When a passenger, pedestrian, or any other road user becomes a victim of a bus accident, he or she may face very life-changing events. Bus accidents are often very severe, especially if they involve multiple injured passengers. Moreover, when a bus hits another oncoming vehicle or passenger, the aftermath is equally catastrophic. The magnitude of the injuries and damages arises from the bus’s colossal size compared to the pedestrians or cars it hits. Consequently, accident victims have the right to acquire compensation from the liable party that will help them cover the costs of the processes they undertook to recover. The injuries sustained from a bus accident are very severe and, in some cases, fatal. Therefore, as an accident victim, winning your case is essential for you to receive the monetary payment that helps you get back to your life as usual.
For you to win your civil suit, it is paramount to seek a competent injury attorney's services. Seeking the services of a lawyer sets a good starting point for winning your case. You can contact the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, who will give professional legal advice concerning your injury suit, ranging from how to deal with cross-examining subjects to representing the victim. We have a track record of successfully settled lawsuits from previous clients. Several matters and circumstances surround the bus accident that injured you, which, with your help, your lawyer will use the evidence during the trial process. There are also some tips for our clients to follow that allows you to remain composed as you give your testimony in court. With all these factors combined, you stand a better chance of winning your case. The significant factors and tips are discussed below.
Establishing the Parties at Fault
One of the most influential factors that lead to a proper case build-up is identifying the parties to the case. The identification prevents a slow judicial process that includes dismissing the case over and over for a wrong tortfeasor. Your lawyer should help you go over the accounts leading to the bus accident and establish who is to blame for the occurrence. Usually, the actions that will make a potential defendant liable must be negligent. The responsible party has a legal duty to ensure the safety of the passengers or other road users. In a typical claim for bus accident injuries, the liability falls on the:
- Bus driver
- Managers of the bus company that maintains the bus in question
- Other motorists
While these parties are the primary options to include in a compensatory suit, your lawyer may suggest a joint liability case for any other person interested in the events leading to the accident. For example, if a bus driver operated the bus negligently, but the cause of the accident is brake failure attributed to improper maintenance, both the driver and the maintenance company are answerable in court.
Dealing with an individual in the suit is more manageable. He or she has a direct line of fault, and can easily access the funds required for your compensation by engaging his or her insurance company. However, when the defendant, in your case, is the public body in charge of the commercial bus industry, several policy guidelines play a role in how the judge will determine the liability. The complexity builds when the body has employed a driver, who cannot afford to pay the monetary compensation to you as the claimant in the suit. In such a case, the insurance body is responsible for covering the driver to make the required monetary compensation. If, however, the claim you seek goes beyond the insurance company's policies, you can still sue the driver to get the outstanding amount and secure a total compensation.
Determine The Compensable Injuries to Sue in Court
A victim of a bus accident may suffer numerous severe injuries depending on the nature of the impact. While some victims are lucky to escape with minor injuries, most claimants face life-altering bodily harm that may be a result of:
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Severe fractures
More injuries may also lead to complications later on, even though they may appear minor at the time of treatment. Consequently, you need to make an accurate claim based on genuine evidence of the damage you suffer arising from the bus accident.
Attorneys must ensure that clients acquire all relevant medical documentation that serves as evidence in court. These documents include any doctor’s report you receive, copies of X-Ray images, and MRI and CT-scans. While a claimant may rely on physical evidence of injuries like bandages and other wound dressings, it is essential to be thorough and ensure that you have all the necessary medical records to prove your validity.
Besides the documentation, you should have a proper understanding of whether your injury could result in a permanent condition and whether you need to seek continuous medical treatment for a full recovery. The information will be useful to your case, especially since you are entitled to higher monetary compensation for a severe permanent injury. After the accident, recognizing the nature of your condition creates an impression of genuineness on your side as well. This knowledge is critical to creating a good impression before the judge.
Identify The Available Claims of Damages to Recover
For your case to be powerful and viable for a win, you should work hand in hand with your attorney to pick out the most transparent claims to bring forth. These compensatory claims seek to reinstate you to your original way of life before the bus accident. Therefore, for you to get an assurance of winning your case, the arguments your lawyer presents in court should be clear of any loopholes that the defendant may use in his or her favor. Some of the damages to seek compensation are:
Loss of Wages
When presenting this claim, the damage caused must be a direct result of the bus accident. An excellent example would be where you sustain a very severe injury that confines you to a wheelchair. The result of such an incident is that you cannot continue with your line of work, especially if you were highly active and required to move around frequently.
