There are more than 950,000 buses registered across the United States. They are in every state—buses transport our children to school, they carry sports teams to new cities, and they help us travel near and far to visit our loved ones, attend college classes, or get to the shopping center. In most cases, we consider bus travel to be among the safest ways to get around. Unless, of course, you are one of the thousands of people who suffer an injury in a bus accident annually, or you are a family member who loses a loved one in a bus accident.
When you or a loved one suffers an injury or you lose a loved one in a bus accident, you need to understand your rights and options to hold the responsible parties accountable. You can contact the bus accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, today for a free consultation to learn more.
Injuries Suffered in Bus Accidents
Several factors determine how seriously a bus accident can injure someone. One of the first factors is the type of collision—rear end, front end, side—as well as what other vehicle is involved in the accident. Speed also plays a role in the extent of injuries.
Victims traveling in cars or buses can suffer the following types of injuries:
- Whiplash and other head and neck injuries — Bus passengers are often unaware of an impending collision. This often results in their being unprepared for the sudden jolt they experience when another vehicle collides with a bus. Whiplash is a common injury; oftentimes, bus passengers do not use safety belts. Roadway accidents are one of the most prevalent causes of whiplash injuries, according to the NIH National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other head and neck injuries can also occur when a victim is in an accident involving a bus.
- Cuts, scrapes, and other lacerations — In a bus accident case, debris from metal inside the bus, scrapes against the seat frames, or broken glass can injure victims. It is important to remember these injuries are not always minor—deep gouges can mean serious blood loss, which can lead to serious infections.
- Internal Injuries — Punctured organs, including the liver or lung; internal bleeding, which can be fatal if not discovered and treated; bruising to the lung, chest walls, and other types of internal damage, which can cause excruciating pain, are not unheard of.
- Bone breaks — Arms, legs, and pelvic bones can all be broken whether you are in a car, pickup truck, van, or are a bus passenger. These breaks may be minor and result in only short-term recovery, but more serious breaks can lead to major health problems. For example, a broken rib can puncture a lung, resulting in additional problems for victims. You also want to be aware of potential injuries to your spine and back.
After an accident, seek immediate medical care. Keep in mind that you may be unaware of any injury in the minutes and hours following an accident. When you speak with a physician, let them know you were in a roadway accident. Make sure they know whether you were a passenger in the bus or you were traveling in another vehicle involved in the accident.
In the days following an accident, make sure you are keenly aware of any signals your body is sending which may indicate you have injuries.
Bus Accidents Can Have Multiple Responsible Parties
Usually, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that one of the drivers is at fault. This is not always the case—in fact, multiple parties are often at fault, particularly if the bus caused the bus accident.
A skilled lawyer knows that identifying liability among bus companies and the districts responsible for the operation of school buses is a crucial part of negotiating a bus accident claim. Some of the potential parties who may be liable for your injuries include:
- Employers of the bus driver — Employers can be held responsible if bus drivers do not follow guidelines set out by the state. For example, if the state requires drivers to have a certain amount of training, and their employer allows them to operate a bus without that training, you can hold them liable for your injuries.
- Bus owner and/or maintenance staff — The owner of the bus involved is usually the party who is liable for maintenance. When a bus is poorly maintained, there can be any number of failures, including brakes, failing tires, and other mechanical systems. These conditions can result in a serious accident, which can cause injuries to others.
- School districts — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says school buses are among the safest means of transportation. However, if your child is injured in a school bus accident, the school district may be liable. Remember, there are usually different rules when it comes to filing claims involving school bus accidents against a government entity, regardless of where you live.
- Other parties — Other drivers on the road, vehicle parts manufacturers, or other parties may be partially responsible for the injuries you or a loved one has suffered. A bus accident injury attorney can determine who caused the accident.
Make sure you work with an attorney who is willing to investigate to identify the liable parties. This can be crucial to holding the right parties accountable.
