Bus accidents may be rare, but they often result in life-changing injuries that could cause physical, financial and emotional upheaval. Typically, public and private bus operators have insurance policies with much higher policy limits than an individual auto insurance policy. Settlements and jury awards in bus accident cases could climb up to millions of dollars depending on the circumstances of the incident, the facts of the case, the degree of negligence involved and the extent of injuries and damages sustained.
Each bus accident case is different and a number of variables are likely to affect the economic and non-economic damages victims may be able to seek. The Los Angeles bus accident lawyers at the Vaziri Law Group are here to help bus accident victims and their families navigate the complex legal aspects of these cases and help them secure maximum possible compensation for their losses.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- What Are The Average Damages In Bus Accident Claims?
- Recoverable Damages In Bus Accident Claims
- What Is The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
- Economic Damages
- Non-Economic Damages
- Causes of Bus Accidents
- Common Injuries Caused by Bus Accidents
- Factors That Influence a Bus Accident Settlement Calculation
- Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Lawsuit
- How Long Does it Take To Settle Bus Accident Lawsuits
- Getting Help With Your Claim
What Are The Average Damages In Bus Accident Claims?
There is no one way to determine the average compensation for a bus accident lawsuit. There are a number of variables that could factor into the settlement. Each case in unique with its own set of facts and circumstances. For example, if you suffer a broken arm in the bus accident, you will likely receive less compensation that someone who suffered a limb amputation and loss use of their arm permanently.
The value of your bus accident case typically depends on the nature and extent of injuries, the impact your injury has on your life and livelihood and the type of emotional damage you have suffered because of it. The average damages in a bus accident case could range from thousands of dollars to millions. A wrongful death claim from a bus accident could be worth millions of dollars as well depending on the circumstances and facts.
Most cases settle in the five- or six-figure range because they are settled out of court and don't often go to trial. You need a bus accident lawyer on your side who is a skilled negotiator and will leave no stone unturned in fighting for maximum compensation in your case.
Regardless of the type of bus accident, there is no straightforward way to determine the average compensation in a bus accident lawsuit. There are a number of factors that might play a role in the eventual settlement amount. Each case is unique even when the injuries and circumstances of the collision may be similar. For example, if you suffer a broken arm and play piano for a living, you may receive more compensation because you require the use of your arm to make a livelihood compared to someone who can work even when his or her arm is broken.
Recoverable Damages In Bus Accident Claims
The cost of being injured in a bus accident can add up very quickly. If you have suffered injuries such as sprains or strains or a fracture, you may recover within a few weeks. But, even when the injuries are not serious or life threatening, you may likely lose time off work and incur medical expenses and cost of rehabilitative treatment such as physical therapy. When you suffer major injuries, those costs can potentially skyrocket.
In California bus accident cases, it is fairly common for multiple parties to be held liable. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the bus driver, the bus company, the manufacturer of a defective vehicle part or a governmental entity such as a city, municipal agency or school district.
A knowledgeable California bus accident lawyer can help determine fault and liability in your case and establish if negligence was a contributing factor. This may involve gathering and compiling evidence, speaking to accident reconstruction experts and others whose specific knowledge or experience could help substantiate your bus accident claim.
What Is The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
Economic damages refer to quantifiable expenses and financial losses that are incurred as a direct result of the bus accident.
Examples of economic damages include the medical expenses you incur as a result of the bus accident injury; lost income due of days of work missed because of the injury; property damage sustained; loss of ability to earn a living because of catastrophic injuries that might prevent you from working; loss of benefits such as health insurance or pension; and loss of employment. Non-economic damages on the other hand, refer to those losses, which are devastating, but on which you cannot put a price.
Medical expenses: Medical expenses could cover everything from emergency room costs and emergency transportation to hospitalization, surgery, testing, cost of prescription medication, medical equipment, etc. Your past, current and future medical expenses could also be included in a personal injury claim. The extent of your injuries will be one of the main factors in determining the value of your case. So, it is crucial that you properly document your injuries and see medical attention so your medical records are well documented. An experienced bus accident lawyer can help you compile and present all of your evidence.
