When you have saved your hard-earned money to go on a tour, and an accident occurs, it can be both frustrating and devastating. Some of the injuries victims sustain are catastrophic, rendering them unable to enjoy tours again. The cost of treating catastrophic injuries typically run to thousands of dollars and prolong the healing process. Some injuries may require a person to need medical care for the rest of their lives, while others may render a person unable to earn an income to support themselves. The important question for victims of tour bus accidents is who is responsible for the damages or if they can seek to recover damages.
Fortunately, the state of California allows for tour bus accident victims to get awarded damages for the injuries sustained. Hiring a lawyer to pursue your claim is the best thing you can do as you focus on healing. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm has a passionate and compassionate team of lawyers to help you recover your rightful damages when injured in a tour bus accident.
Common Catastrophic Injuries in Tour Bus Accidents
Tour bus accidents can result in significant injuries that leave the victim’s life changed forever. Tour bus passengers do not have the privilege of advanced safety measures as found in regular cars when accidents occur. This is one of the reasons that passengers in a tour bus are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries even when the impact was not as forceful. Passengers in a tour bus sustain various devastating injuries. These include:
Severe Burn Injuries
A tour bus can roll over and damage its gas tank. The gas may start leaking with the passengers trapped on the bus. If the bus bursts into flames, catastrophic burn injuries are sustained. A victim can suffer from third-degree burns that disfigure them permanently and cause them psychological distress as well.
When the burns are severe, the victim can suffer from dangerous infections. Sometimes, a victim can have their organs failing due to the severe burns and also find it challenging to use their limbs. The injuries may require the accident victim to undergo reconstructive surgery. This is for the correction of their facial disfigurement and any other disfigurement.
The cost of treating these burns and reconstructive surgery is exceptionally high, often with a patient requiring several surgeries. Over the years, the victim may display more complications with their overall health due to the burns. A victim can seek to recover damages to give them the much needed financial relief that they have suffered due to the burn injuries.
Tour bus accidents can result in catastrophic brain injuries to their passengers. When an accident occurs, a passenger can get violently thrown against the body of the bus and severely hit themselves on the head. The tour bus need not be moving at high speed, but the forceful impact with a blunt object or surface can fracture the skull and leave a victim with a traumatic brain injury.
When a passenger suffers a catastrophic brain injury, it may involve internal bleeding of the brain and the formation of blood clots. These can be dangerous when they apply pressure on the brain, causing the victim to suffer from seizures. The brain coordinates all bodily functions, and when it gets injured, a victim may find themselves having difficulties breathing or doing the things they did previously with ease. The duties of the heart can also get affected when a victim suffers from traumatic brain injury.
Some catastrophic brain injuries can also leave the victim in a vegetative state. This may mean the patient will need help eating, bathing, among other things. This means the victim requires constant care to stay alive. This can get costly for the victim and their family. Recovering damages for the medical expenses are, however, possible in California.
Catastrophic Spinal Cord Injuries
When a tour bus accident occurs, a passenger can suffer injuries on their spine or neck. Catastrophic injuries on a person’s spine can result in partial or permanent paralysis. A victim can also have their digestive system affected. Other problems associated with devastating spinal injuries include respiratory problems, urinary tract issues, as well as mental disorders.
When a person suffers from a catastrophic spinal cord injury, the paralysis can result in them ending their career. The damage, in most cases, will result in the victim being confined in a wheelchair or the bed. Aside from the physical effects of this injury, the victim is likely to suffer from severe depression. This can result in many other consequences.
Loss of Sight
A blow during a tour bus accident or an impact from flying objects can result in permanent injury to the victim’s eyes. This will mean the victim is unable to see. Severe head trauma is mostly associated with the loss of sight for many accident victims.
Sight can get lost permanently, and other times it can be altered. The victim finds it difficult to read or is sensitive to light and has blurry vision. Such victims also suffer from severe headaches and are unable to make standard eye movements.
The treatment procedure required to correct eyesight where possible is costly. A victim may require surgery at times. However, there are no guarantees that their sight will get restored. When a victim suffers injuries affecting their eyesight, they may also lose their careers or be unable to earn a living as a result.
Another catastrophic injury associated with tour bus accidents is having your limbs amputated. This is a common occurrence when the impact is very forceful. A victim can have their leg or hand crashed, requiring it to get amputated and a prosthetic designed to replace it. The cost of surgical procedures, prosthetic limbs, and rehabilitation is high. Fortunately, a victim can recover damages for the same enabling them to receive the best possible treatment for the injury.
Aside from the catastrophic injuries victims of tour bus accidents suffer, death is a devastating outcome in these accidents. A victim of a tour bus accident can die on the spot or from the injuries sustained during the accident. Losing a loved one is devastating to their loved one psychologically and sometimes financially. Fortunately, when a loved one dies during a tour bus accident or because of the injuries sustained, the surviving family can recover damages for the wrongful death.