Damages Victims May Claim Following a Bus Accident
Damages are always a challenge to calculate because there are so many variables. No two bus accident cases are identical. Victim demographics also play a role in the severity of injuries. For example, a child is more likely to suffer less serious injuries than a senior. A person in their early 20s who is physically fit is less likely to suffer as serious an injury as someone in their mid-40s who is not as physically fit. In general, there are some broad categories of compensation that you may include in your claim.
Some of these losses are:
- Medical costs — You have the right to include your medical expenses as part of your claim for compensation following a bus accident. The costs associated with your care include hospitalization, tests, follow-up visits, pain medication, antibiotics to avoid potential infections, and rehabilitation costs. Keep in mind that you may also claim the costs of getting back and forth to visits if you can't transport yourself.
- Present and future wages and benefits — While you are recovering from your injuries, you may be collecting compensation from your employer if you have a disability plan. However, the fact is, these amounts are usually less than your usual salary. You can file a claim which includes the difference between the amounts you are collecting and your normal salary. Additionally, if you will be out of work for an extended period, you may collect estimated future wages. If you are losing out on valuable benefits, you should include those in your claim as well.
- Other potential items to include in claims — If you require assistance to perform tasks that you would normally do on your own, you may include the expenses resulting from needing to hire a housekeeper or babysitter, or use a ride-share service to get to and from appointments.
Speak with a local bus accident attorney regarding any expenses which you would not have incurred were it not for the injuries you sustained.
Insurance Claims Following a Bus Accident
Oftentimes, victims think they should just file an insurance claim following a bus accident. They think insurers will settle quickly and treat them fairly.
Insurance companies are not there to pay claims—they are there to make money for their shareholders. Because of this, you should know how an insurer will use to minimize your claim:
- Victim blaming — The easiest thing to do is to blame the person who is injured. This could happen by saying the victim caused the accident—this is harder to do if you are a passenger on a bus, but do not be too surprised if the insurer claims your injuries existed before the accident.
- Flat out denial of liability — The insurance company may also deny any liability. This would involve telling you someone else is responsible for the accident. This is an interesting tactic because the same insurance company may be representing more than one responsible party.
- Minimization of claim — Insurance company adjusters love to play hardball. There will be several attempts at minimizing your claim, including minimizing your injuries when they can. This can be done in numerous ways, including seeking information in your medical files which demonstrate that your injuries existed before the accident.
Make sure you speak with an experienced attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies and has experience working on bus accident claims. This is important because they can assist you with the issues that can arise in your claim.
Dealing With the Costs of a Bus Accident Attorney
According to the Bureau of Transportation, more than 30,000 fatalities take place on roadways annually. Only about 250 of these involve transit, which would include buses. While the percentage is low, clearly, injured bus accident victims, these figures are real, they are devastating, and they need answers.
Victims often worry about paying for an attorney. Your initial consultation is free, and during that consultation, a lawyer can help you understand your rights and what options are open to you and may help you seek compensation for your injuries. If you and a Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, bus accident lawyer can reach an agreement, they can help you understand how a claim would work.
Typically, a lawyer will take your case on a contingency basis: This means there is no charge for an attorney's representation unless they reach a settlement or other award in your case.
Remember, legal services are not the only costs in a bus accident injury claim. Make sure you speak with your lawyer about any fees you may need to pay.
Contact Our Bus Accident Lawyers Immediately for Answers
Recovering from the injuries suffered in a bus accident can be a long-term challenge. Whether you were injured in a bus accident, your child suffered an injury in a school bus accident, or you lost a loved one, you should speak with an attorney who has experience. No lawyer can guarantee an outcome. However, an experienced bus accident attorney will communicate with you and keep you up to date on the status of your claim.
The right lawyer will advise you of all the options which are open to you, let you know what you can expect through the course of your claim, and be prepared, when necessary, to take your case to court. We will work with you to make sure you know what options are available, and we can help you start the claims process.
You are entitled to file a claim following an injury suffered in a bus accident. You also need someone who will serve as your advocate. You can contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, to learn about your rights, find out your legal options, and get started pursuing the option that is right for you and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bus Accidents
While bus accidents occur with less frequency than other roadway accidents, this does not diminish the damage which can occur. Victims who are involved in any type of collision have questions. When one of the vehicles involved is a bus, there are even more questions. Here are answers to some of the common questions which bus accident victims have.