Often, connecting different incidents away from the bus accident and trying to link them as the cause of loss of wages may not be as successful. The claim, in this case, is unsuccessful because the judge refers to stringent guidelines when determining the causative aspect of an accident. Thus, if, for example, your loss of wages was caused by your refusal to accept new guidelines that accommodate your state of injury, your lawyer may face a challenge in connecting the events and placing liability on the defendant.
Wrongful Death of a Loved One
The survivors of a deceased have a legal right to seek compensation for his/her death caused by a bus accident. There are several groups of people that can access these compensatory rights, often the immediate family. Therefore, the children, spouses, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews may get in touch with a lawyer and initiate a civil suit against the defendants liable for the occurrence of the accident.
When making a compensatory claim for the death of a loved one, the law requires you to prove direct dependence on the deceased. Consequently, a successful application must include proof that the accident victim was a primary provider of the family, or had particular interests in the livelihood of the claimant, by paying school fees or making other essential payments. Your lawyer can also sue for the loss of future income that the victim would have amassed. However, it is up to the judge to evaluate the likelihood of the deceased working for a specific period before retiring.
Moreover, the aggrieved party may sue for the loss of companionship, especially if the spouse and the victim were starting a young family. You may choose to introduce the hectic schedule you have to undertake on your own and make a claim for the payment of the extra services you will require now that you lack the help of the deceased. A strong case is characterized by the claimant’s lawyer bringing forth specific claims. Thus, you could seek payment for extra babysitting or housekeeping services, coupled with the exact cost of such inclusions.
Medical Bill Payments
Naturally, victims of bus accidents have to undergo some medical attention that is important in identifying underlying injuries and treating them. During the medical treatment, you may need to spend some days, weeks, or even months in the hospital for observation of any progress you make. Additionally, because of the high impact that may injure you severely, the doctor may order an invasive surgical procedure. While surgery is not always necessary, sometimes it may be vital for your survival.
Apart from all these procedures, your road to recovery may also require constant medical supervision, with additional exercises like physiotherapy and brain exercises for victims of traumatic brain injury. Medicine is also a paramount requirement for any recovering patient, which may not be covered by your insurance coverage. Thus, while seeking compensation for all these costs, your lawyer needs an accurate and well structured fiscal report to present in court. The credibility of your case, in general, heavily relies on the transparency shown in such a statement. Therefore, it is essential to keep all records of receipts and prescription orders for the avoidance of doubt in proceedings. You should also ensure that you hand the original documents to your lawyer, to further improve on the credibility of the evidence. Organizing such records in a single folder is also advisable. You should, however, remember to have several copies of the original in case of any loss or damage.
Damage of Property
Apart from these claims, you can also seek compensation for the damage of property, if you were a motorist hit by an oncoming bus. The application of the destruction of property requires you to inquire about the services of a professional assessor who will give a credible estimate of the monetary figure you can present in your application. It helps to use this assessment report as you submit your claim in court, to avoid reference to abstract configurations. The documents also build your lawyer’s credibility when presenting your case and prevent the defendants from raising any probabilities to your disadvantage. It is common for a defendant to engage an insurance adjuster to dispense the required funds after the case. Therefore, while the proceedings are ongoing, you should raise the concern of witty and inexperienced adjusters, and request the presence of your lawyer.
Obtaining The Full Compensatory Sum
In most bus accident cases, the judge will order the claimant to meet with the defendant’s insurance adjuster and settle on a reasonable amount. The judge will order such a procedure when the facts are clear or straightforward, or when the defendant accepts full liability for the harm done. The help of your injury attorney during negotiations with an insurance adjuster is very pivotal to the turn out of the compensation you receive. As a trained professional, he or she is aware of the discreet and confusing statements hidden in the long paragraphs. Thus, even if the judge orders that the defendant makes payments to your account as compensation, an insurance adjuster will work hard to reduce the money you receive. It is, therefore beneficial, to ensure that you outwit such an adjuster and ultimately receive all the payments awarded in court.
Proof of The Defendant’s Negligence
The primary role that your injury lawyer plays in a compensatory suit is proving that the defendant acted negligently, consequently resulting in the bus accident. Typically, for the lawyer to determine that there was an aspect of negligence, he or she relies on the principles laid out in the law of Tort. A successful establishment of negligence includes an analysis of the duty of care that the defendant owed to the claimant. Your lawyer also establishes whether there was a breach of such a commitment and the possible causes of the violation of the duty. If your lawyer shows all these aspects and relates them to the cause of the accident, you will have confirmed the liability of a defendant and make your claims favorably. Here are some of the essential aspects that your lawyer must bring out to win your case.
