We may not realize how often we use buses, from airport shuttles to casino tours to intercity transit. And as you can see from the above links, bus accidents happen and people can be seriously injured in bus crashes.
If you've been injured in a bus accident, you may be wondering if you can be compensated for your injuries, and if so, how much. While every accident case is different, some key factors may determine how much you can recover in damages.
Who's to Blame?
If you're involved in a simple car accident, it may be pretty simple to figure out who was at fault -- generally you or the other driver. Determining fault in a bus crash can be more complicated.
For example: Was the crash caused by bad driving conditions or another driver on the road? Was the bus driver negligent? Was the bus company negligent in the driver's hiring, training, or supervision? Did the manufacturer build a bad bus?
Figuring out who may be at fault is the first step in pursuing an injury lawsuit. This could also determine how much money you're entitled to, depending on whether someone was simply negligent or possibly reckless.
What Are Your Damages?
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate for a specific loss or injury, and will be based on things like hospital bills, lost wages, or damage to your personal belongings.
On the other hand, punitive damages are intended to punish, and are generally reserved for cases of outrageous misconduct with the intent to deter that conduct in the future. Normally a simple accident won't warrant punitive damages, but if the bus driver, bus company, bus manufacturer, or even another driver involved acted recklessly, then it's possible that behavior could justify punitive damages.
How Does the Law Work?
The law surrounding bus accidents can function a little differently than with a normal fender bender. First, buses are considered "common carriers," which means bus drivers are generally held to a higher standard of care than the average driver. In addition, employers may be responsible for an employee's acts under a legal theory known as respondeat superior.
In terms of limiting injury compensation, some jurisdictions have damage caps that place a ceiling on damage awards in personal injury cases. And there are legal defenses like contributory and comparative negligence that could affect whether and how much damages may be awarded.
With all of these factors, pinning a precise dollar amount on a bus accident is difficult. It may take an experienced personal injury lawyer with familiarity with your specific facts to give you a proper estimate of what your bus crash claim may be worth.