Bus accidents often cause life altering injuries. The Virginia Bus Accident Guide was created by Virginia personal injury attorney Michael Strong to help residents protect their rights.
Were you seriously injured in a bus accident and don’t know what to do next? You will know that bus accidents are serious affairs. City buses, school buses, and tourist buses can all be involved in accidents that cause injuries to those on the bus, other vehicles and their drivers, and to pedestrians. While these giant, heavy vehicles can cause life-changing injuries, bus accident cases can be complicated because of who may own or who may be contracting the use of the bus. If you or someone you love is involved in a bus accident, schedule a free consultation with our Virginia bus accident lawyer. We’ll talk with you about the specific facts of your case.
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Different Types of Bus Accidents
There are several different types of bus accidents. Generally, bus accidents are categorized either by the type of bus or by the cause of the accident. Bus accidents may:
- Involve a public transit bus
- Involve a tour bus or a chartered bus
- Involve a school bus
- Be caused by driver error
- Be caused because the bus company or agency hired someone without proper training or other issues that should have prevented them from being hired
- Be caused by poor maintenance or a faulty part
- Be caused by a safety violation
What Are the Most Common Injuries?
The most common injuries depend on whether the victim was in another vehicle, a bus passenger, or a pedestrian. Overall, the most common injuries are:
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Abrasions and lacerations
Can the Government Be Sued?
One of the most common questions we’re asked is if a city government can be sued because one of their public transit bus drivers caused an accident. We’re also asked a similar question when school buses are involved. Can a school district be sued? There is a concept known as sovereign immunity. This means that certain entities that are run by the government may not be sued. However, there are times when sovereign immunity is waived in these sorts of accidents. If you’re involved in an accident involving a public transit vehicle or a school bus, schedule a free case evaluation with our Virginia bus accident lawyer to learn more about whether you have a viable claim.
Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses play an important part in our lives here in Virginia. They help people get to where they need to be. They take people on group outings. Most bus drivers do their very best to drive a way that is safe. Yet, accidents still happen. The most common causes include:
- Driver fatigue
- Negligence of the bus driver
- improper maintenance which creates an unsafe vehicle
- Defective parts
Frequently Asked Questions | Virginia Bus Accident Guide
What Should I Do If I’m Injured in a Bus Accident?
Our law firm recently helped a client to follow through the process of recovery in a serious injury case involving a bus collision in Virginia. In those cases, it’s very important that when you have serious injuries, you seek help of counsel in order to help you find the right medical care to recover from your injuries. Usually, in a bus accident case, you don’t have the ability to have a MedPay coverage or other kinds of early insurance recoveries that are available to you to help pay for the cost of your medical care. Still, in today’s world, it’s very frequent among bus riders that they don’t have independent health insurance that’s available to pay for medical care. Finding an attorney to help you with those kinds of serious injury cases can mean all the difference between a full recovery and a potentially permanent injury. It’s very important to seek that legal counsel as quickly as possible to get the right medical team to assist you in achieving a full recovery from your bus accident injuries.
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What Mistakes Should I Avoid?
Bus accident claims have a variety of special requirements because buses are often operated by government entities. As a result, it’s very important that you seek legal counsel immediately in order to avoid failing to notify the state or county that operates the bus system of your claim in writing promptly enough. Some of those time limits can be as short as six months following the date of your crash.
Getting proper counsel to write that notice and write it correctly according to all of the technicalities in the statute of notification is extremely important. Other mistakes that we often see are not filing a claim with the bus operator quickly enough so that they have a record of your involvement in an accident on their bus and are on notice to preserve evidence about your case. Other problems that we often see or mistakes that are made are that people do not seek counsel quickly enough to muster all the evidence involved in how the crash occurred because bus crushes like any other crash is dependent on proving someone was negligent or legally at fault to cause the accident. For all of those reasons, it’s very important for you to avoid those mistakes by retaining counsel quickly.
How Do I Choose the Right Attorney for Me?
We at the Strong Law Firm recently resolved a case on behalf of a client who wanted to pursue a claim for personal injuries against the metro bus system. We were selected by our client because of our prior experience in handling claims against the metro system. That system is one of the most difficult organizations to pursue for personal injury claims in the entire state of Virginia. The reason for that is simply that they’re subject to a special pact under Virginia law that allows a limitation of the claims and the evidence that can be used against them.
In our case, the passenger struck his head on the back of the bus wall because the bus was actually rear-ended by another metro bus because the driver of the following bus fell asleep at the wheel. Believe it or not, under the law in Virginia, we were not allowed to introduce testimony about the training practices and vetting practices used by the metro system to determine the fitness of its drivers to get behind the wheel of a bus. In those cases, it’s extremely important if you have a claim against a metro bus that you contact a thoroughly experienced legal team to represent you in going after the bus company. I’m glad to report that we had a very successful recovery against the metro system for our client.
What is the Difference Between a Car and a Bus Accident?
