we’re on the other end of an accident involving a sizable bus? The average commuter doesn’t have the time to consider whether their vehicle or person could stand up to a crash with a bus.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a Florida bus accident, you’ve likely been left with more questions than answers. Can you receive compensation for your medical bills, mental anguish, and any damage done to your vehicle? What sort of information can you use to prove the bus driver or company’s liability in court? Which steps should you take to protect yourself and your rights and pursue damages?
Fortunately, the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help point you in the direction of answers. Navigating the time after any vehicle accident can be difficult and confusing—but with support from a compassionate legal professional, the process becomes much easier.
Injured in a Bus Accident? You Aren’t Alone
Experiencing a bus accident and trying to maintain the same quality of life after the event can be an alienating and upsetting experience for victims. Physical and emotional struggles often leave individuals involved in crashes feeling as though they’re alone in their suffering—but there’s no need for bus accident victims to feel isolated or unsupported as they return to their normal lives.
Florida has one of the largest numbers of registered buses of any state nationwide. Only three states boast registration numbers higher than Florida’s. It’s no wonder, then, that bus accidents are on the rise. Those who suffer in these traumatic events should never feel concern that their experience positions them as an outcast. With so many buses flooding Florida roadways, accidents are bound to happen.
2017 saw a countrywide increase of 9 percent in fatal bush crashes over previous years. More and more individuals have found themselves victims of bus and other large vehicle accidents. With a greater number of drivers falling victim to catastrophic bus accidents over time, they should understand a qualified lawyer’s ability to assist them in seeking compensation.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
If you were in a bus accident, you likely already know that insurance companies are more than willing to leap into the fray and fight hard to keep you from going to court. Insurance companies representing opposing or liable parties in your crash may begin trying to contact you almost immediately following the incident. Agents often try to diminish the credibility of your claims and offer compensation far less than what you deserve.
This is why it’s essential to find a lawyer you can trust and look to for advice. Teaming up with an experienced legal professional will grant you some leverage when it comes time to deal with insurance companies. You’ll also have the benefit of invaluable advice—you may not know who to speak to or what sorts of deals to accept, but your attorney will.
A lawyer will also help you prepare your case, track and sort evidence, and offer support throughout the legal process. You and your loved ones are forced to endure enough in the time following a bus accident—why pile responsibilities on yourself? You should be able to look to a trustworthy, motivated attorney to represent your best interests and grant critical advice.
Types of Bus Accidents
The average driver will encounter a variety of buses as they drive their vehicles day-to-day. Regardless of which type of bus becomes involved in an accident, these large vehicles have the potential to cause devastating damage to normal vehicles and human life. Victims may find themselves experiencing crashes with these buses:
- School buses: 40 percent of buses involved in fatal crashes across the nation from 2007 to 2017
- Transit buses 35 percent of buses involved in fatal crashes across the nation from 2007 to 2017
- Intercity buses: 13 percent of buses involved in fatal crashes across the nation from 2007 to 2017
Any type of bus harbors the power necessary to destroy the average commuter vehicle. When other crash factors such as speed, load, and the variety of crashes are considered, it’s easy to see the potential risk to human life in the event of a bus accident.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a bus accident, the damages and injuries you sustained were likely dependent on the type of crash that occurred. Bus accidents may play out in any number of ways, but some of the most common include rollovers and tip-overs. During these accidents, a bus’ size and design contribute to rolling or tipping the vehicle over. Some buses simply roll or tip of their own accord in certain conditions or following certain driving maneuvers. In other cases, a bus may strike or be struck by an object or another vehicle and roll or tip as a result.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses and bus drivers are not immune to the same problems that cause typical motorway crashes. Factors that increase the likelihood of passenger vehicle accidents also contribute to a greater chance of bus accident occurring. Issues like fatigued or untrained drivers or poor bus conditions play a part in increasing the risk of a bus accident occurring.
Remember that drivers are not always at the root of such crashes. Vehicular accidents occur for myriad reasons—including the unrealistic expectations of the bus company—and may be worsened by weather and road conditions or other factors. In some cases, even pedestrians and otherwise uninvolved motorists may be at fault.
Understanding the cause of your bus accident will offer insight into the bus driver and bus company’s liability in the crash. Determining which factors influenced the situation and who receives compensation following the crash involves a thorough investigation.
