No one wants to think about being in an accident with a bus, which is likely to be larger and heavier than most cars on the road. A bus can cause significant damage to other vehicles and to the people riding in them. It’s good to be prepared. Here’s what you should–and shouldn’t–do if you’ve been in an accident with a bus.
What Are the First Things You Should Do After Being in an Accident with a Bus?
If you’re not physically incapacitated, the first things to do are:
- Call the police to file a report. A police report can be an essential piece of evidence if claims or lawsuits are filed later. While the police report may not fully determine who was at fault, if the officer includes details such as the bus driver committing a traffic violation, that can help with the case later.
- Then you should exchange names, contacts, and insurance information with the bus driver, including whom you should contact at the bus company (whether a passenger or school bus) for that info if the driver doesn’t have it. However, don’t discuss anything about the accident with the driver or passengers on the bus for reasons explained below.
- Even if you don’t think you’re injured or injured badly, it’s vital that you see a doctor anyway. There are injuries that don’t present symptoms at first, including severe injuries. If those are left untreated, they can worsen and even become life-threatening.
- Finally, contact an experienced, knowledgeable bus accident attorney. Bus accident claims can be complicated. Having an attorney who understands the law and what tactics the bus company might take to avoid paying damages could make a difference in the outcomes of your case.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims After a Bus Accident?
The answer to this depends on who was responsible for the bus being on the road. In general, Colorado’s statute of limitations for filing for personal injury cases (including bus accidents) is three years from the date of the accident. This applies to buses operated by private companies.
However, if a government entity operated the bus, the injured party is required to inform that entity of the intent to sue within 180 days of the accident.
Once these deadlines have passed, it’s unlikely you could find a court to hear your case, no matter how compelling. The defense will point out that the statute of limitations has passed, and the court would likely dismiss the case outright and refuse to hear it.
What Can I Claim Damages for in a Bus Accident?
There are several types of damages that can be claimed after a bus accident.
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses. This includes amounts already spent (such as if the injured person was hospitalized immediately after the accident) and money likely to be spent (such as future surgeries or physical therapy costs).
- Lost wages due to time away from work, including future income that could be affected by the injuries sustained in the accident.
- Physical pain and mental anguish.
- Loss of consortium with family. That means the family is deprived of the companionship and contributions of the injured.
- Wrongful death. If the injured party dies, their family can sue for wrongful death.
How Could Colorado’s Comparative Negligence Laws Affect My Bus Accident Case?
Comparative negligence takes multiple forms across the U.S. In Colorado, the law uses what’s called modified comparative negligence. That means that when an accident occurs, and someone is injured, the court will determine how much fault each party had in causing the accident. For example, if a bus was speeding and hit a car and the car’s driver was injured, the bus had some liability.
But if the car was running a red light, that driver also had some liability.
In Colorado, the threshold for whether or not the injured driver can receive damages for the accident is 49%. If the injured driver is deemed 50% or greater at fault for the accident, they can’t receive damages. If the injured driver is found to be 25% at fault, they can receive damages, but the percentage of fault would reduce the overall amount. If they were awarded $10,000, they’d receive $7,500 instead. This is another reason to work with an experienced bus accident attorney.
Is There Something I Shouldn’t Do After Being Involved in a Bus Accident?
Absolutely. It’s crucial not to have any discussions or communication with the bus driver or bus company’s lawyer, or insurance representatives. Since Colorado follows the modified comparative negligence model, the bus company will be highly motivated to shift as much blame for the accident onto you to potentially enable them not to pay claims. Another tactic they might use is to present a settlement offer that’s much lower than you could possibly get and urge you to agree and sign for it. Don’t respond to any requests for communication. Forward them to your attorney instead.
How Can I Get Help with My Bus Accident Case?
Call Genco Injury Attorneys at 303-500-1376 for a free case evaluation. Personal injury cases can be complex, especially if pain and suffering are involved. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorneys can guide you through your case and what the possible outcomes are. Our only focus is to get you the damages you deserve and should be entitled to.