Causes of Tour Bus Accidents
California is a fault state. This means that the entity or person responsible for the accident is held liable for the damages. For the jury or insurance provider to establish the responsible party for the losses suffered, the cause of the accident must be determined. Once verified, it becomes easier to prove who is responsible for the injuries sustained by the tourists on the bus.
Sometimes, the cause of the accident may not be pegged on one party. Two or more parties can be responsible for the tour bus accident, causing the parties to share responsibility. In such a case, California uses the Comparative Theory law in apportioning blame and rewarding damages. Some of the common causes of tour bus accidents are:
Tour buses are common carriers used to transport people for a fee. This means that tour bus drivers can drive for prolonged hours resulting in fatigue. When overworked without adequate time to rest, a bus driver can fall asleep on the wheel or lose focus on the road. Fatigue is a common occurrence in commercial drivers and can lead to some of the most severe accidents with catastrophic injuries.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an offense in California. An intoxicated tour bus driver is a danger to his or her passengers as well as other road users. When a driver is drunk or drugged, he or she is unable to make sober decisions when faced with an emergency on the road. Naturally, intoxication causes a driver to be impaired, which makes it impossible to control the bus. Drunk drivers are known to be some of the most common reasons for catastrophic accidents occurring.
A tour bus driver can be negligent in many ways resulting in a severe accident that leads to catastrophic injuries. A negligent driver may disregard traffic rules, fail to give way or drive where they are not supposed to. A tour bus driver can enter an intersection without waiting to see if it is safe for them to do so. When this happens, the bus is likely to collide with another vehicle that had the right of way. As a result, an accident occurs, and the passengers suffer catastrophic injuries.
A tour bus driver can also operate the bus recklessly. A reckless behavior may include driving above the speed limit, running the red light, swerving in and out of lanes carelessly, among others. This kind of careless driving can result in an accident that leads to catastrophic injuries to the victims.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Sometimes the driver is not responsible for the accident involving a tour bus. A road that is not well marked or where there is road construction ahead, and no sufficient warning can result in an accident. Potholes on the road, as well as cracked cement, can also cause an accident. Sometimes, traffic lights can be faulty, resulting in the bus crashing onto another vehicle that is believed to be on the right too.
The mechanical breakdown of a tour bus can be as a result of many things. Sometimes the manufacturer of the coach may have made a mistake in a function that resulted in the bus crash. A faulty part of the bus can also lead to an accident. For instance, when a bus driver hits the brakes and they fail, the brakes were likely faulty, resulting in a severe collision.
A mechanical breakdown can also be as a result of poor maintenance of the bus. Some bus owners or tour companies may want to maximize their profits by neglecting to maintain their coaches in optimal conditions. A poorly maintained tour bus can breakdown in the middle of the road, causing a severe accident.
Poor Weather Conditions
Heavy rainfall or snow can cause visibility challenges. When a driver is unable to see the road and the surrounding, he or she can easily cause a severe accident. Driving is often discouraged when faced with bad weather to avoid the likelihood of getting into an accident.
Tour bus drivers are not on the road by themselves but share the way with other drivers. Other drivers can be negligent or reckless in their driving, causing an accident between themselves and the tour bus. A motorcycle can carelessly swerve ahead of a tour bus, and as the driver tries to avoid crashing into it, an accident happens.
Who is Liable for the Damages Suffered Following a Tour Bus Accident
As earlier stated, knowing the cause of a tour bus accident will help determine the fault party or the party held accountable for the damages. Based on the discussion above on the causes of tour bus accidents, seven entities or parties can be held responsible for the accident. This means a victim can recover damages from the party found to be responsible for the accident. Some of the parties to sue or recover damages from are:
The Bus Company
Some tour companies do not have buses but enter into a contract with a bus company to provide them with tour buses. When the agreement states that the bus company is responsible for the maintenance of the coaches, an accident due to poor maintenance is blamed on them. An injured victim can seek damages from the bus company or their insurance provider.
Sometimes the negligence of their employee can be the reason for the accident. When this is the case, the bus company can be sued for damages suffered by the accident victims.
The Tour Operator
The company providing the touring services can sometimes be sued for damages. When the tour company owns the bus that provides the transportation service, an accident would mean they are liable for the damages.
The Maintenance Company or Auto Shop
A tour bus owner may be doing their part by entrusting a maintenance company or auto shop with the proper maintenance of their buses. When an accident happens due to mechanical malfunction occasioned by poor maintenance, the company responsible for maintenance can be accountable. This is especially so when there is evidence that they are tasked with ensuring the bus is in good working condition, and they assure the bus owner of the same.
The bus owner must, however, produce evidence supporting that they have ensured their buses are periodically serviced by the particular auto shop or maintenance company.