Fractures: These are injuries that are extremely common in bus accidents because there is the potential for people to get thrown around and suffer blunt-force trauma in bus crashes. While fractures or bone breaks may not be fatal, they could potentially result in chronic pain or disfigurement. Fractures also require rehabilitative therapy or treatment to restore strength, function and flexibility to the injured body part. This means you may not be able to work until you fully recover from your injuries.
Brain or spinal cord injuries: These are more serious injuries that could result in permanent or long-term disabilities. Brain injuries and spinal cord trauma could require surgeries, hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation. In cases where individuals have suffered paralysis, they may need round-the-clock nursing care and equipment that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Future medical expenses: These are special damages that may be awarded as part of a victim's total recovery in a bus accident claim. For accident victims who recover within a few weeks or even months, future medical care may not even be necessary. However, for those who have suffered life-changing injuries, they may require additional surgery or ongoing treatment. Future medical expenses help cover the cost of ongoing treatment and care to help these seriously injured victims heal.
Lost wages: If you missed work as a result of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of income. If the accident forced you to quit your job, switch careers or to take on a lower-paying position, you may be able to seek compensation for loss of earning capacity or loss of livelihood as well.
Property damage: If a bus hit your vehicle, it was likely damaged or even totaled. You may be able to receive compensation to repair or replace your vehicle. If you were on a bus when the crash occurred, you may be able to receive compensation for any property you had with you that was damaged or lost.
There are damages bus accident victims suffer that cannot be assessed with a dollar value. However, it is still possible to quantify them. One example of non-economic damages is the physical pain and mental suffering victims suffer in the aftermath of a bus crash.
In addition to the physical injuries, victims also suffer psychological and emotional effects such as depression, anxiety, breakdown of family relationships, etc. Your bus accident lawyer will be able to help you receive damages for these types of losses, which are real and devastating.
Causes of Bus Accidents
Some of the common causes of bus accidents in Los Angeles include:
Speeding: When a bus is being operated at a speed higher than the posted limit or at a speed that is unsafe, a collision might occur. Because of the size and weight of the bus, occupants of other passenger vehicles who are struck by it could suffer significant injuries.
Distracted drivers: If a bus driver is distracted as a result of looking at a cell phone or texting while driving, the risk of a crash increases. Other types of distractions include eating or drinking while driving, checking a GPS device or talking to passengers.
Driver fatigue: When a bus driver becomes tired or fatigued, there is an increased risk of them making a mistake that could prove costly. When bus drivers work long hours without rest or breaks, they run the risk of driving while fatigued.
Traffic law violations: When a bus driver violates the law and causes an accident, he o she might be held liable for the victims' injuries, damages and losses.
Common Injuries Caused by Bus Accidents
Bus accidents could lead to different types of injuries including:
Traumatic brain injuries: Brain trauma could range from concussions to severe brain damage. This often occurs when passengers, for example, hit their head during an accident. TBI patients often require extensive rehabilitation, treatment and care, which could prove costly.
Broken bones: The violent impact of a bus crash could lead to broken bones in the arms, legs, ribs or pelvis. Some fractures such as hip fractures could result in lifelong disabilities and chronic pain.
Neck injuries: The abrupt whipping motion in a bus crash could result in severe stress to the neck, leading to whiplash. These are injuries that could manifest several days or even weeks after a bus accident.
Spinal cord trauma: These injuries could result in partial or complete paralysis because of trauma to the spinal cord. This could cause permanent disabilities that could impact your ability to make a livelihood or even enjoy everyday activities in your life.
Psychological injuries: In addition to physical injuries, bus accident victims often suffer from psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Some develop fear or anxiety over taking public transportation after their accident, which could impact their day-to-day lives and activities.
