In Florida, buses carrying students, tourists, and local commuters are a common sight. Thousands of passengers prefer to use buses because they offer a cheaper alternative to airline tickets, especially for long-distance travel. With many buses operating on Florida's highways, it is no wonder that bus accidents are common. Bus accidents have some additional safety risks compared to other forms of vehicle accidents. Unlike vehicles that have safety features like airbags and safety belts, buses do not have these features. Therefore, when an accident occurs, injuries could be detrimental. If you suffer injuries in a bus accident, you could be able to seek compensation for your injuries. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can guide you on the claim process and help you seek the best compensation.
After a Bus Accident
Even if a bus accident does not have any fatalities, it could result in many serious injuries. When an accident occurs, the bus company will act fast and try to dismiss the case. You need to understand that the bus company's insurance adjusters are not on your side and do not have your interests in mind. You could miss the compensation you deserve if you are unprepared, unsure, or uninformed about your rights after the accident. You should contact a personal injury attorney immediately after the accident occurs. An attorney will help you investigate the case and negotiate with insurance adjusters.
The circumstances after a bus accident could differ depending on whether the bus is owned by a private company or by a public entity. Another essential factor to consider is whether you were a passenger on the bus or involved in a bus accident in another manner like a collision with your car. If the bus belongs to a public entity like the State of Florida, the claim process could have some limitations.
If you were a passenger on the bus at the time of the accident, the bus company, whether private or public, owes you a duty of care. This is because, under Florida law, a bus is a common carrier. The duty of care that a bus driver or company owes to the passengers is much higher than the duty of care owed to other road users like drivers and pedestrians.
Possible Defendants in a Bus Accident
After suffering injuries in a bus accident, you can sue any party responsible for your damages and not just the bus driver:
- A bus driver could be to blame for your injuries if the bus accident occurred because of the bus driver's negligence. For instance, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or engaging in distracted driving could render the bus driver responsible for your injuries.
- The bus company or the bus operator could be liable for making the bus driver operate for long hours, beyond the recommended limit. The bus company is responsible for ensuring that their buses are in good condition. Therefore, if an accident occurs due to a poorly maintained bus, the bus operator could be liable. The company might also face charges for hiring incompetent or unqualified bus drivers.
- If the bus had undergone routine maintenance, but the maintenance company failed to notice some obvious mechanical issues, the maintenance company could be to blame.
- An accident might also occur due to poor road conditions. The entity responsible for maintaining the roads would be liable. Since the government is responsible for maintaining the roads, a bus accident involving poor road conditions would have you file a claim against the government.
How to Win in a Bus Accident Case
Winning a bus accident lawsuit can be tricky because of the many factors that go into deciding liability or fault when a crash occurs. When the bus involved in the accident is a government bus, the level of complexity increases. The majority of mass transit buses are owned and managed by the government, and this could make winning a bus lawsuit hard. However, by embracing the right tips and strategies, it is easy to win a bus accident case. Some of the proven tips that can help you win a bus accident claim are:
The jury is going to decide your case and the compensation you deserve based on the evidence available. Your attorney will also be able to fight for your charges based on the available evidence. If you have ample evidence to support your claim, the insurance adjusters will be willing to give you a fair settlement because your case is strong. Therefore, the more the evidence you have to support your claim, the higher the chance of winning the case.
You should take some photos of the scene of the accident if you can. If some witnesses are present at the scene of the bus accident, ensure that you collect their names and their contact information. Your attorney can later contact the witnesses and get some valuable evidence from them. Your attorney can also help you to follow up and obtain a police report. A police report is vital because when the police arrive at an accident scene, they conduct a thorough investigation to determine what could have led to the accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
It is essential to seek medical treatment after a bus accident, even if you do not feel as if your injuries are serious. Winning a bus accident case is getting fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries and other losses. You cannot get fair compensation if you do not have accurate information regarding the extent of your damages. Upon seeking medical treatment, it is crucial to request your doctor to document the extent of the injuries you have suffered. You could also request the doctor to formulate an accurate treatment plan. With this information, it will be easy for you to seek compensation for your medical expenses.
