In Florida, a person has a right to be compensated if they suffer injuries in a bus accident. It may, however, be tricky to secure all the compensation you deserve. At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, our experienced attorneys can demonstrate the reasons why you should be compensated and ensure you get fair compensation. We are dedicated to working tirelessly and with high tenacity to win your case.
Since common carriers are highly used in Florida as modes of transport, many accidents involving these public transport vehicles have happened over time. Such accidents always leave passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians with injuries, medical bills, lost wages, suffering, and pain, and damage to properties or even losing loved ones.
Operators and owners of common carriers are expected to handle their clients with great care to avoid accidents caused by negligence. When an accident occurs as a result of negligence, those responsible are held liable for all the damages and harm caused. Victims of such accidents and their families have a right to seek to be compensated and have the one responsible for the accident accountable for their negligence. When a person or their loved ones are involved in a common carrier accident, they may have so many questions or have no idea what to do. Let’s delve into lawsuits involving bus accidents in Florida.
What is a Common Carrier under Law?
Under Florida laws, common carriers generally refer to buses that charge a fee to transport people as well as goods. There are the particular state and federal laws that govern these buses. The rules and regulations apply to buses, such as school buses, city buses, and commercial buses.
Can I File a Complaint After an Accident?
When an accident occurs as a result of negligence, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians can seek legal action by filing a personal injury case. Negligence in such cases refers to the failure of the bus driver or bus owning company to provide reasonable care. Reasonable care expected of the respondent differs from reasonable care expected of the passenger or complainant. One is said to be negligent if they did something that they would not have done if they were careful. This also includes failure to do something that a cautious person would have done under similar circumstances.
Whom Should I Sue if I was involved in a Bus Accident?
Sometimes one may have no idea whom they should sue once they are involved in a bus accident. This may mostly be due to the circumstances surrounding a bus accident, that is, the cause of the accident and the type of bus. There are many factors that may cause a bus accident. Driver’s fatigue is, for instance, a common cause of accidents in charter buses operating on long distances. A bus may also collide with another vehicle on the road due to other driver’s negligence. The bus may also be poorly maintained or have an erroneous design. One can, therefore, determine whom to sue depending on the cause of the accident. Generally, concerning the nature of the accident, parties that may be responsible for a bus accident include:
- Bus Driver - A bus driver is expected to have undergone thorough training before entrusting them with the duty of transporting people and goods. They are also expected not to drive with negligence. Some of the negligent behaviors by drivers may include aggressive driving, driving under the influence of drugs, speeding, and inattention, among others.
- The Bus company - The bus owning company must ensure that their buses are running safely on the roads. They are therefore expected to conduct regular maintenance. The companies should also ensure that their drivers are properly trained and satisfy the correct qualifications.
- Tour Company - Tour companies have a responsibility to ensure that the bus companies they hire are of a reputable safety record. Some circumstances in a tour bus accident may hold the tour company liable for an accident.
- State, City, or County Agencies - Such government entities may be held responsible for a bus accident in case the accident was caused by such faults as bad roads, unseen or absence of road signs, and non-functioning traffic lights, among other factors.
- Bus Manufacturer - A bus manufacturer may be held accountable for a bus accident as well. This happens when the design of the bus contributed to the occurrence of an accident.
- Third-Party Drivers - Bus passengers can sue the drivers of other vehicles that collided with the bus in an accident that resulted in injuries. The passengers have a right to sue such drivers even if their negligence partially contributed to the occurrence of an accident.
Other parties that may be responsible for an accident may include school bus or charter bus operators, driver supervisor, manufacturer of bus parts, and the company responsible for bus maintenance. There are instances where multiple respondents are held accountable for an accident. In some cases, even when the victim contributed partially to the injuries they suffer, they are still able to bring charges against the defendants.
How Fault is Determined after an Accident
When a bus accident occurs, one of the questions that we are left with is; who is responsible for the accident? While police reports and insurance adjusters may be used, they may not always be reliable to determine fault. It is, therefore, vital for one to know the process of determining fault when a bus accident occurs and leave them or their loved ones with losses or injuries. An accident that results in injuries, distress, or property damage is referred to as a tort. A tort can either be intentional or negligent. However, the most common types of torts reported are negligent torts. Proving negligence in a tort requires you to show that it was someone’s duty to perform certain reasonable acts and that they breached that duty. Some of the additional rules to this effect include:
- Comparative Fault - In the legal world, comparative negligence is a theory that every person can only be at fault for the extent of negligence they are found in. For instance, a bus approaches a stop sign fails to stop. Another speeding vehicle hits the bus, resulting in tort. In such a case, each of the drivers is at fault and will be liable for legal action.
