Public transportation offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to commute. Unfortunately, due to their large size, buses run the risk of causing devastating harm in the event of a collision.
Anyone hurt in a bus collision should seek the counsel of an experienced Bucks County bus accident lawyer. A knowledgeable injury attorney from the area could help you develop a personalized strategy to obtain a fair damages award.
Liable Parties in a Bus Crash
There are numerous parties who could be found responsible for an accident involving a public transportation vehicle. Most commonly, the liable party is the bus operator. Drivers can collide with other motorists or pedestrians if they:
- Text while driving
- Operate a bus while fatigued
- Violate traffic safety guidelines
- Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
In other cases, the bus company may have failed to ensure passenger safety. A bus company could be held liable for an accident by a Bucks County attorney if they failed to provide their drivers with adequate training or failed to properly inspect the bus for manufacturing errors.
Faulty vehicle design, manufacturing mistakes, or the use of defective repair parts may also play a role in causing crashes. Local attorneys could review the unique circumstances of a wreck to identify all responsible parties.
What are Common Injuries in a Bus Wrecks?
Injuries sustained in a bus collision can range from minor bruises and lacerations to permanent impairments. Additionally, because passengers do not typically wear seatbelts, they can easily be tossed about inside the vehicle or even ejected from it. These circumstances often leave riders in significant distress, suffering from broken bones, injured organs, internal bleeding, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, or death.
These and other injuries may require long-term medical treatment and numerous surgeries, leading to possible further complications, such as life-threatening infections. Severe impacts to the head and spine can leave a person paralyzed, mentally compromised, and needing care and supervision 24-hours a day. With guidance from a Bucks County lawyer, people injured in a bus crash could recover just compensation for all of these harms.
Compensation for a Public Transportation Vehicle Wreck
State law establishes a legal basis for those injured to seek recovery for their harm. Many accident cases settle to avoid the cost and preparation associated with trials. Negotiating adequate settlement amounts may require the skill of a Bucks County attorney who is familiar with handling accident cases involving common carriers.
Bus accident cases can implicate insurance coverage for a number of parties – the bus company, other drivers, and passengers. Sorting out who pays for the injuries and what percentage depends on how the events took place and each insurance policy’s terms. Evidence gathered to prove fault may include police reports, photographs of the scene, witness accounts, maintenance records, available camera footage, and accident reconstruction expert reports.
Insurance companies often attempt to settle cases at the lowest possible amount to maximize their profits, even when resolving matters with their customers. With that in mind, claimants should carefully consider all offers, especially initial offers, as they will likely undervalue the harm sustained. Local lawyers could advise whether or not an offer is fair under the specific circumstances of a case.
Calculating Damages in Bucks County
Whether seeking damages through a settlement, an alternative dispute resolution, or trial, the nature of these awards remains the same. Plaintiffs may receive compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Together, these categories address harms that are financial – bills, out-of-pocket expenses, other monetary costs – and intangible. A reimbursement package may encompass:
- Medical treatment
- Occupational, physical, and psychological therapy
- Transportation to appointments
- Current and future lost wages
- At home care
- Renovations to living spaces
- Retrofitting vehicles
- Loss of employment opportunities
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Interruption to daily living
- Loss of consortium and companionship
An injured party may be unaware of all their available damages unless a local attorney familiar with bus accidents reviews their case. Therefore, people injured in common carrier wrecks should seek skilled legal guidance to ensure they are fully compensated for their harm.
What are the Damage Caps for Public Bus Wrecks?
Generally, Pennsylvania does not limit how much money an injured plaintiff may recover. However, if the accident involved a public bus, making a state or local government entity a possible defendant, different rules apply.
42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 8528 caps awards paid by state entities at $250,000, while local government bodies are not liable for damages over $500,000, as per 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8553(b). In addition to a monetary cap, Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity law restricts the type of damages recoverable. The permissible categories are medical expenses, earnings, pain and suffering (where someone has died or sustained a permanent impairment), loss of consortium, and loss of support.
Another way the law minimizes the government’s liability exposure is to set a condensed timeframe for initiating a civil action. Passengers injured on public transportation must notify the government of their intent to file a claim within six months of the accident. This window is significantly shorter than the two years allotted for raising allegations against private defendants. Also, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5522 outlines the specific steps a plaintiff must take to submit a valid notice of claim. Failure to adhere to these terms may doom an otherwise valid case, so it is vital to work with a bus accident attorney in Bucks County who is well-versed in these requirements.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Pennsylvania apportions damages awards according to the theory of modified comparative negligence. Although passengers usually do not play a role in bus accidents, drivers of other vehicles might, and avoiding the assignment of fault is important for all injured parties. 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 7201 limits a claimant’s recovery to the percentage of fault attributed to the defendants. In other words, if the defendants contributed to 70 percent of the harm and the plaintiff 30 percent, the claimant could only recoup up to 70 percent of the damages awarded. The injured party will receive nothing if their fault amounts to 51 percent or greater.
Reach Out to a Bucks County Bus Accident Attorney
Whether a passenger on the bus or in a car hit by a common carrier, you have the right to seek legal recourse if your injuries were due to another’s negligence. Collisions with public transportation vehicles often result in catastrophic harm. You may be facing ongoing treatments, medical bills, lost earnings, and other losses.
A Bucks County bus accident lawyer could help you secure financial compensation to help you move forward with your life. Take the first step by contacting us today.