Bus accidents are much like commercial trucking accidents in that the driver has to be thoroughly trained, properly licensed, and have extra regulations to abide by compared to regular drivers in automobile cases. It’s fair to say that bus collision cases are far more complex to investigate than an ordinary automobile crash. The second thing that tends to occur in bus accidents that make them extraordinary is that when a bus crash occurs, there are far more claims from many passengers compared to the ordinary private automobile case. As a result, the evaluation of injuries and the allocation of how much money from the bus insurance policy will be paid to each claimant becomes far more complicated. In those cases, it’s extremely important to get a properly experienced bus accident attorney in Virginia on your case as early as possible so that you get the maximum benefits under what may be a very limited recovery from the bus insurance policy.
What Steps Should I Take to File a Claim?
These types of claims are often made against government entities. Therefore, one of the first steps that are required is to put the government entity that operates the bus system on notice of your claim in writing. That writing has to have special components to it that state the time, exact location, as well as the parties involved in the accident in Virginia.
In addition, the other steps that are typically involved are preserving the electronic evidence that may be available from the bus itself as to how the accident occurred. Because buses, just like any other vehicle in Virginia, you have to prove negligence in order to recover from the bus company. Other steps that are required are following through with the medical care, documenting the medical history of recovery from this injury, and making a proper demand and filing suit within the two-year statute of limitations. All of those steps are required in almost every bus accident case, particularly if you have more serious injuries.
Should I Speak to the Insurance Companies?
Recently, I was contacted by a client who had a claim against a bus company asking if it was okay for that person to respond to an insurance adjuster’s call asking for a recorded statement. In that case, I told my client, and I tell everybody that I meet with about bus accident cases, that really there is no requirement that you submit to a recorded statement with any insurance adjuster involved in a bus accident investigation. Secondly, there’s usually a good reason why the insurance adjuster is contacting you and that is to try to reduce the value of your case or somehow find information that suggests that you were not taking proper care of yourself in the circumstances of the collision. For that reason, they can deny your claim outright. Virginia is one of only four states in the entire country that still adopts what is often referred to as contributory negligence law. That’s simply a law that says you can recover $0 for an injury claim if you’re at all at fault in causing the crash or in any other way not taking reasonable care for your own recovery. For those reasons, it’s very important not to submit to a recorded statement from the bus company, because their sole purpose in doing that is to try to eliminate your claim.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer?
Occasionally I’m approached by a client who seeks legal representation for a bus accident injury claim asking if they should accept an offer that’s made early on in the case by the bus company. In those cases, I typically say it’s not a good idea to accept an early settlement offer from a bus company, simply because, at the early stages of recovery, you don’t know if you have identified all of the injuries or whether you will successfully recover from all of those injuries at the time you’re offered the settlement money. Ordinarily, it’s not a good idea to accept the first offer. Insurance companies make a living off of reducing the amount of claim payments they make as a general rule. The first offer is usually never the last offer. The last offer is the one I’d rather take because it will pay more for the injury claim to a fuller extent and a fairer extent under the law.
Can I File a Claim if My Child Was Injured on a School Bus?
If your child has been involved in a school bus accident in Virginia, you may have a question as to whether you have a right to seek recovery for injuries to your child from that collision. In Virginia, it is possible to sue a bus operator for injuries from a student because in most cases, there’s a separate contract with the busing company and it’s not operated by the school system itself. Some jurisdictions in Virginia, however, are operated by county systems or are operated by the actual county itself. In those cases, it’s more difficult to establish a claim against the county for those types of injuries. Certainly, there are special notice requirements that are involved in those cases as well. In some instances, you may be barred from pursuing a claim against the county because of the doctrine of governmental immunity. In those cases, it’s extremely important that you seek counsel quickly to determine what your rights are under the applicable law and given the bus system that was involved in the crash.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The first thing that has to be said is that there is a two-step process to preserving your rights to file a claim for a bus accident injury in Virginia. The first step is to put the government entity operating the bus system on notice of your claim. That has to be done within six months under some of the jurisdictional requirements applicable to certain bus companies in Virginia. You still have to file a lawsuit within two years of the claim. In those cases of private bus companies, there’s not an advance notice requirement; however, it’s very important that you send an electronic evidence preservation letter almost immediately after the accident to preserve that important evidence of how the crash occurred. For those reasons, the outside limit may be two years, but there are steps that need to be taken far earlier than that in most Virginia bus accident cases.
How Much is My Case Worth?
The most important question I’m often asked about bus injury claims in Virginia have to do with, what the value of the case is or how much someone will receive as a result of a settlement of this claim. Those questions can best be answered by looking at the injuries that you’ve actually sustained. When you look at those injuries, it’s important to note whether the injury is permanent, what the cost of the medical care was to recover from that injury, what wage losses you’ve incurred, what disabilities you may have as a result of the injuries that you sustained, and other inconveniences of life that you’ve had to suffer through as a result of the injury that you had in that bus collision.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Accidents involving buses are usually a more severe in terms of the injuries that are caused to passengers on the bus. In those cases, you frequently see that the case will take a year to two years to resolve simply because the severity of the injuries require a longer time in the medical recovery process and a longer time in legal analysis of what occurred in the crash. Then finally, there is the issue of how we fairly allocate the insurance money applicable to the bus across a number of different people who also were injured in the same collision. For those reasons, bus accident claims tend to take longer. It also means they’re more complex and you have a greater need for help in resolving that type of claim.
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Bus accidents are complicated. To learn more about your potential claim, and how you can protect your legal right, call us now. The consultation is 100% free and confidential.