While traffic wrecks and other accidents involving commercial or public buses are rare, that does not mean they never happen, or that they cannot cause serious injuries and losses when they do. Unfortunately, it can be challenging after an incident like this to even figure out who should bear financial liability for the harm you sustained, let alone to successfully hold a negligent party accountable through private settlement negotiations or a lawsuit in civil court.
Support from a Bedford County bus accident lawyer may be crucial to securing a favorable result from this often-complex type of case. From beginning to end of your legal proceedings, a dedicated personal injury attorney could provide you with the guidance needed to effectively pursue your case and obtain the monetary damages you deserve.
Both commercial and public buses are considered “common carriers” under Pennsylvania law, which means the people who own and operate these massive vehicles have an even greater “duty of care” than drivers of smaller commuter cars. In addition to obeying traffic laws and acting reasonably on the road, bus drivers—as well as his or her employers—must take care to avoid recklessly or carelessly injuring bus passengers.
Because of this, a bus driver who causes a boarding passenger to fall and get hurt by accelerating too quickly away from a stop might be just as “negligent” in a legally actionable sense as a bus driver who injures a passenger by running a stoplight and colliding with another vehicle in an intersection. Additionally, the company or government entity which employed that driver may hold “vicarious liability” for the effects of an employee’s misconduct. This means that the employer stands in the shoes of the employee and can be liable for the employee’s negligent actions. Further, the employer can even be directly liable for its own negligent hiring and training practices.
Still other scenarios may involve third parties bearing partial or total fault for a bus collision—for instance, a mechanic who failed to ensure a bus was in safe working order, or another driver who crashed into a bus because he or she was driving irresponsibly. A well-practiced Bedford County bus accident attorney could help sort through available information and pursue compensation from the parties liable for a particular wreck.
Even if one or more other people bear most of the fault for a bus crash or similar accident, an injured person seeking to file suit over that incident may miss out on much-needed compensation if a court finds him or her partially to blame for the accident. In accordance with 42 P.S. §7102, a court may reduce the total damages award available to such a plaintiff in proportion to his or her assigned percentage of total fault, or bar recovery altogether if that percentage exceeds 50 percent. For example, a plaintiff who was 20% to blame will have his or her award reduced by 20%. In that instance, if the total verdict was $100,000, the plaintiff would recover $80,000. If, however, the plaintiff was 51% or more at-fault, then he or she would recover nothing.
Furthermore, 42 P.S. §5524 allows most prospective plaintiffs a maximum of two years after sustaining injury to begin any litigation they intend to file over that incident. A capable lawyer’s assistance could be vital to overcoming these kinds of procedural obstacles following a bus-related injury in Bedford County.
Accidents involving buses can be both immensely harmful in physical terms and uniquely complex in legal terms. After this kind of incident, representation from experienced legal counsel could be key not just to getting paid fairly for your losses, but often to getting any compensation whatsoever.
A conversation with a Bedford County bus accident lawyer at Marcus & Mack could provide answers to important questions and clarity about your next steps. Call today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
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