Despite all the federal regulations on carriers and highway safety campaigns, injuries from buses and large trucks are on the rise in America. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2014, there were roughly 93,000 injury crashes involving buses and trucks, a 55 percent increase from 2009.
Victims of bus accidents (or their families in fatal cases) have the right to seek compensation for damages either via an insurance claim or lawsuit. The guidelines, time limits, and elements vary case-by-case, depending on the type of carrier, whether other parties were involved, and which legal avenue the victim pursues. For help pursuing a settlement for your losses, call Goldstein & Bashner at 516-222-4000 to set up a consultation with a Long Island bus accident lawyer.
What are common causes of bus accidents?
Like other types of roadway accidents, bus accidents occur for various reasons, from intoxication to distraction. Below are a few common cause:
- Rear-end accidents
- Poor judgment
- Cell phone use
- Passenger distraction
- Disobeying rules of the road
The primary factor that makes bus accidents different is that bus drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers. If a bus driver causes an accident because she is texting while driving, the negligence will be more harshly scrutinized because the carrier has a high duty of care to passengers. Both the driver and the company will probably be penalized, and the carrier will be liable for any damages the passengers or other road users sustain.
Who is liable for a bus accident?
Liability depends on the circumstances of the accident. Liability can fall on any and all parties that was negligent. In many bus accidents, there are actually multiple parties involved, which make it especially challenging to identify and assign liability. Your bus accident attorney can review the facts of your accident, identify fault, and help you take action against the appropriate party (defendant).
Some of the defendants that may be held responsible for damages after a bus accident include:
- Bus company – If the driver or company acted in a negligent manner (e.g., drove while distracted, hired unqualified drivers, travelled too fast for conditions), then the carrier will likely be the liable party. Because of New York’s vicarious liability rules, the company will automatically shoulder blame for the driver’s conduct.
- Another driver – If another driver’s negligence caused the crash, then you can usually pursue damages from him or her either via a claim or lawsuit.
- Bus part manufacturer – If the bus had faulty tires, brakes, or other parts that contributed to the wreck, the bus or parts manufacturer may be named as defendant.
- Another bus passenger – Passengers might be liable when they purposely cause injury, such as in an act of violence. You can file a civil suit against an individual party.
- City – While they are more challenging types of cases, if a government entity owned the bus (e.g., a school bus, Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE), or Suffolk County Transit), then the potential liable party is the agency in charge. Rules differ for cases against the city, so make sure to run your case by an attorney familiar with bus accidents if this applies to you.
How do I sue the city for a bus accident?
If a local government agency operates the bus, it can be more difficult to sue, but it can be done. You must follow specific steps and meet certain requirements, outlined in Article 4 of the New York General Municipal Law, to sue a government entity.
First, you must file a notice of claim with the appropriate entity. Goldstein & Bashner will help you do this to ensure you follow the correct procedures. You generally have 90 days to file this notice, so do not waste time – set up your consultation today by calling us at 516-222-4000.
Next, the agency has 30 days to request a hearing. This hearing allows the entity to investigate your claim and its merits. Meanwhile, you will have a year and 90 days to file your lawsuit after the accident that caused your injury (two years if pursuing a wrongful death claim).
There are a lot of protocols and steps that are unique to cases involving public buses. It is easy to accidentally thwart your entire case. So, before taking any kind of action, get legal help.
What do I need to prove in order to win a bus accident claim?
Just like with other types of injury cases, you need to have sufficient evidence to prove certain elements in order to win your bus accident claim, whether suing the government or a private entity. Specifically, you need to be able to establish the following:
- Duty – The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Breach – The defendant breached their duties by acting negligently or carelessly.
- Causation – The defendant’s negligence caused your injuries.
- Damages – You sustained injuries and damages that are compensable in a personal injury case.
Proving your case is sometimes easier said than done. Obviously, you need to collect enough evidence to demonstrate the other party’s negligence. The police report, witness testimonies, photos and videos of the accident, and expert testimonies can help. Your lawyer can also gather additional evidence such as the bus’s maintenance records, the driver’s employee file, and toxicology reports to see if there are any signs of negligence.
You also have to support your request for damages. Save all of your injury-related bills and receipts as proof of your losses, and gather your last pay stubs. You can recover not only your medical bills, but also lost wages, long-term disability, miscellaneous expenses like for transportation and medical devices, and pain and suffering. All of these things will be instrumental as your attorney organizes your case and tallies your damages.
Goldstein & Bashner Represents Bus Accident Victims – Get Help Today
Bus accident claims might be challenging, but our attorneys at Goldstein & Bashner are not intimidated. We have the experience, skills, and resources to handle any type of bus accident case. Our lawyers will negotiate and litigate; we can work directly with the insurance company to obtain a fair settlement, or fight your case in court, if need be.
If you or your loved one was hurt by another’s negligence in a bus crash, you should exercise your rights to seek full recovery for your economic and emotional losses. Let our team help you pursue the compensation that you and your family deserve. Call our office in Long Island at 516-222-4000 today and request a free consultation.