- No-Fault - Drivers in Florida are expected to have insurance coverage, which covers the initial $10,000 (ten thousand dollars) of any injuries. This is whether or not the driver is at fault. Once this amount is paid, a victim may sue other parties responsible for the accident if need be.
- Negligent Hiring - The employer may be held accountable for an accident if their employees are found unqualified for the job. The employers should, therefore, check all the credentials of the employees.
- Vicarious Liability - Under this liability, any acts of negligence committed by an employee can be placed on the employer.
If the driver is convicted by a criminal court, it would be easier to prove that their actions were a violation of the law. Thus, you could use this judgment to hold the person accountable for your injuries.
Elements of Negligence in a Bus Accident
Although many people may have a primary understanding of the term negligence, when it comes to legal terms, they may not know the exact meaning of negligence. While bringing charges against negligence, you cannot simply accuse someone of neglect by believing they did so. You need to demonstrate the following elements of negligence to the court:
The Party Had Duty of Care
The plaintiff must show that the other party had an obligation to be reasonably careful. The drivers of common carriers are, for instance, supposed to drive carefully to avoid accidents. The bus owners are as well supposed to ensure their passengers are safe while onboard. They can employ supervisors and monitors in case the driver is unable to maintain order.
They Breached the Duty
After establishing a duty of care, one must then show the court that the party breached the duty. Some of the things that show a person violated the duty of care include fatigued driving, impaired bus, tired driver and disobeying road signs, signals, or traffic laws, among others.
You must also prove to the court that it is because of a breach of duty that caused the accident. For instance, the driver caused the accident because he was adjusting his seat while driving, or he was texting on the phone. Causation can either be direct, where the other party’s actions injured the plaintiff directly, or indirect where the actions injured the plaintiff directly.
If an act of the defendant directly caused an accident, it is referred to as a proximate cause. This act causes an accident with injuries and damages that would otherwise not have occurred in a normal circumstance.
You Suffered Damages
The plaintiff must also demonstrate that they suffered physical injuries for them to collect damages. A victim may also be entitled to receive non-economic damages in case they suffered severe damages.
What Injuries Can I Suffer From a Bus Accident?
When a bus is involved in an accident, the injuries suffered are most likely to be more severe as compared to other passenger vehicles. This is caused by several factors, including:
- Buses may lack protective features such as seat belts, rollover protection, and airbags as well as crumple zones.
- Some buses are prone to congestion. As a result, passengers may be standing inside the buses or public transport vehicles.
- Buses can easily tip over because their center of gravity is higher.
- Passengers are not able to protect themselves against an impending accident. Since they are not driving, some of these accidents will get them by surprise.
Due to the above factors, passengers on buses are vulnerable to different injuries in case of a bus accident. Some of such injuries include but are not limited to:
- Bruising, severe cuts, and lacerations
- Fractures and broken bones
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Skull fractures and concussions
- Internal injuries
- Paralysis back and neck injuries
Compensations for Common Carrier Accidents?
If you suffer injuries as a result of a bus accident, you have a right to receive damages. Damages in legal terms refer to compensation. One can receive different categories of damages. Some of these categories include:
- Special damages - These are compensations that are aimed at covering economic losses suffered by a victim. These include covering medical expenses and lost wages.
- General Damages - These damages cover sufferings and pain suffered by a victim of a bus accident.
- Punitive Damages - Though it rarely happens, a victim may also collect punitive damages. These damages are taken as a punishment for the wrongdoer in an accident. They are also meant to teach a lesson to the negligent parties and prevent such negligence in the future.
Although no sum of money can be regarded as enough compensation for injuries caused by a bus accident, the first two damages above are just meant to relief a victim of both non-economic and economic losses. Generally, after an accident, the victim may be compensated for such losses as physical and emotional pain, physical therapy, hospital bills, in-home care, court fees, and costs, medical supplies and medications, lost income, and vehicle repair, among others.
Unique Issues in Making Injury Claim Following a Bus Accident
Accidents do happen often. When you are involved in most of these accidents, there is a straightforward procedure for negotiating the settlement of personal injuries either through a court lawsuit or with an insurance carrier.
