What to Do if You Are in a Bus Accident
Provided by HG.org
Whenever you step onto a bus, whether a city bus, a tour bus, a shuttle, a school bus, etc., you are entrusting your safety to the bus driver and the owner of the bus. For some reason, we feel safe and secure on a bus; so much so that many buses do not have or require seat belts. But even when in a bus, accidents do happen.
When involved in a bus accident, the consequences can be significant, possibly even more so than a typical car accident. There are more victims, more responsible parties, and injuries can potentially be much more serious because of the lack of safety equipment like airbags and seat belts. For that reason, you probably will want to contact an experienced, qualified attorney to help you with your claim. A bus accident claim is likely to be very complex and you will want to have someone to help you to maximize your recovery. And, most personal injury attorneys will not charge you anything, taking their pay from a percentage of any recovery they make on your behalf.
If you have been involved in a bus accident, the first thing you need to do is get immediate medical attention. Typically the bus staff will be responsible for calling for assistance, but if these individuals are injured or killed, or if they refuse to contact emergency services, you should take matters into your own hands and call 911. Not only could there be a need for medical attention, but the accident needs to be reported to law enforcement so that a police report can be generated documenting the details of the accident. Also, many states require accident victims to seek medical attention within a limited period of time or their claims may be barred. Do not lose out on your claim simply by adopting a wait and see approach. If you have been in a bus accident, get checked out by a doctor, even if you do not think your injuries are that severe. In most cases, the bus company will absorb the expense of your medical visit, whether you end up suing them or not. Make sure to get tests for the back, spine, and head injuries. Often these injuries will not manifest symptoms until days or weeks later when it may already be too late to preserve your rights.
If you are able to, document what you an at the accident scene. Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, and maybe even e-mail addresses of other passengers, the driver, and any others involved in the accident. Your attorney may need to contact these people to investigate the accident claim. While the bus company may provide the names of other passengers, it may not have information for witnesses on the scene, so focus on these people first. Once law enforcement is on the scene, ask for the officer's name and, if he has one, his business card. You should also take photographs of the scene from several different angles if you can. Again, your first priority is to seek medical attention if needed, so do not waive such treatment just to document the scene. Only do this documentation if you are well enough to do so. Much of this will be documented by law enforcement, but having your own resources is usually better than having to rely on others.
Bus companies will usually have unique insurance that is more comprehensive than standard automobile insurance so that it covers all of the passengers. Your attorney will understand the special laws and requirements related to such insurance. Depending on your state and the insurance company, the policy may cover each passenger individually or it may use a single pool of money to cover the injuries and damages for every passenger. This will be significant if the passengers' injuries are significant, since a pooled policy could limit the amount of your recovery to less than your actual damages. In many cases, there may be ways to work around the limits of an insurance policy, particularly if the insurance company has made mistakes or acted in bad faith. So, again, you will want the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you with these claims in order to determine whether these limits exist and whether there are any loopholes that can be exploited to your benefit.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.