Bus accidents can result in significant damages and injuries to those involved. There are multiple causes of bus accidents that can be internal or external. If you are a fellow motorist and are involved in a collision with a bus, you can seek compensation for the damages you will suffer. Similarly, a passenger on a bus can also seek compensation if injured on the bus. Knowing the cause of an accident helps understand who is liable for the damages and the evidence required when pursuing a claim. With the necessary evidence, a personal injury attorney can help you get your fair compensation. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we are a team of dedicated and passionate attorneys that focus on ensuring our clients get the best compensation settlement due to them.
What to do when an Accident Involving a Bus Happens
Whether you are a passenger on the bus or a fellow motorist, when a crash happens, there are various things that you must do. These things go a long way to act as evidence following your claim and can be influential in determining the compensation amount. Here, we discuss these things as well as how they serve as evidence when claiming for compensation.
Step One: Call for help
It does not matter whether you are a motorist or a passenger involved in the accident. Anyone can call 911 to report an accident. If the driver of the bus is seriously injured, even that of the other vehicle involved, whose duty is it to call the police? Every person is expected by the law to practice the duty of care. If you are a passenger or a driver of the vehicles involved in the accident, you must call for help. You should also report if there are people injured as a result.
It is always advisable not to leave the scene of the accident unless you have suffered injuries that need immediate medical attention. If you were driving the other vehicle involved in the accident and must go to the hospital, leave the car at the scene. If a passenger, stay on the scene. If possible, wait for the police to come and write their report. If you must go to the hospital, ensure you still report to the police once stable.
Step Two: Collect Evidence
To seek compensation, one must know who is responsible for an accident. When you are involved in a crash with a bus, several things could be the cause of the accident. Depending on the cause, one will know whom to seek compensation from.
The essential evidence you should collect includes taking photos of the accident scene. Photos are still images that will show the angle at which a crash happened and can help determine the responsible party. Additionally, photos can show the extent of injuries suffered as well as damage to your car and the bus. A video is also essential. When taking pictures or videos, it is vital to ensure you capture each angle and the surrounding of the accident.
If you are a passenger on the bus, take photos as well and a video where possible. The images and video will help determine the party to seek damages from. Inside the bus, there could also be many causes for injuries that you may sustain. Taking photos of the surroundings is equally important to show where the injuries sustained come from.
Always take pictures of the injuries as well. This is because they may heal, and you are not able to demonstrate how significant they were. Images of your injuries are crucial when awarding damages for the pain and suffering you would go through.
Take details of the bus that has been involved in the accident. Some coaches are individually owned, others by government entities, while others by private companies. The parties liable for the damages are varied, making it essential to know the owner or the entity that owns the bus. Get the details of the bus driver, the vehicle identification, and the insurer of the bus. If there are witnesses to the crash, get their details as well. These are also important in convincing the insurer or the court that you should be compensated for the damages.
Step Three: When Law Enforcement Officials Arrive at the Scene
The police will come to the accident scene to evaluate and write a report. There are many things police officers do at the accident scene. When they arrive, they will secure the scene and proceed to gather evidence after ensuring the injured have been assisted. The police will interview any witnesses to the accident and carry out sobriety tests to eliminate intoxication as the cause of the accident. If there are citations to be issued, they will then go ahead and render them.
The police report on the accident is crucial in claim cases. The insurers will want the police report to help determine the at-fault party. A passenger can get the police report through their lawyer as well as a motorist.
Step Four: Reporting to Your Insurance Company
As a motorist, you must report the accident to your insurance company. Insurance covers include a clause where a driver is expected to communicate when they are involved in an accident. If you do not report the accident, you risk having your cover canceled, your premiums being increased, or the company will decline to renew your cover. Reporting to the insurance company is essential also because the bus driver can claim not to be at fault and seek damages from you.
California adheres to the theory of comparative fault. This means that damages are awarded according to the degree of responsibility. In an investigation, both drivers can be found at fault for the accident. When this happens, you will each be compensated based on the degree of responsibility.
Never admit fault when involved in an accident regardless of the kind of vehicle involved. The words you use at the scene can be used to claim that you have admitted fault. This can prompt the bus driver and passengers to institute a bogus claim to get compensated. If this happened and you had not reported the accident to your insurance company, it can lead to significant consequences.
Step Five: Get a Personal Injury Lawyer
Avoid conducting the bus driver’s insurance company directly. Insurance companies want to avoid paying claims as much as possible. The insurance adjuster for the bus insurance will try to convince you that you are at fault and do not deserve compensation. Other times they may offer you compensation that may seem like a lot of money. Avoid falling for these temptations because it will be impossible to go back and claim more.
Get a lawyer to represent you in your claims. A lawyer knows the tricks insurance companies use and will be able to fight against them. A lawyer will negotiate your claim on your behalf, and if they do not agree, he or she can file a petition for the damages.