So what happens to bus accidents? In bus accidents, the negligence of other vehicles may be the cause of an accident. In such a situation, and if you get injured on the bus, one may seek damages from the negligent driver’s insurer by making a third-party claim. On the other hand, in case the bus driver is found at fault, the procedure may be a bit complicated. The reason for this is that most of the buses are operated or owned by government agencies and entities such as school districts. It gets complicated when filing a claim with the government entities. This is due to the procedures that one has to follow in making such a claim. The claim must also be filed within a short time. Though the procedures may differ in jurisdictions, one must first file a notice of claim with the responsible government entity.
Filing a Notice of Claim with the Government
In case of an accident, a notice of claim must include the following:
- A statement by the plaintiff that they desire to be compensated because they suffered injuries and property damages because a government agency or entity, a government officer, agent, or government employee was negligent.
- The claim must also describe in detail the place, time, and other circumstances surrounding the accident.
- The claim must also show the injuries and losses suffered by the plaintiff.
- Also, the claim has to provide the personal details of the plaintiff, for example, name, address, among other information.
This claim may either be rejected or accepted by the government agency. If the claim or part of it is rejected by the government, one can bring charges to court against the government.
Collecting Damages after School Bus Accident
Transporting students in school buses gives the students a non-eventful and peaceful experience. However, accidents may happen while the students are on board and cause injuries to them. In most cases, the common causes of such accidents are the negligence of the drivers or distractions on the road. Once an accident occurs as a result of negligence, the parents and students should know the legal procedure they should follow.
In a situation like this, you should consider consulting a personal injury attorney for assistance. Several statistics have shown that distractions cause large numbers of accidents. The students and the public are therefore at danger due to the possible collisions with these massive vehicles. Accidents involving these buses are mostly characterized by severe damages. Some of the distractions include mobile phones, portable televisions, or tablets, among other activities done by the drivers while driving. Such distractions may be hazardous to driving and the primary causes of injuries.
Once a school bus driver has been found at fault due to negligence, they are held accountable for the injuries and damages. Other than the driver, the school may also be held responsible for the damages that occurred. The student or their parents are entitled to be compensated. The compensatory payouts awarding is based on the evidence of negligence established by your attorney.
Charter Bus Accident
In the case of a charter bus accident, some circumstances lead to the bus company being placed at fault. The vehicle maintenance, insurance complexities as well as bus defects are some of the factors that may be considered in such an accident. In case you or your loved ones suffer injuries, or the charter company denies settlements, you may bring charges against the company. In case a bus has defects, the company is obligated to ensure that the bus is repaired or have defective parts removed. A personal injury lawyer may demonstrate before the jury how the company is at fault for the existing mistakes.
Depending on how the accident occurred, the law may hold several parties responsible for the accident. Such parties include the driver, maintenance company, and charter company, among others. The highest liability is, however, held by the charter company since they are obligated to ensure safety for their customers. To have a charter company held responsible for injuries and damages resulting from an accident, you should consider hiring a lawyer to present the charges to the court.
What Complexities can I Face While Filing Public Transit Case?
While filing a lawsuit against a publicly or privately owned common carrier, you have to consider many factors. The combination of these factors may make the process more complicated. One of the requirements while bringing charges against a common carrier is providing evidence. In case you sustain injuries inside a bus during an accident, you need to keep such evidence as tickets or badges. You should also keep the number of the bus. Gathering testimonies from other passengers on board can also help you to collect strong evidence. Pedestrians and other vehicles can use CCTV footage as a source of their evidence.
After providing evidence, it is also required that you show the extent of injuries that you suffered. You can support this by medical documentation such as receipts. In some instances, the accident might be so fatal that it causes the death of a loved one. In such instances, only the close relatives of the deceased can claim compensation. They must, however, provide identification documents. In case the bus damaged your car, you can provide all the receipts for repair and fixing charges.
It is vital to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you understand your rights and file a claim. Usually, victims tend to accept offers from the party at fault and their insurance without proper evaluation of the situation. Don’t let these parties trick you into getting undervalued benefits.
Find a Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Common carriers can result in different injuries, property damage, or traumatic conditions. Cases involving bus accidents are determined under federal and state laws. When you are engaged in a common carrier accident, you may have complexities in bringing charges against the wrongdoer. This is due to the complexities surrounding bus accident damage claims. It is important to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to have a successful claim. Our personal injury attorneys at the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney have experience in common carrier accident cases.
We can conduct investigations and evaluate the nature of the accident to establish the appropriate course of action. We can also prove the negligence of the other party to ensure that your damages are settled. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand the complexities surrounding bus accident cases and, therefore, work with determination to ensure you have a smooth process during the trial. In the case you incur injuries or losses as a result of a bus accident, contact us at 904-800-7557 and discuss your claim with one of our attorneys today.