It is essential to seek medical treatment even if you are not sure about the extent of your injuries. When considering the medical expenses, you should not just focus on the past and the current expenses. You should also consider the expenses you are likely to incur later on, including medication and other medical supplies. If your healthcare provider recommends a specific treatment plan, ensure that you follow the plan. Ensure that you seek treatment for all injuries, even post-traumatic stress of flashbacks.
Do Not Underestimate the Value of Your Case
You should never underestimate the value of your injury case after a bus accident. It is advisable to avoid taking an early settlement before you understand the extent of your injuries. The effects of the injuries you suffer in a bus accident could linger and require you to undergo rehabilitation. You could even suffer permanent damage in a bus accident. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you are getting the compensation you deserve.
You should not limit your claim to certain types of damages. An injury could have different impacts on you, including physical, emotional, and psychological. You might not even be aware of the types of losses or injuries that you could have suffered. You can seek compensation for your physical injuries or even emotional injuries. It is essential to have a personal injury guide you in the claims process. Your attorney will help you to understand the extent of your injuries and determine the value of your claim.
A leading trick that insurance adjusters use is to offer victims an initial settlement before the victim seeks legal counsel. You should not fall for this trick. The initial settlement is usually much higher than the compensation you deserve. At first, the initial settlement offer could sound like a lot of money. However, the initial settlement offer is usually much lower than the value of your claim. It is good to consult a personal injury attorney because cases can get up to three times higher compensation than cases without an attorney. Remember that once you accept a particular settlement, you cannot go back and negotiate a better deal.
To win your injury case, you have to be honest while dealing with case investigators and insurance adjusters. You might feel tempted to stretch the truth or to leave out some details of the accident. However, you should avoid doing so because it might end up compromising your case. Providing incorrect information will send some red flags to the case investigators and the insurance companies. You should remember that the investigators could have access to numerous databases with your personal information.
It is also advisable to avoid being too eager. After suffering injuries in a bus accident, you might feel the urge to acquire the compensation check immediately. You should not act as if you are eager to get compensation. You should prove to the case investigators and insurance adjusters that you are willing to go the full distance. Before you accept or decline any offer, you should consult your personal injury attorney. Even if it means rejecting the first, second, or even the third offer, you should be willing to fight until you get a good deal.
Stay Off Social Media
When seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a bus accident, you should be careful about what you post on social media. Any information you post on social media could be used against you during the negotiation or in court. The insurance adjuster or the defendants could use any information found on your social media platforms to discredit your claim. For instance, if you suffered muscle or feet injuries, it would be contradicting to post photos of your hiking adventures on social media. If your hiking escapades happened after the accident, it could be hard for you and your attorney to prove that you indeed suffered the said injuries.
If you have to post some information on your social media platforms, ensure that it will not open an avenue for your opponents to fight your claim. Most people in the United States are aware that everything you say could be used against you in court. However, a majority of people are not aware that this phrase also involves what you say on social media or any other platform.
You cannot claim to have suffered devastating injuries, yet your social media posts tell a completely different story. Always know that the defendants, case investigators, and insurance adjusters are watching you closely. It is advisable to avoid sharing any sensitive information and allow your personal injury attorney to handle all the details.
Set Some Limits on the Minimum Offer
You must prove to the other party that you have a strong case for you to win a bus accident claim and get high compensation. If the other side offers you a minimum settlement offer, you should have some facts to support why the offer is unacceptable. Ensure that you have some supporting documents for all the assertions you make. By rejecting a settlement, you will be proving to the other party that you know the value of your claim, and you are determined to get the right compensation. Your personal injury attorney can guide you on all the crucial aspects of rejecting a settlement offer.
Before you accept a settlement from the other party, it is vital to ensure that you also consider future damages. Injuries suffered in a bus accident could inflict both immediate and future losses. Therefore, while negotiating a settlement, you should also have future losses in mind. You need to work with all the relevant parties, like medical experts, to document your future losses.
Make a Great Impression
The settlement offers the insurance adjuster will depend on the impression you make. The offer will depend on how the other party thinks that the jury will handle the case if it proceeds to trial. Typically, juries make decisions regarding accident compensation based on the available information during the trial. It is crucial to make an effort, be respectful and polite at all times. These small gestures could make the other parties feel that the jury will be sympathetic to you and give excellent compensation for your injuries. This effort could make the other party offer you significant compensation and propose that you handle the case out of court.