Is the bus driver always responsible for injuries victims suffer?
While a bus driver may have caused an accident, it is important to review what other parties may be partially responsible for an accident occurring. Some of these include the person responsible for the maintenance of the bus, the driver's employer, or the owner of the bus. Occasionally, a more thorough investigation is necessary to understand what the root cause of an accident is and who may be responsible.
Why is it necessary to identify who is liable for my injuries?
Before you can file a claim for an accident injury, you must identify the person or parties liable for those injuries. You may do this using the police report from the incident that resulted in an injury. If you live in a state with no-fault insurance, your insurance company may investigate the accident. In other cases, a bus accident attorney may investigate.
How are bus accidents investigated?
In many cases, insurance companies will order an accident reconstruction to attempt to determine how the accident occurred. In addition, nearby security cameras, traffic cameras (when available), and witness statements are used to assist in determining how the accident occurred.
What if my child was injured in a school bus accident?
If your child suffered an injury in a school bus accident, you need to contact an attorney immediately who has experience dealing with these types of accidents. Because school districts are governmental bodies, the time frames for filing a claim are different than those that involve private entities.
Can I file a claim on behalf of my child, who was injured?
While the rules for this vary from state to state, in most cases, the parent or guardian must file a claim on behalf of their child. Since children cannot legally be a party to any type of legal claim, it is your responsibility to act as their advocate. Find out from a bus accident attorney what rules apply in your state.
The insurance company called me and offered a quick settlement. Should I just accept?
Probably not. There is a good reason insurance companies make quick offers. Keep in mind that the sooner you accept an offer, the less the liability the insurer is taking on. Once you have accepted an offer, the insurance company is going to waive all future liability. This means any medical bills or other expenses involved in your recovery will not be covered. Before you accept any settlement you should speak with a bus accident injury attorney.
The insurer denied my claim. They said I was at fault. What now?
This is actually a common tactic when dealing with any type of roadway accident. Remember, the insurance company knows in some cases, once they deny a claim, victims will not always take the time to follow up on the claim. You should speak with your attorney and allow them to dispute the denial of your claim. Remember, once you have received a denial, there is a limited amount of time to file an appeal. Do not delay.
My injuries mean I cannot return to my prior job. What do I do?
As part of your bus accident injury claim, you can seek compensation for lost wages. Lost wages include the wages you would be collecting. However, in the case where you can't return to work, it may also include future estimated wages. Your lawyer will request your medical records and help you determine the best way to proceed.
How much is my bus accident injury claim worth?
This question is difficult to answer. You must consider many factors when determining how much compensation to claim. The age, overall health, and injuries a victim suffers vary from accident to accident.
Some compensation we may help you recover includes:
- Wages — Wages you lose during your recovery, which you would have been getting if you had been working. This may include extra benefits such as vacation time, loss of pension benefits, and other perks you may have received while working.
- Medical costs — Your medical costs may be covered by your existing health insurance. However, out-of-pocket costs, including co-payments, services that are not covered, rehabilitation therapy, and more, may be included in your claim.
- Other expenses — Speak with your lawyer regarding other possible claims you may include. You may include damage to your vehicle if the bus accident damaged it, plus damaged personal property such as iPads or other electronics.
Remember, every claim is different; there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the value of your potential claim.
What do I do if I suffer unexplained pain in the days after an accident?
Contact your doctor immediately. Make sure they know you were in an accident. Some injuries don't manifest until days following an accident. Never ignore unexplained pain, as it could be a sign of something else which is wrong. Remember, bus accidents happen quickly, and there is a great deal of confusion following an accident. Because your body also gets flooded with hormones when you are in an accident, you may miss signs of a possible injury.
Several insurance adjusters have contacted me. Who should I talk to about my claim?
None of them. Let us handle those communications.