Factors That Influence a Bus Accident Settlement Calculation
The value of your case will typically depend on the nature and extent of your injury, the manner in which it affects your life and whether it is permanent. While many settlements may remain in the five-figure range, some settlements may be in the six- or even seven-figure range. Here are some of the factors that are likely to affect your bus accident settlement amount:
Severity of the Injuries
If you have suffered a severe injury such as a skull fracture or spinal cord injury, you are likely to receive a much higher settlement than if you have suffered relatively minor injuries such as scratches or bruises. In serious injury cases, settlements can amount to millions of dollars.
Evidence in the Case
The quality of evidence you have including medical records, police reports and eyewitness accounts can help substantiate your claim and increase the settlement amount. Your bus accident lawyer can help you collect the evidence you need to maximize your compensation.
Bus drivers, bus companies and other parties involved in the accident can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses you have suffered.
Establishing who was liable for the accident and injuries can also significantly affect the average settlement for the bus accident. In bus accident cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proof, which means you must prove that the at-fault parties were negligent and breached their duty of care toward you with their negligence.
Current and Future Medical Bills
Bus accident victims' medical bills can pile up very quickly depending on the type and severity of their injuries. For example, if a person has become paralyzed after a bus accident, the treatment, rehabilitation and care costs could add up to several million dollars during that person's lifetime. When you file a bus accident claim, it is important to consider all past, present and future medical expenses including emergency transportation, hospitalization costs, cost of prescription medication, surgery, medical equipment, and cost of rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy.
Lost Wages and Future Earnings
If you were unable to work due to the injuries sustained in the bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. Furthermore, if your injuries result in a permanent disability that affects your ability to earn a living in the future, the settlement amount may include damages for lost earning capacity.
In addition to personal injuries, property damage can also factor into the settlement amount. This includes damage to your vehicle, personal belongings, and any other property affected by the accident. To maximize your settlement, it's essential to document all property damage and provide evidence of its value.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are non-economic damages that can significantly impact your settlement amount. These damages are subjective and aim to compensate you for physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall toll the accident has taken on your life. To determine pain and suffering compensation, factors such as the severity of your injuries, the duration of your recovery, and the emotional trauma you've experienced will be considered.
Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Lawsuit
The time limit to file a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, for a bus accident case in California is two years from the date of your accident injury. However, if your accident occurred on a public bus, you have only six months from the date of injury to file a claim.
Typically, claims against governmental entities have a much shorter statute of limitations. Whether you have six months or two years, it is best to act quickly. Bus accident claims can be complex and involve a number of different parties. When you wait for too long, important evidence could be lost and your case could be jeopardized.
Regardless of the deadline, the best strategy is to file your claim as soon as possible so you have the best possible shot at maximizing compensation for your losses.
How Long Does it Take To Settle Bus Accident Lawsuits
The time it takes to settle a bus accident case in California could vary depending on a number of factors. What is the nature and extent of your injuries? Were other people on the bus injured as well? Were other vehicles involved? The more the number of parties involved, the longer it could take to settle the case.
There are also times when the settlement can come relatively quickly. Each case is different.
Getting Help With Your Claim
Determining the settlement amount in a Los Angeles bus accident case involves numerous factors, including injuries, liability, and more. While general trends and case outcomes can provide some guidance, each case is unique and requires careful evaluation. Seeking the counsel of an experienced California bus accident lawyer and documenting all relevant information are essential steps in pursuing a fair settlement.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a bus accident in California, it's crucial to take these considerations into account as you navigate the legal process to secure the compensation you deserve. The important thing for victims and their families to remember is to not rush into a settlement or accept the first offer from an insurance company, which is likely to be lower and might not take into account the full extent of your damages and losses. An experienced Los Angeles bus accident lawyer will be able to evaluate your case on its merits and guide you through what can be a challenging and complex process.
Call the Vaziri Law Group at (310) 777-7540 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.