Car accidents can cause anywhere from light to severe damage to the vehicles involved; it all depends on the severity of the crash. Drivers and passengers, accordingly, will suffer minor or severe injuries. In serious car accidents, death is a sad but common occurrence.
No one takes a car accident lightly, but when a car crashes with a bus, the likelihood that there will be serious consequences rises dramatically. In fact, it is usually the car that takes the brunt of the impact.
A bus that comes into contact with your car is most likely going to cause significant damage. If you are lucky enough, it will only be your car that suffers the damage. In most cases when a car crashes with a bus, however, the occupants of the car suffer tremendously.
A bus, much like a truck, is always going to win the battle at the moment of impact, causing a greater amount of damage to the car than to itself. It is not uncommon for the driver or passengers of a bus to walk away from an accident without harm; unfortunately, that is usually not the case for the occupants of the car involved.
If you have suffered personal injury from a crash with a bus, or if you have lost a loved one for the same reason, it is important that you understand what steps you need to take to ensure your recovery and recover damages.
What Is the First Thing You Should Do After a Car Accident with a Bus?
Unless you are incapacitated, there are a number of steps you need to take after an accident with a bus. First, you should be concerned about yourself and your passengers. Treat your injuries seriously.
If you have been injured, do not refuse medical treatment, as that could cause you trouble down the road. What seems like a minor injury now could end up a major health problem in the near future. There is also the legal side of it.
Refusing medical treatment at the scene, or refusing to be taken to the hospital immediately after, could be enough of a reason to deny or limit the compensation for which you have filed in an insurance claim or lawsuit. It is not uncommon for an investigator or court to decide that your injuries are not as serious as you claim due to your refusal of immediate medical care.
The same result could happen if either you take too long to follow up on receiving treatment for your injuries, or if you are inconsistent with your appointments. For the sake of your health and your accident claim, you should keep up with your medical appointments and treatments.
Once you conclude that you are able to, you need to exchange information with the bus driver. Make sure that you know whether the driver is driving a bus owned by the city or a private company. This is important when filing a claim. Write down the driver’s ID number, if any, and the bus number and license plate.
You will need to exchange insurance information and any other important information. That includes the bus driver’s phone number, driver’s license, and address. You should also call the police if they are not already there. They will collect all the necessary information; more importantly, they will file a report that could be used later for your claim or lawsuit.
You should take photos to visually document the accident, including pictures of your car, the bus, and any skid marks. Take a photo of any injuries you may have sustained. Be sure to write down in clear detail your version of what happened, as this could prove to be an asset later on.
Do not be apologetic to the bus driver or police. Doing so could make you seem as though the accident might have been your fault. You should find any witness and collect the necessary contact information. A witness could help corroborate your account of the accident. Be sure to write down the witness’ account of the accident as well.
Once you are home, you should immediately call a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you with what you should and should not do or say. For instance, you should not offer any information to an investigator about your injuries or your account of the accident, as you are not required to do so; it could end up working against you.
Who Is Liable If You Are in an Accident with a Bus?
As previously mentioned, it matters whether the bus is owned by the city or a private company. If it is a private company, you can file a claim as you would with the owner’s insurance company. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can file a lawsuit to recover your damages.
You can sue the company that owns the bus and/or the bus driver, and you can even file a lawsuit against the manufacturer if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure. Filing a lawsuit against the repair shop responsible for repairing the bus is also a possibility.
If the bus is owned by the city, you can file a lawsuit against the city, the bus driver, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the bus driver’s union, the company responsible for repairing the buses, and the manufacturer if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations in Ohio for a negligence and personal injury claim is two years. The two years, however, could be extended if the injury takes some time to manifest.
If you have not already hired a lawyer by the time you are seriously contemplating a lawsuit, it is time to make that call. A personal injury lawyer will help you choose the right path when considering against whom you should file a lawsuit.
Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim If Need Be?
You can file a wrongful death claim for a family member if you can prove that the bus driver was negligent. Some of the damages you can claim are funeral expenses, loss of income from the deceased, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is also two years. Any immediate family member of the deceased can file the claim. That includes a spouse, parent, or child of the deceased. Extended family members cannot file a claim, but they can be attached to the lawsuit if they can first prove to the court that the death of the victim caused them to suffer a loss.
What Happens If You File a Lawsuit for Your Injuries?
Ohio is a contributory negligence state, but that requires some unpacking. It used to mean that an injured person found at fault to any degree cannot recover damages. Fortunately, that has changed since 1980.
The current standard by which the state operates, though still called contributory negligence, closely follows the test of what is known in other states as comparative negligence. This means that if you filed a claim but are found partially at fault, you can still recover damages as long as you are not found to be more than 50 percent at fault.
Using the rules of comparative negligence, the amount of damages you are eligible to receive will be lowered by your percentage at fault. Thus, if you are found to be 35 percent at fault, you may receive 65 percent of the damages awarded by the court.
What Types of Damages Are You Eligible to Receive from a Lawsuit?
You can file a lawsuit to recover economic and non-economic damages. For economic damages, you can recover medical expenses and lost wages. Make sure to keep the receipts of your medical costs, bills from healthcare providers, pay stubs and tax returns to prove your income.
For non-economic damages, you can recover damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Recovering non-economic damages is more of a challenge. You might need medical experts and other professionals, such as counselors or psychologists, to testify on your behalf.
Bus Accident Lawyers in Dayton at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent Those Injured in an Accident with a Bus.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury from an accident involving a bus or any other type of vehicle, you need a competent lawyer to represent your best interest. Our experienced bus accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC will go the distance to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (937) 222-7477 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Vandalia and Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients throughout Ohio.