Duty of Care
Any road user operating a vehicle is bound by the California Vehicle Code to exercise the utmost care and use discretion when faced with challenging scenarios while driving. Thus, a bus driver must comply with the regulations stipulated in the statute. Also, he or she must apply his or her professional skills on the road. Additional care must be exercised by commercial bus drivers who work for a commuter service or a school because they carry a large number of passengers and may potentially expose them to risks. You need to remember that while most accidents occur when a bus collides with another vehicle or veers off the highway and rolls over, you can also seek compensation for an accident that involved the negligent actions of a bus driver that affect you alone. Such activities include the driver acting in an unprofessional manner, contrary to the rules that govern professionals in that line of work.
Where you are a claimant who suffered an accident as a pedestrian, you can also refer to several statutes that give pedestrians the right of way and, therefore, give a bus driver the duty of care to yield to you while crossing the road.
The Breach of The Duty of Care
A breach involves doing the contrary of what the law expects, resulting in the endangerment of others or yourself. In the case of a bus accident, liability often lies on the driver after he or she loses control of the vehicle, or acts intentionally intending to injure or harm a passenger. Breaches that lead to a bus accident are characterized by hazardous actions that a driver takes. These actions often go against the guiding policies of the employing bus company or administrative body.
Often, the breach of a duty of care is caused by using excess speed on the highway, ignoring or breaking traffic light directives, and getting distracted on the road, commonly by using the phone. Such actions on the driver’s part are a source of concern in court and will play a significant role in successfully demonstrating the breach. However, as mentioned, your lawyer should also consider other actions that such a driver may take, as they can equally endanger you as a passenger and cause a severe accident. For example, if a driver picks or drops off a passenger at an unauthorized zone on the highway, closes the bus doors on a boarding passenger, or proceeds to drive the bus off before ensuring that all passengers are seated, your lawyer can introduce evidence against such actions.
Presenting a good argument before the judge requires the evidence you use to be accurate and has statutory backing that corners the defendant for his or her actions. Your lawyer can also introduce witnesses to attest to the wrongful conduct of the driver. In circumstances where another motorist is involved, the attorney must show that such a driver violated primary law provisions set in place to prevent the occurrence of an accident. An example is where the attorney proves that a driver had exceeded a set speed limit, which posed a threat to other road users and ended in the occurrence of a bus accident.
Applying The Pure Comparative Negligence Rule
In the state of California, the law of negligence applies the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. Essentially, this means that where a plaintiff may have had some contributory negligence that played a part in causing the accident, he or she can still receive compensation. However, you should not expect full payment where you are found to have contributory negligence because, by logic, you cannot benefit from your wrongs.
However, your lawyer can prove that the contributory negligence was unintentional, especially if it is coupled with several other events that happened consecutively. Such a line of reasoning may successfully increase the percentage of the compensation you are entitled to since it is not fixed at the 50-50 mark against the defendant. Therefore, if your attorney makes a strong presentation, you could receive well over three-quarters of the total amount, while the defendant gets the remaining half.
Making a Good Impression
While a lot of emphasis is put on the legal techniques that help you win a civil suit, you should also ensure that you do your best to give the judge a good impression of yourself. While we may not always like to admit it, our basic human nature makes us judge people long before making a justified conclusion about them. Thus, it is vital to present yourself as the claimant in a cordial way, by remaining calm as the defendant’s attorney cross-examines you and managing your temper when he or she probes you.
Also, you should try your best to avoid getting emotional while testifying, because it can hinder your train of thought and make you forget important events that help build up your case. Consequently, you should try to avoid incorporating emotions as you try to recall past events, especially where the bus accident was traumatic. Having a clear mind will also help you to detect any loopholes in the defendant’s narrative, subsequently enabling you to pick out important elements that others may have missed out on.
A good impression also involves observing the stipulated time limit to bring forth a suit, to void complications in making the applications. The California Statute Of Limitations avails twenty-four months from the time of a bus accident for an accident victim to lodge a case against the defendants. When you delay in contacting your attorney to apply for a suit, the entire process may become strained, as the judge will question the urgency of your monetary claims. Thus, you should not hesitate to contact your lawyer immediately if the accident occurs.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Sometimes, accidents are inevitable, especially when you lack direct control of a vehicle like being a bus passenger. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we understand the devastating effects of a bus accident and help our clients receive the compensation you require. Our lawyers have vast experience in the field and know all the insightful practice techniques that will assure you a win on your case. We will be happy to hear from you and help you navigate the litigation process. Contact us today at 714-876-1959.