Understand your legal rights when the wheels on the bus screech to a halt because of a serious accident
If you’ve ever used public transportation or ridden in a private charter bus, then you understand that commuting in a big vehicle like this is much different than riding in a standard passenger vehicle. Not only are vehicles bigger, but safety standards and precautions are different as well.
For instance, many buses — including school buses — don’t come equipped with seat belts. So when an accident involving a bus occurs, riders can easily be tossed around and often suffer injuries that a typical vehicle passenger doesn’t endure. The dynamics of bus accident are also different, especially when a bus and a smaller vehicle collide.
What this means is that injuries following a bus accidents are often more severe and of a different nature. Also, responsibility for the collision can include multiple parties. Knowing what actions to take following a bus accident can be confusing for the injured victim, which is why it’s usually best to retain an experienced bus accident attorney to represent you.
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Florida’s No Fault System & Bus Accident Liability
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that injured bus accident passengers will first submit an injury claim to their own insurance company. However, if the cost of damages exceeds their policy, they may be able to pursue a compensation claim against the bus driver, the company, or a government municipality (in the event of a public transportation accident).
Filing a claim against a government entity in Florida is more challenging partly because the claim window for filing is usually shorter than a standard injury claim against a private carrier. These claims may be necessary for those who suffer minor injuries, but in serious injury cases that result in significant general damages for medical costs, lost wages and pain-and-suffering a lawsuit should be pursued.
Drivers or passengers of other cars who are involved in an accident with a bus can also pursue damages against the bus driver when their injuries are so serious they can be classified as catastrophic under Florida law. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence law, which means injured drivers can receive financial damages even when they are partially at fault, but their damage total will be reduced by their fault percentage.
How Bus Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
Bus accident cases are known for being more complicated than car accidents because there are usually several passengers who may be filing claims simultaneously, and there could be multiple vehicles involved. In addition, the bus driver could be completely at fault for the accident. This means the company or transportation system could be liable for extensive claims to many individuals.
Florida law allows injured victims to file claims against all responsible parties when the injuries generate damages in excess of their PIP insurance policy, which means that other drivers can be pursued for financial damages as well. The rules for filing extended claims can be complicated because the injury must qualify as serious enough to warrant additional damage requests.
Generally, it always takes an experienced bus accident attorney to handle the additional claims in court.
Bus Accidents Damages
Compensable damages resulting from a bus accident are similar to other auto accidents. Financial recovery can be recovered by injured passengers or drivers for medical bills, lost time from work, and ongoing general damages.
Drivers can also receive property damage benefits. Punitive damages might also be available when the driver of a bus or car is found to be grossly or willfully negligent — such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an accident, or if the transportation company failed to maintain required safety standards and procedures.
Always remember that a bus accident case is rarely a simple process, especially in bad accidents where there are several seriously injured claimants. If you or a loved one were in a bus crash and seriously hurt, be sure to consult a knowledgeable bus accident attorney with a solid track record of getting results for their clients; an attorney who understands what to expect and how to craft the best argument for maximum financial compensation.
If you’ve been injured in a bus accident in Florida, contact the experienced attorneys at Tragos Law for your free case consultation today.