Do I have a claim?
If you were a passenger on a bus that was involved in an accident and were injured, unless you contributed to the accident in some way, you are eligible to make a claim to be compensated for damages. If negligence on the part of the bus driver caused the accident, you will be able to recover damages from the bus company or the municipality that owns the bus. If the accident was caused by the driver of another vehicle, that is the person you will sue. Remember though, just because you were in an accident does not mean you automatically have a case. There must be actual negligence on the part of someone, and you must have sustained an actual injury that can be documented
How do I file?
First, don’t negotiate on your own with the representative of the insurance company who will contact you. They will offer a low amount to settle. It is important that you hire an attorney familiar with the ins and outs of a vehicular personal injury case. Attorneys handling personal injury cases do not require a retainer; they will be paid out of the settlement or jury award, and only if you win the case.
Regardless of the apparent circumstances surrounding the bus accident, most attorneys will automatically sue both the owners and the drivers of all vehicles involved in the accident. So both the bus company and the bus driver will be served in most cases, as well as the drivers and owners of any other vehicles involved in the accident. Sometimes the government entity responsible for maintaining the road and the traffic signals and signs will become a party to the action, for example, if the accident was caused due to a traffic signal malfunction.
If further investigation shows that the fault was not exclusively with one party or the other, and there is negligence on the part of two or more parties, they will each contribute to the award, based on the percentage of the total responsibility for the accident.
I’m in pain, but the x-rays show nothing broken. Do I still have a case?
Probably. The most common type of injury in this kind of accident is whiplash, a painful soft tissue injury. It is important that you visit your doctor regularly as long as you are in pain, and fill your prescriptions. Your medical records will document that you are still suffering as the result of the accident.
What can I do to assist my attorney with the claim?
Take the names and addresses of any witnesses to the accident. Get the names of the bus company and the driver, along with the route number and the plate number of the bus. Take photos of the accident scene and the surrounding area. If there is another vehicle involved, try to get the name, address, license, registration, and insurance carrier of the driver.
Keep a record of any losses incurred due to the injury. This will help your attorney get a better idea of how much compensation you are entitled to. Include medical costs, prescriptions, braces or other medical devices, lost pay, household help, and any other expense related to your injury.
Keep all medical appointments as long as you are in pain.