Personal injury lawsuits involving commercial bus companies often occur due to the negligence of a bus operator or poor maintenance of a bus that leads to a bus crash and injuries to passengers.
Consequently, if you are injured in a bus accident, you must prove that the driver or bus company was in some way negligent or failed to act responsibly and therefore is responsible for your injuries. To prove that the driver or company is at fault, you need to know how the law works in regard to personal injury cases related to bus accidents.
When the Bus Company Is Responsible
When considering personal injury claims, the law views it as the bus company’s responsibility to hire drivers qualified to operate its buses. Bus companies are also responsible for keeping buses in good mechanical condition and for detecting and correcting any flaws or defects in the design or operation of a bus that could lead to injury.
When the Bus Driver Is at Fault
If a bus driver speeds is distracted by text messaging while driving, or drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may be responsible for a bus accident. However, in some cases, a bus collision may not be due to the driver’s negligence.
Sometimes a driver’s fatigue that leads to a crash may be due to long working hours or taking prescription medications that can cause drowsiness. Dangerous road conditions can also lead to a crash, especially if a bus driver is not adequately trained to drive in bad weather or has little experience driving in hazardous conditions.
When the Design or Mechanics of the Bus Are at Fault
Accidents can also occur through no direct fault of the bus operator. Defective buses and bus parts or equipment can cause accidents and injuries to passengers. For example, a driver may lose control of the bus if the steering fails or the brakes are defective.
Bus accidents and injuries can result from the negligent maintenance of doors, tires, or safety equipment, in which case the bus company may be liable for injuries to passengers.
Injuries can occur if the mechanism that opens the bus door fails and the door slams shut while a passenger is boarding or exiting the bus. Also, a defective wheelchair lift or improper installation of a lift can lead to serious injury of the neck, spinal cord, lower back, or head.
When to Ask for Compensatory Damages
If you’ve been injured in a bus accident, you may have to sue the bus company in civil court to get compensatory damages. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the accident, you may be able to receive compensation to reimburse you for your medical expenses and loss of income while you recovered.
To win your case, you must prove that you were injured and that the bus company or driver was negligently responsible. In some cases, the court may also award you pain and suffering for anxiety, depression, or other debilitating emotional distress you experience as a result of the accident.
When You Need Evidence
When you present your case, you will need evidence. Items you can present to the court to prove your personal injury case include:
- Medical records showing treatment you received for your injuries immediately following the accident
- Bills for medical care, including doctor, therapy, and hospital bills, medical equipment bills, cost of medications, and bills for any home health services you received because of your injuries
- Proof of lost wages in the form of a letter from your employer stating your hourly wage or salary, the number of hours you usually work each pay period, and the amount of time you missed work following the accident because of your injuries
- Copy of the police report of the accident, especially if the report states that the accident was the result of a negligent act on the bus driver’s part
- Statements and contact information of people who witnessed the accident
If you seek compensatory damages for pain and suffering, keep a log detailing how your injuries have affected your daily life. Besides the physical pain and discomfort you experience, note how anxiety and stress related to the accident and your injuries have negatively impacted your life.
When to Ask for Future Damages
If you suffered a temporarily disabling injury or permanent disability, a personal injury attorney may be able to get you compensation to pay for long-term skilled nursing care or vocational rehabilitation.
If you have questions about where the liability for your injury lies, The Jaklitsch Law Groupwill review your case and offer free advice on whether you can file a personal injury claim.