Buses are essential forms of transportation for people of all ages. Unfortunately, motor coaches and buses pose particular hazards that many people underestimate.
The substantial size of buses means that they can be awkward to maneuver and have large blind spots, concealing other vehicles. They are also top-heavy, making them more susceptible to rollovers. Many buses do not have seat belts and may result in passengers suffering severe injuries in an accident.
If you were harmed in a bus crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses caused by the collision with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. A State College bus accident lawyer could identify the liable parties in the accident and hold them responsible for your losses.
Who is Responsible for Damages in a Bus Wreck?
In order for an injured person to recover damages for the losses he or she suffered in an accident, he or she must show that another party’s negligence directly caused his or her harm. Establishing negligence requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting in the claimant’s compensable losses. In public transportation collisions, the responsible party could be the bus driver, the bus company, or the bus manufacturer.
All drivers owe everyone on the roads a duty of care, including bus drivers due to their role as a common carrier. Bus drivers breach the duty if they fail to obey traffic laws, drive while fatigued or under the influence, or do not maintain the vehicle properly. Bus companies could be found liable based on their role as the employer of the driver, as well as on a separate negligence theory if it is determined that the company failed to provide proper training or failed to follow appropriate hiring processes, resulting in an unprepared or reckless driver. A skilled local attorney could analyze the circumstances of the bus wreck to identify the exact cause.
What Kinds of Evidence Could Be Key to Recovery?
Some aspects of investigation are the same as any other motor vehicle accident case. In addition to collecting evidence from the scene of the incident, like photos of crash damage and skid marks, recordings from nearby security cameras, and potentially physical debris, a skilled lawyer could also seek out surveillance footage from the bus involved in the crash. Lawyers will also obtain eyewitness testimony, subpoena the report filed by the police officer who responded to the scene, and possibly work with an accident reconstruction expert to piece together a timeline of events.
Comparative Negligence in Common Carrier Crashes
Pennsylvania follows a comparative negligence system to establish the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive following an accident. 42 P.S. §7101. A judge or jury will decide how much responsibility for the accident lies with each party.
If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent responsible, he or she will be barred from financial recovery. If the fault lies primarily with the defendant, the plaintiff can make a recovery, but the court will reduce the award the claimant receives by the degree of responsibility assigned to the plaintiff.
It is up to the parties to persuade a judge or jury who bears the most responsibility for an accident. A compassionate State College accident attorney could present the injured person’s case in a way that reduced his or her percentage of fault.
What Damages Could Be Recoverable After a Bus Crash?
A dedicated State College bus wreck attorney could factor both economic and non-recoverable losses into a comprehensive settlement demand or civil lawsuit. Recoverable economic damages may include medical expenses, costs associated with car repairs or replacement, lost work wages, and loss of future earning capacity, while non-economic damages include physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of the enjoyment of the pleasures of life.
However, in lawsuits filed against municipal authorities, a cap of $500,000 applies to all non-economic damages.
Statute of Limitations in State College
In Pennsylvania, people involved in public transportation collision have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If they fail to file a claim within that time, they may lose the right to sue, even if liability is clear.
There are much stricter requirements if one or more of the defendants is a government entity. Because many bus accidents involve school districts or municipal transportation authorities, these more stringent rules will apply in those cases.
Pursuant to 42 P.S.§ 5522, before suing a government entity, an injured person must submit a written notice of claim within six months of the incident. This notice is a written statement that must include, among other things, the plaintiff’s contact information, a description of the loss, and the name and contact information of the physician who treated the claimant.
If a plaintiff fails to submit the notice of claim, the court may refuse to hear any lawsuit against the governmental defendant, even if the two-year statute of limitations has not expired. An experienced bus accident attorney in the area could get all necessary paperwork filed on time to avoid this harsh result.
Seek Guidance from a State College Bus Accident Attorney
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. It is especially challenging in a bus accident case, where there might be many responsible parties, all trying to get you to settle for less than your case is worth.
A seasoned local personal injury attorney could confidently negotiate with all the potentially liable parties to get you a fair settlement. If you have suffered losses as a result of a bus accident, seek help right away. Call to discuss your case with a State College bus accident lawyer.