This is a common occurrence with accidents. One adjuster may deal with your medical claims, while another handles claims associated with property damage. Your best option is to refer them to us. This will ensure they get the same information, and your attorney can answer their questions.
What should I do following a bus accident?
The first thing you need to do is assure your personal safety. You should also check those around you for injuries. If you are a bus passenger, you can provide aid to other passengers, but you should not move anyone you believe is in pain.
Other steps you can take include:
- Obtaining the names and driver's license information for all drivers in the accident.
- Taking photographs of the scene if possible.
- Obtaining names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident. If you were a passenger on a bus, you may want to collect as much information as possible from those who were on the bus with you.
- Seek medical attention. Regardless of whether you believe your injuries are minor or not, you need to seek medical care. Remember, you could suffer internal injuries from being thrust around the inside of the bus, and you may not be aware of the injuries you sustained.
- Provide answers to law enforcement officers as needed and obtain the name, town, and badge number of the officer who arrived on the scene.
- Contact a bus accident attorney
Victims of a bus accident often believe they have no options but to wait until the bus company or their insurer reaches out to them. This is incorrect. One of the most important things you can do is contact an attorney who will serve as your advocate through the claims process.
What should I avoid following a bus accident?
Avoid indicating you may have been at fault for the accident or your injuries. This applies when discussing the accident with witnesses, law enforcement officers, fellow passengers, and insurance companies. Some of the other things you should avoid include:
Some of the other things you should avoid include:
- Giving recorded statements — Insurance adjusters may tell you they wish to record their questions and answers when they contact you. Avoid doing this—remember, they are trained to ask questions to get specific results, and you could say something that could diminish your claim. Never give a recorded statement without speaking with your attorney.
- Signing documents from insurance companies — Insurers will often ask you to sign various release forms. One of these forms is likely to be a medical release form. Remember, while the insurance company can ask you about your injury, the medical release will be more intrusive. One of their goals is to see if they can point to a similar injury in your past medical records. Never sign a document until your lawyer reviews it.
- Ignoring medical advice — If a doctor tells you to avoid returning to work, listen to them. Remember, you could diminish your claim, and you could also cause yourself further injury if you return to work too soon.
Always be aware of discussing your accident with people you may only have a passing familiarity with. Avoid posting about the incident on social media, which can create all types of issues, particularly if you are accusing the wrong party of being at fault.
Do I need a bus accident attorney?
Any victim of an accident should seek advice from an attorney. This makes sense because you may not know what rights you have under the law.
Many victims believe the insurance company is going to protect their rights, but in general, this is not the case. Insurance adjusters work for insurance companies. Insurance companies have shareholders. While customers may pay premiums to have insurance in the event they need it, an insurance company has another focus: To make sure they make as much profit as possible. They reach this goal by making sure they pay as little in claims as possible.
Can I afford a bus accident attorney?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by bus accident victims. The fact is, most victims cannot afford not to have an attorney.
When you get Dolman Law Group in your corner after an injury:
- You hire an advocate — Having someone working for you following an accident is one way to assure someone is working on your behalf. Insurers will have their own legal team fighting to keep the amount of your claim as low as possible.
- Consultations are free — Speaking with an attorney immediately following an accident assures you know what rights you have and what options are open to you. It costs nothing for you to schedule a free consultation following an accident.
- We work on a contingency fee basis — Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that unless we get a settlement on your behalf, you will not pay for legal fees. You may still incur other costs, including filing fees, but you should discuss this with your lawyer.
In general, people who hire an accident injury lawyer tend to be more successful with their claims than those who try to represent themselves.
Why You Should Contact the Bus Accident Attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
These are only some of the possible questions you may have following a bus accident. We know this is a confusing time, and you have plenty of questions. We also know your primary focus must be on recovering from your injuries. We can help answer your questions and help you understand the claims process and your legal options following a bus accident.
With offices across both Florida coasts, we also serve clients across the United States. Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, today at 833-552-7274 and find out what a difference working with an experienced bus accident lawyer can make for you and your family. We are here to answer your questions, and it costs nothing for a consultation