Although buses are considered by most people to be one of the safest forms of transportation we have, if you have been in a bus accident, you are probably just beginning to realize how dangerous they truly can be.
The numbers vary by source, but the following statistics indicate the potential of the problem. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are less than 300 fatal bus accidents in an average year. Of those, about 30% involve transit buses and 40% involve school buses.
We have a little more information about school bus accidents, because of certain reporting methods. None of this is good. There are 16,000 school bus accidents each year, and each year, these collisions cause at least 12,000 injuries and 120 deaths. Its a national tragedy.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, while you were riding the bus, walking on the street or using a car, you may be able to file a claim against the bus company or the owner of the bus, to receive compensation for your losses. These losses may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, disfigurement and emotional distress.
Your situation will need to be considered in light of federal and state guidelines. Buses are common carriers and are obligated to provide a higher level of safety. They fit into the same category as trains and planes. All common carriers may be liable for personal injuries to passengers. The carrier must have the essential equipment and a sensible degree of skill to carry out the transportation of passengers. State policies vary, but in general, if a personal injury occurs because the carrier was not in compliance with safety regulations, the carrier may have total liability for personal injuries. Liability issues in bus accidents often involve driver negligence, driver training, inadequate security, dangerous roadways, weather condition, defective products, drunk driving and improper maintenance.
As with any accident involving vehicles, there are a number of steps you need to take to ensure everything with your claim goes as smoothly as possible.
For your medical problems, see a doctor as soon as possible. Often times, an injury from a bus accident can be underestimated. You may feel fine now, but some injuries, particularly neck and back injuries, can become quite painful and debilitating in the long-term. A paper trail is also important throughout the process.
Get as much information you can about your accident. Key items include the names, numbers and addresses of all the people involved, including witnesses. You will also need to keep track of insurance information and the reporting process. Make copies.
Please do not talk to anyone about your bus accident other than with law enforcement officials. Anything you say to insurance company representatives or investigators could make it harder for you to settle your claim. It is also a good idea not to sign anything, particularly some kind of release form, without talking to a lawyer first. This is just a smart way for you to protect yourself. You also need to know that there is usually a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit when it comes to a bus accident. The sooner you move on this, the better.
For all these concerns, we recommend that you hire an attorney. You probably have a lot to handle right now, and a competent attorney can make sure everything gets done right. An attorney can also make things a lot easier for you by negotiating with insurance companies and guiding you get through the legal process.
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