Causes and Evidence Required in Bus Accident Cases
As earlier indicated, the cause of a bus accident helps determine the party or entity at fault and the evidence required for a claim to be successful. Here, we will discuss various causes of a bus accident, the entity at fault, and proof needed for the claim.
Cause: Negligence and Reckless driving – a negligent bus driver can cause serious accidents on the highway. Negligence or recklessness is when a driver disregards the safety of others and traffic regulations while on the road.
Evidence of Negligence – when a driver moves at speeds over the legal limit, carelessly changes lanes, refuses to yield way, and even runs a red light, these are all signs of negligence on the road. A driver using a phone while driving demonstrates a high level of negligence. Any behavior that causes a driver to get distracted from driving and focus on the other activity constitutes negligent driving.
When seeking compensation, you must demonstrate that the bus driver caused the accident due to negligence. Street cameras can help get the footage that shows the way the driver was moving. If you notice the driver was on the phone as a passenger, take a photo of it. It is your right to demand safe driving because the law forbids bus drivers from using a cell phone while driving unless it is an emergency.
Similarly, when a bus crashes into your vehicle, you need to take photos of the scene of the accident, the damages sustained, and any injuries suffered. Asking for the police report is also crucial when going to seek compensation. If you suspect the police driver was intoxicated, let the police know, although most times sobriety tests are carried out automatically. If there is evidence of intoxication, it must be presented to reinforce your claim.
When the driver is found to be negligent in their driving, he will be held accountable for the damages. A claim will then be presented against their insurance company or the company that he works for.
Cause: Dangerous Road Conditions – a bus accident can be as a result of road conditions. A bus can hit a pothole and roll or crash into another vehicle.
Evidence of Dangerous Road Conditions – if the suspected cause of the accident is hazardous conditions of the road, the evidence of the same must be presented. If this is proven to be accurate, the driver is not to blame for the accident. The responsibility falls on the government entity responsible for maintaining the roads.
Just like in all other accidents, photos of the accident scene are essential in establishing the cause of the accident. If a road condition caused the accident, pictures of the pothole or cracked cement, among others, must be produced as evidence. A witness account on how the bus hit the pothole is also crucial in this case. The injuries the victims suffer, and the damages to other cars must also be presented.
When the cause of the accident is established as dangerous road conditions according to the evidence presented, the right entity to claim damages from maybe the state or its bodies.
Cause: Intoxicated driver – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited in California and a serious offense. Bus drivers fall under common carrier laws and are held in higher regard compared to other drivers. The penalties for bus drivers found driving while intoxicated are higher than those of regular drivers.
Evidence of Intoxication – when the police arrive at the scene of the accident, one of the crucial things they do is to carry out sobriety tests on the drivers. If the drivers are injured or in hospital, a blood sample is taken to test it for alcohol concentration. If the bus driver’s BAC is found to be at 0.04% or over, they will be charged with drunk driving.
When presenting a claim for compensation, one will need a copy of the BAC results. Your lawyer will be able to obtain the records from the police and submit it to the insurer. When a commercial driver is arrested for drunk driving, his or her driver’s license is temporarily suspended until a DMV hearing takes place. A report from the DMV, as well as that of the police, is crucial in a claim.
A witness statement is also crucial when seeking compensation. Just like in other accidents, photos and videos of the scene are also important.
Cause: Fatigue – commercial drivers spend long hours on the road. This often leads to them being fatigued, and as a result, their minds shut, or they fall asleep on the wheel.
Evidence of Exhaustion - Although this may be hard to prove, fatigue is a common cause of accidents in buses. When a driver falls asleep on the wheel, they will start to swerve from one lane to another. They are unable to control their vehicles and end up crashing into another. The passengers also get injured from the accident. If a passenger notices a driver falling asleep, they should take pictures that will be evidence of the cause of the accident.
A driver is often disoriented after causing the accident. A police report will be necessary for demonstrating that the driver was exhausted. In the report, the police will indicate the symptoms the driver displayed, which are essential in the claim.
When it is established that the bus driver was responsible for the accident, a claim can be instituted for the damages or sue him if he does not have insurance.
Cause: Weather Conditions – sometimes, a bus accident may be due to bad weather. The driver may be careful, but he or she may lack adequate visibility, or the roads can be slippery. This can lead to them crashing into other motorists, injuring them as well as the bus passengers.
Evidence of Weather Conditions – one cannot control lousy weather. When an accident happens due to bad weather, the damage to the vehicles involved can be severe, as well as the passengers. To seek a claim from the insurer, a police report is necessary and evidence of the prevailing weather condition when the accident occurred.
Pictures and videos work well here to prove to the insurer the cause of the accident when seeking compensation. A statement from a witness is also necessary.
