Public transit is popular for many reasons, including the environment, saving money on parking, and not being stressed driving through traffic. However, buses can have accidents. Here’s what you need to know if it happens to you in Colorado.

Who’s Liable in an Accident with a Bus in Colorado?

It might seem obvious that someone driving a massive, heavy vehicle like a bus would be the responsible party if an accident causes bodily or property damage. But there are multiple possibilities for who is responsible. Here are some of the other possible defendants.

  • Private companies. Companies using buses are responsible for keeping the bus in good working order and ensuring the drivers are properly trained and don’t have records of dangerous driving. If the company knows anything to the contrary about their buses or drivers and does nothing to keep them off the road, they can be held liable.
  • Government. The government owns school and public transit buses. Just as with private companies, the government entity that owns them is responsible for keeping both the buses and drivers safe on the road.
  • Manufacturer. The manufacturer might be liable if the bus has faulty parts or doesn’t work correctly.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims for Injuries from a Bus Accident in Colorado?

This can be tricky. Generally, Colorado personal injury claims and lawsuits have a three-year statute of limitations to file. That means three years from the date of the accident. If the claim or lawsuit isn’t filed by then, the chances of it going to court are almost none.

However, if a school or public transit bus is involved, that changes the timing. In those cases, someone has only 180 days to notify the government entity in charge of the bus with the intent to sue. If that isn’t done within 180 days, the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply. This is an excellent example of why working with an experienced bus accident attorney is valuable.

What Things Can I File for Damages For in a Bus Accident?

The obvious things that damages can cover include specific monetary losses:

  • Property damage
  • Out-of-pocket medical costs, including those already accrued and those expected in the future
  • Lost wages from being unable to work while recovering

If the injuries are so severe that they cause someone to no longer be able to work or need to find a new line of work, the damages may cover lost wages in that way too
There are also less tangible items damages can cover:

  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • The loss of what’s known as “consortium,” which means the benefits of a family relationship, including affection and sexual intercourse
  • Less common but still possible are punitive damages. However, the bus driver or company must be proven egregiously at fault to prove punitive damages. That means situations where the driver or company engaged in fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct. The theory of punitive damages is to deter others from behaving the same way. Punitive damages can’t be part of the initial claim or lawsuit in Colorado and can only be requested once significant evidence is uncovered.

What If I’m Partly at Fault in the Accident with the Bus?

Colorado follows what’s known as modified comparative negligence laws. These types of laws, which determine how much the victim may be allowed to receive from claims, are based on how much fault the victim may have had for the accident. In some states, if the injured party is at all at fault, they’re not eligible to receive any compensation. Other states will prorate the damages awarded based on the amount of fault the victim had, so even if they were 99% at fault for the accident, they’d still receive 1% of the damages.

Colorado is one of several states in the middle of this approach. Modified comparative negligence means that if the victim is found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, they have no right to receive damages. In some states, the modified cutoff is 51%.

For example, if a speeding bus hits a car that ran a red light, hypothetically, the bus could be assigned 60% of the fault and the car 40%. In that case, if the victim were awarded $10,000, they’d receive $6,000– the percentage of their fault reduced the damages.

But in Colorado, if the victim is found to be 51% at fault, they receive nothing.

What Should I Do if I Was Injured in an Accident with a Bus?

Even if you feel fine, one of the first things you should do is see a doctor. There are injuries, some severe, that don’t always show symptoms right away. Left untreated, those injuries can worsen and even become life-threatening.

Then call Genco Injury Attorneys at 303-500-1376 for a free case evaluation. Bus accidents can make complicated claims and lawsuits. Our knowledgeable, experienced bus accident attorneys will work with you to determine the best approach and strive for the best outcomes.

If you receive any communication from the bus company’s insurance representative or attorney, don’t talk or write to them. Their goal is to have the bus’s side pay out little or nothing. To that end, they may try to get you to say something that could be interpreted as taking at least 51% of the blame for the accident. They may also try to convince you to accept a much lower settlement than you could otherwise get. Refer all communication to your lawyer.