Do Not Succumb to Social Pressure
Currently, it has become more socially acceptable to fight for your rights and seek compensation after suffering injuries. However, after suffering injuries in a bus accident, some people might still be hesitant to make a claim. Some people might fail to file a lawsuit for fear of seeming like they are part of a compensation culture. You might fear that coworkers and friends might have the wrong perception of you. This is the exact perception that insurance companies would like you to have.
The rationale behind personal injury compensation is to help you go back to where you were before the accident. Therefore, you should not be hesitant about seeking compensation or fear about how people will perceive you. In Florida, it is your legal right to seek compensation after suffering injuries in an accident. You should never, at any point, feel ashamed of exercising your legal rights.
Do Not Handle the Claim on Your Own
If you want to handle your bus accident claim without a personal injury attorney's assistance, it is possible to do so. However, it is essential to note that you will probably be facing the insurance company as your opponent while seeking compensation. Insurance companies have insurance adjusters, who are experts in handling accident claims. It would be a bad idea to face an insurance adjuster without professional legal advice.
You might initiate the claim process on your own and seek legal counsel later when the claim process becomes complicated. However, going it alone at first, you will have already compromised your position of winning the bus accident claim. It is advisable to seek legal counsel immediately after suffering injuries in a bus accident.
While discussing your injuries with the attorney, you should ensure that you disclose all the injuries to the attorney. Even some injuries might seem minor, ensure that you give the attorney a list of all of them. You could have experienced some symptoms immediately after the injury, and then the symptoms disappeared. Ensure that you inform your attorney of all such symptoms.
By disclosing all the symptoms, your attorney will ensure that medical practitioners address these symptoms in your medical report. The medical report forms a basis for your compensation. You could ignore a minor symptom, only for the symptom to worsen with time. If you did not mention certain symptoms at the start of the lawsuit, it would be hard to prove the injuries later.
Do Not Fear if the Case Proceeds to Court
When seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a bus accident, you should not fear to settle the claim in court. While some lawsuits proceed to trial, it is possible to settle the claim out of court and still get fair compensation. Only a small percentage of personal injury cases usually end up in court.
If you and your attorney are unable to agree on a settlement with the other parties involved in the accident, the case would have to proceed to trial. Some people might be anxious about the idea of appearing in court. However, with the help of an attorney, a court experience does not have to be stressful. Your attorney can guide you on the crucial steps to follow and how to face the jury.
You should not make the defendant or the insurance adjuster realize that you are afraid of going to court. In most cases, insurance companies would rather pay a large settlement instead of having a case proceed to court.
Damages Available after Winning a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After winning a personal injury lawsuit with the help of your attorney, you will be able to recover certain damages. Some of the damages available in a bus accident settlement are:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Emotional Distress
- Loss of Enjoyment in Life
- Loss of Consortium
- Wrongful death compensation
- Pain and Suffering
Compensation for medical expenses is a reimbursement of the money you could have spent in seeking treatment for the injuries suffered in a bus accident. You will need to have supporting documents like doctors' reports to help support your case.
Lost wages would be the money you could have earned if you did not suffer injuries in a bus accident. After an accident, you might have to stay away from work as you recover from the injuries. While calculating lost wages, the jury will consider your hourly rate of pay and the number of hours or days spent out of work due to the injuries.
Loss of earning capacity is compensation for your inability to continue earning some money in the future. You might never be able to resume work after suffering injuries. Even if you can resume work, you might not be able to work as effectively as you did before suffering injuries in the accident.
You could also get compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment in life. Suffering injuries in a bus accident is a traumatizing experience that could have adverse effects on your well-being. You may not be able to take part in your hobbies or other activities that you enjoy.
You might fear socializing or frequenting public places because of the injuries. For such adverse effects on the quality of your life, you can seek compensation. It is hard to quantify non-economic damages in monetary form. However, with your attorney and medical experts' help, you can seek compensation for these damages.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
You should not settle for less after suffering injuries in a bus accident in Florida. You can follow several tips to prepare a strong personal injury claim to help you get a fair settlement. You cannot do it alone; you need to have proper legal representation. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can evaluate your case and help you seek compensation. Call us at 904-800-7557 to speak to an experienced attorney.