Determining Who Is at Fault in a Bus Accident
As mentioned previously, numerous parties may be found at fault in the event of a bus accident. Understanding who can be held liable for your accident is a key component of determining your case’s likelihood to stand up in court. If you partner with an attorney from the Dolman Law Group, one of our foremost concerns will center around establishing what happened during the crash and who was at fault for the accident.
The following parties may be held liable for your bus accident:
- The bus driver
- Distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated drivers
- Drivers exercising poor judgment
- Failure to follow traffic regulations
- The bus company
- Failure to provide proper vehicle maintenance
- Failure to provide sufficient driver training
- The bus manufacturer
- Use of defective parts
- Failure to fully test the vehicle before sale
- A reckless or negligent driver
- Inciting bus driver to drive dangerously or veer off of the road
- Driving into a bus
Bus accidents do tend to present one unique challenge. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to determine whether the bus driver or the bus company should be considered liable when your day in court comes. Many circumstances see bus companies being held liable even when driver negligence is at the root of a crash. Our knowledgeable and professional team will be able to help guide you through the complex process of determining liability.
What if My Bus Accident Involved a Government Vehicle?
Many buses on roadways today are owned, operated, or maintained by the government in some way. Plaintiffs must understand that this can have a significant bearing on court outcomes and options for compensation. The government is protected from liability in such cases and, occasionally, this can bar victims’ options for recovery.
The fortunate news for victims is that Florida has moved to shift these rules (to an extent). Sovereign immunity, which is what helps protect the government from liability, has been waived by the state in certain circumstances. Florida is willing to accept liability for claims as high as $200,000. If your damages amount to more than this amount, you must work closely with a lawyer to determine which defendants to name in court.
What Injuries Can a Bus Accident Cause?
Large vehicles like buses tend to dwarf most cars and other objects on the road. Getting into a collision with a bus of any variety opens up much more potential for damage than the average car crash. Most bus accidents involving passenger vehicles tend to end unfavorably for the parties in the smaller vehicle. In many cases, survivors are considered fortunate to escape with their lives.
You may have sustained many injuries due to your bus accident. The potential for harm ranges from lacerations and broken bones all the way to catastrophic injuries and even death. A handful of examples of such injuries include:
- Brain damage
- Separated joints
- Spinal cord injuries
Keep in mind that you can and should seek compensation for any injuries you receive as a result of the collision. Victims can claim damages to cover their medical costs, lost wages, and mental anguish that accumulate due to their injuries.
Damages: Victims’ Options in the Pursuit of Compensation
If you’ve been involved in a bus accident, you have every right to pursue compensation for a variety of damages. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to walk away from the crash without sustaining some sort of damage—whether it’s to your person, your vehicle, or any of your other belongings.
If your case either settles or wins in court, you could receive funds to cover these and other financial losses:
- Medical expenses
- Medical transport, on-scene services; past, present, and future doctor’s visits or hospitalizations due to the bus accident; long-term care
- Loss of wages
- Lost wages or other workplace benefits due to missing work as a result of the bus accident
- Diminished earning capacity
- Wage loss in the event of decreased hours, a career change to a lower-paying job, or retirement caused by the bus accident
- Pain and suffering
- Physical or emotional pain endured after the crash
- Loss of consortium
- Uninjured spouses of victims may pursue damages for the loss of marital benefits, sexual relations, etc.
- Wrongful death
- Funeral costs, burial expenses, loss of services
The Importance of Acting Quickly
Should you elect to fight for compensation following your bus accident, it’s a good rule of thumb to take action as quickly as possible. You’ll be able to provide a legal professional with greater detail if you need to remember your accident; and, if you’re losing money as a result of the bus accident, you’ll have a chance to receive compensation before costs become crippling.
While moving to partner with an attorney as soon as possible after a bus accident is ideal, there’s no hard and fast rule about when you should approach a firm. Victims actually have quite some time following a bus accident to take action and begin working toward court. Florida Statute 95.11 states that plaintiffs have four years to act following the date of the crash.
If victims fail to step forward during the four-year time period, they risk a court’s refusal to hear their case. Most insurance companies also cease settlement negotiations after these years have passed. Trepidation about the legal process often results in plaintiffs waiting to seek compensation until some time after their accident and, while that option is well within your rights, you should keep the four-year deadline at the back of your mind to avoid losing your right to compensation entirely.
Partner With the Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman After a Bus Crash
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page.
Our firms have assessed, settled, and litigated thousands of unique cases. If you were in an auto accident involving a bus, or have further questions regarding personal injury claims in Florida, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you understand your options and develop the best path for moving forward.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756