San Luis Obispo Bus Accident Lawyers
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San Luis Obispo Bus Accident Lawyers
We see school buses on the roadway, but many types of buses operate on roadways in San Luis Obispo. Tour buses from out of state, SLO Transit bus lines, and Megabus, Flixbus, Greyhound, and Amtrak all operate bus lines in the San Luis Obispo area.
We think of them as safe, which is why so many people take them. Every once in a while, however, something goes wrong. A bus driver nods off at the wheel. A bus company fails to check references and hires a driver with a bad accident history. The driver of another vehicle plows into a bus.
Then an insurance company offers you what seems like a lot of money. Chances are, however, that the insurance company is actually trying to minimize your claim and settle for less than you may be entitled to for your injuries—and that the settlement won’t begin to cover all of your bills.
POSSIBLE FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS FOLLOWING A BUS ACCIDENT
Often, victims of a bus accident are unfamiliar with what type of damages they may be eligible to collect. However, the financial damages you suffer following a bus accident can be serious and put your entire family’s future at risk. Mounting hospital bills, lost time from work, costs associated with rehabilitation are just a few of the issues you may be facing. While this can feel frustrating, you should understand many of these costs may be eligible for reimbursement.
Some of the potential damages you could recover include:
- Medical bills – In addition to any emergency treatment costs, you may be able to recover out of pocket costs for specialists, tests that are run to understand the extent of your injuries, costs associated with prescriptions for pain and infection, and costs associated with getting back and forth to appointments. Obviously, if you are hospitalized for any period of time, you can try to recover the costs of your care.
- Lost wages – Whether you are out of work for a week while recovering, or you are unable to return to work for several months or worse, you are unable to return to work at all, you may be able to collect lost wages. Should you be unable to return to work, then future wages may also be recoverable.
- In-home care and assistance – If your injuries interrupt your ability to do normal household duties such as caring for your children, performing household tasks like lawn maintenance, or housework and you have to hire an outside party, you may be able to recover those costs as well.
- Pain and suffering – In some instances you may be able to recover financial damages for pain and suffering. Sometimes people who are involved in car accidents or bus accidents find they have as challenging a time recovering from the emotional trauma as they do from the physical trauma suffered.
Families who lose a loved one after a bus accident may be able to seek additional compensation for loss of companionship, unexpected funeral and burial costs, and other expenses. Seek the advice of an attorney so you understand what options you have available to you. Remember, the more serious the injury, the more likely you are to have very high expenses associated with care and recovery.
ESTABLISHING LIABILITY FOLLOWING A BUS ACCIDENT
After an accident, if you are planning to file a personal injury claim, you must first make sure fault can be established. When an accident involves a bus, there are potentially multiple parties who may be liable for your injuries. Some of these parties include:
- Bus operator – The driver may be at fault if they were speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving distracted, or failed to obey traffic signals.
- Bus company – The company responsible for the bus can also be partially liable. This can get complicated, particularly if the bus is owned by a government entity. However, they may be responsible for poor training, lax rules, or allowing unqualified drivers to operate a bus.
- Maintenance company – If a third party performs bus maintenance, and the accident resulted from poor maintenance, the maintenance company may bear liability to you.
Multiple entities or persons may bear liability for the injuries you sustained in a bus accident. For example, a bus company may fail to follow proper maintenance schedules and the maintenance company fails to perform the necessary maintenance. However, if the driver of the bus is aware of such failure, they may be obligated to refuse to operate the bus.
The complex nature of a bus accident makes it a necessity for those who suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a bus accident to work with personal injury attorneys like ours, with a proven track record of obtaining results for our clients.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FOLLOWING A BUS ACCIDENT
In the aftermath of every accident, a great deal of confusion can ensue. The first thing you need to do is to ensure your safety. Assist others if you can do so, but then take the following steps immediately after an accident:
- Reporting to law enforcement – A police report is necessary after any type of roadway accident
- Document the scene of the accident – Photographs of the area including street signs, damages to all vehicles involved in the crash
- Obtain information from witnesses and other drivers – You should get information from drivers and passengers involved in the accident including driver license numbers, license plate information, and insurance information.
- Seek medical attention immediately – Once you have spoken with law enforcement officers, seek immediate medical care. Make sure you inform the attending physician you were involved in a bus accident.
Once you take these steps, make sure you keep a record of all medical care you received in connection to injuries sustained in a bus accident. This includes any information the doctor shared with you, copies of your records, and dates and times of all related visits to the doctor. It is also a good practice to record any changes in your physical or emotional health following an accident.