Some functions, such as ensuring the roads are in excellent condition, and the traffic lights are working are the responsibility of the government. If the particular government entity was negligent in ensuring roads are well maintained and other road conditions, it is held accountable for the damages.
The Bus Manufacturer or Parts Manufacturer
A fault in the manufacturing of the bus or its parts can lead to an accident resulting in catastrophic injuries. When this is determined, accident victims can recover damages from the manufacturer for their devastating injuries.
The Other Driver
Another driver can be responsible for causing a tour bus accident. When this is established, a tour bus accident victim can recover damages from the insurance provider of the at-fault driver.
Filing a Claim Following Catastrophic Injuries from a Tour Bus Accident
After a fault has been established, a claim for the damages a victim suffers can be raised. Catastrophic injuries are the most expensive injuries to treat. As such, a claim can be contested due to the amounts sought. Ensuring your treatment records are well kept and filed is essential in supporting your claim.
A personal injury lawyer can help you establish the necessary documents that will support your claim. A comprehensive doctor’s report must accompany the petition when your lawyer files for the application. Your doctor must give a detailed account of your injuries, the treatment procedures, and medication used. Additionally, if there is a need for prolonged treatment, the doctor must indicate it with an approximate cost for the treatment.
Photographic evidence is crucial in supporting your claim. Catastrophic injuries are significant and often alter the appearance of the victim. Your photos before the tour bus accident and after are essential in getting your rightful claim.
Non-economic damages are some of the most contested losses. This is because they result in high amounts of compensation. Having all the necessary medical records and photos will help in supporting your claim and giving you a considerable amount of non-economic damages.
Once all your documents are ready, and the party responsible for the damages is established, your lawyer will file a claim with the insurance provider of the responsible party. The insurance adjuster will assess the claim and carry an investigation into the same. After that, the adjuster will give a counteroffer if they are not in agreement with your request. A negotiation between your lawyer and the insurance company ensues until an agreement is reached.
If it becomes impossible to agree, your lawyer can file a petition with the court asking it to help recover your damages from the insurance company. During the trial, both parties will present their arguments supporting their case. This makes it crucial to have sufficient evidence that will support your claim.
After the trial concludes, the jury will award damages to the victim based on their assessment of the case.
Recoverable Damages from a Tour Bus Accident
Like any other vehicle accident, a victim of a bus accident can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Recoverable damages are, however, dependent on the policy the at-fault party has. For instance, if the person has a cover that compensates liabilities up to a maximum of $30,000, the insurance company will not pay you more than that.
These are quantifiable losses a victim of a tour bus accident suffers as they seek treatment for their catastrophic injuries. Some of the losses in this category include:
- Medical Expenses – As earlier discussed, treating catastrophic injuries is costly. The treatment also takes a long time, with some of the damages causing a permanent disability. The insurance company of the at-fault party is liable to pay for the injuries you suffered seeking medical treatment as a result. Medical expenses include the doctor’s fees, cost of all medical procedures such as surgeries, tests like X-rays, and cost of medication. All these must be well documented with supporting documents that make your claim authentic. If your injuries require prolonged treatment, details of the same and approximate costs are also needed for compensation.
- Lost income or capacity to earn – When a victim is healing from their catastrophic injuries, it is unlikely they will go to work. The income they lose during the period they are not working is recoverable. Some catastrophic injuries can leave a person in a vegetative state or unable to work again for the rest of their lives. A calculation is made of the amount they would have earned if they were not injured and compensated.
These are losses a victim of a tour bus accident cannot have them quantified in monetary value. There is no proper way of calculating the value, but in most cases, the economic damages a victim receives help to guide. Some of these damages include:
- Lost limb – When an accident victim loses a body part, the cost of treatment and prosthetic can be established under economic losses and compensated. However, the value of the lost limb cannot be quantified. Deciding how much value a victim’s leg is cannot be established. However, a victim, regardless of the challenge, is entitled to be compensated for the lost limb.
- Pain and suffering – Catastrophic injuries cause the victim significant pain and suffering. But who is to say what the value of your pain and suffering is? This becomes a difficult damages sum to recover, but based on the injuries and economic losses, a jury can decide how much to award you.
- Wrongful death – When your loved one dies following a tour bus accident, no amount of money can compensate for their life. However, the law allows for a wrongful death victim to be paid.
Find a Lawyer Near Me
A catastrophic injury is painful to both the victim and their loved ones. The damages suffered in these kinds of injuries are life-altering to the victims. Treating these injuries is always very expensive, and without proper medical care, the injuries can lead to fatalities. Although monetary compensation cannot reverse the injuries, it helps take care of the financial burdens the injuries caused. Finding a passionate lawyer to pursue your claim is essential to getting your rightful damages. Our team at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm understands the pain catastrophic injuries cause their victims. With this in mind, we have helped many victims recover their damages as they focused on recovery. Contact us at 310-935-0089, and let us help you get your costs paid.