Recoverable Damages Following a Bus Accident – Evidence Required
As earlier stated, victims of a bus accident are permitted to seek compensation for the damages suffered. However, in seeking damages, one must produce specific evidence concerning the damages being sought. Here, we discuss the various damages a victim can seek reward for and the evidence they must provide:
- Medical bills – when a victim is injured in an accident involving a bus, they must seek medical attention to ensure they are well. Whatever medical costs they incur, the law allows them to be compensated. From the ER treatment to other medical procedures, equipment used, and medicine, all can be paid. However, a person cannot bring a fictitious or bogus claim and expect compensation. The application for medical bills must be accompanied by evidence. A medical report by the doctors that attended to you and accompanying bills from the hospital is necessary. It is important to have pictures taken of you at the scene of the accident. Additionally, photos of the accident scene itself and the injuries sustained before, during, and after treatment too. All these are essential in confirming you were involved in the accident, and you are eligible for compensation.
- Specialized care – some injuries a victim sustains can be significant that they will require specialized care. Substantial brain trauma may lead to a person requiring skilled care and more so in-home care. Other injuries will require a victim to undergo physical therapy treatment. A victim that suffers paralysis due to spine trauma following the accident may also require specialized treatment. To get compensated for these costs, one needs a detailed medical report on the injuries sustained and the care required. The cost of the care must also be included. Pictures at the accident scene, of the injuries, treatment process are also crucial in showing the need for the claim. Social media posts and your recent photos can also help in explaining the life of the victim before and after the accident.
- Lost income – while recuperating from injuries, a victim of an accident will miss work for a specified period as recommended by the doctor. In seeking compensation for the income loss, the victim must produce medical records as outlined above. Additionally, they must present a letter from their employer. The employer in the letter must state when the victim became their employee, evidence of salary paid to them, and the position they work as. You cannot claim more than you deserve. This means the insurer will compensate for what you would have earned only and not more through falsified documents.
- Lost Future Earnings – some injuries require lifetime care making the victim unable to earn an income for the rest of their lives or for a prolonged period. Just like in lost income, there must be evidence of employment and the income earned. In addition, proof of their age is essential in calculating the productive years ahead to determine the revenue expected. Doctor’s records must also accompany this claim detailing the extent of the injuries and the limitations the victim faces.
- Vehicle repair – damages to the vehicles involved in an accident is inevitable. Some people take advantage of an accident happening to claim more for the repair. However, this may not be possible because insurance companies have their assessors and adjusters that investigate each claim before paying it. Pictures of your vehicle at the accident scene and how the bus crashed into it are essential. Photos at the auto shop and a video detailing the damages to the car are also crucial. A receipt from the towing company that towed your car and pictures should also accompany your claim. The auto shop must give a detailed account of the damages, the spares needed, and the cost or repair. This may be contained in a statement and an invoice that accompanies a claim.
- Wrongful death claim – in presenting this claim, evidence of the deceased being in the bus or the vehicle involved in the accident with the coach is crucial. If the victim died at the scene, the police would have pictures of the same. If the victim succumbed to the injuries in the hospital, the doctors could give a detailed account of the treatment and eventual death. A death certificate and the cost of burial and funeral services must be presented for the claim. For the expenses, receipts of the costs must be attached to the claim. Additionally, the law does not allow any person to seek a wrongful death claim. There must be evidence to show whether the deceased was a spouse, parent, child, or a grandchild among another legally acceptable surviving family.
Common Injuries in a Bus Accident
When an accident involving a bus and another motorist happens, the damages suffered can be devastating. The occupants from the other vehicle, as well as those of the bus, will suffer injuries and demand compensation.
Most buses don’t have enhanced safety features to protect them when accidents occur. Regular vehicles are installed with airbags and seatbelts that serve to reduce the impact of the occupants with the car. Unfortunately, buses are not installed with these features, and a small accident can lead to severe injuries. Passengers in a bus will sit facing each other or in one direction while others stand. When emergency brakes are applied, passengers can hit against each other and the body of the bus.
The injuries suffered by passengers are similar to those experienced by occupants of a regular vehicle. However, the degree of severity may differ. Some of the injuries sustained following a bus accident include:
- Head injuries – the crashing on the vehicle’s or bus’s body can lead to severe head injuries. Some people can suffer fractures to their skull, while others get significantly wounded
- Neck injuries and back injuries due to the impact
- Internal body and organ injuries
- Paralysis mostly due to back injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Disfigurement among other injuries
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
A bus accident can result in significant injuries and sometimes death of its passengers or from the other vehicle involved in the crash. The law permits victims of the disaster to seek claims for the damages suffered. However, for anyone to get rewarded for the costs, you must produce evidence to support your claim. A bogus claim will be thrown out and can lead to your being investigated for insurance fraud. With an experienced personal injury lawyer, he or she will guide you on the evidence you require to have a successful claim. The attorneys at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm are experienced in these matters and will help you all the way. Call our office at 310-935-0089, and allow us to discuss your claim.