INSURANCE COMPANIES AND ACCIDENT REPORTING
When reporting the accident to the insurance company, exercise caution. The insurance company is likely to ask you several questions that you may believe are part of the report, but are specifically designed to get you to take partial responsibility for the accident and minimize the extent of your injuries. Speak with an attorney who has experience handling San Luis Obispo bus accidents before you speak with the insurance company, since this can help protect your rights.
Another word of caution about insurance adjusters and the companies they work for: Keep in mind, they are in the business of minimizing the amount of settlements they make on claims. Insurers are more interested in protecting their shareholders and their bottom lines than they are in protecting victims of a bus accident, so keep that in mind when discussing the accident with them. Never sign any documents presented to you from an insurer without having them reviewed by a competent personal injury attorney.
EVALUATING BUS ACCIDENT STATISTICS
More than 99,000 buses are registered to operate on California roadways. This is more than were registered in any other state in the United States. What these statistics do not tell you, however, is the number of accidents that occur involving a bus, and the high frequency of those accidents.
Across the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 15,000 bus accidents that resulted in an injury during one recent year. This included more than 200 accidents that resulted in a fatality on U.S. roadways.
The breakdown of fatalities by type of bus included:
- School bus accidents resulting in fatalities: 73
- Motor coach accidents resulting in fatalities: 13
- Regional Transit bus accidents resulting in fatalities: 95
- Van style bus accidents resulting in fatalities: 32
- Unknown or other bus accidents resulting in fatalities: 19
These statistics should give everyone pause, whether you are a passenger in an automobile accident, in a motorcycle accident, a passenger or driver/rider in a bus bus accident, or a pedestrian. Nearly 25,000 people suffered an injury after being involved in an accident with a bus. When you consider the size of a bus versus a motor vehicle, or the lack of protection offered to pedestrians and motorcycles when involved in a bus accident, these statistics are not as surprising as they should be.
BUS TRANSPORTATION AND SEAT BELTS
Many buses do not have to comply with seat belt laws, and as a result, a passenger on a bus is at greater risk if they are involved in a bus accident.
This may seem to contradict the law passed in 2018 that requires a commercial bus passenger to wear a seat belt. That law, however, does not require school buses to comply with restraint laws until 2035, according to a news report.
There is little doubt that the availability of public transportation helps keep air pollution levels down, lessens congestion on the roadways, and offers those who either prefer to not drive, or do not drive an alternative means of transportation. However, the lack of proper restraints also means there is a greater likelihood of someone suffering an injury in the event a bus is involved in an accident.
TYPES OF INJURIES SUFFERED IN A BUS ACCIDENT
We all understand every accident is different, but a bus is not exempt from a catastrophic crash. Additionally, the size of a bus, the lack of airbags and seat belts in some cases, and the higher risk of a rollover mean the risk of a serious injury can be higher when you are involved in an accident involving a bus.
Some victims of a bus accident could suffer:
- Spinal cord injury and herniated disks
- Soft tissue damage and internal bleeding
- Burns from hot surfaces or vehicle fires
- Whiplash and brain injuries
- Lacerations and torn ligaments
- Broken bones and severed limbs
- Loss of life
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS
We all understand operating a vehicle means we must pay attention to what is going on around us on the road. We also know drivers are human whether they are operating a car, truck, or a bus. That means they can miss other vehicles on the roadway, miss obstacles that can cause a wreck, or they may be distracted due to cell phones or other electronic devices. Bus drivers also must pay attention to the blind spots that are unique to larger vehicles to avoid other issues.
A lack of proper driver training may also be a factor in a bus accident. Other factors include operating at dangerous speeds, drowsy driving, poor bus maintenance, and faulty tires or brakes. Any motor vehicle can have factory defects that can result in an accident, and a bus is no exception.
THE BENEFITS OF CALLING OUR SAN LUIS OBISPO BUS ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
If an accident results in you losing time from work—either because you’re injured, grieving from the loss of a loved one, or caring for a hurt child—you may wonder if it makes sense to hire a lawyer. After all, your income is limited and the last thing you want to think about is draining your savings account to pay attorney fees.
Our San Luis Obispo bus accident attorneys will review your case free of charge. Once we complete the initial review, if we are the right fit for each other, we will accept your case on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay any attorney fees unless we can obtain a settlement on your behalf.
It is never a good idea to go up against an insurer alone, because you can rest assured they have a high-priced lawyer working on their behalf—especially the ones working for a bus company or government entity that operates a public bus system.
You can level the playing field by working with our San Luis Obispo bus accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys. Call us at (619) 237-3490 or email us now for a free case evaluation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
1334 Chorro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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