Biloxi Bus Accident Lawyer
While buses are a convenient and economical way to travel, their size and lack of seatbelts and immense size mean that an accident could result in catastrophic and even fatal injuries. However, if the negligence of a bus driver or other motorist caused a crash, anyone injured may be able to seek full and fair compensation with the help of a Biloxi bus accident lawyer.
Pursuing a claim without legal representation could be difficult, especially as you recover from your injuries. A skilled personal injury attorney could help explain your legal rights and options and file a claim if you or a loved one were injured in a bus wreck. If successful, you might have a right to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Liability in Biloxi
Because a bus crash is often caused by more than one individual, multiple defendants might need to be named in a lawsuit. These parties might include:
- Bus company
- Bus driver
- Other drivers on the road
- Manufacturer of the bus or its parts
- Government entity or contractor responsible for taking care of the roads
If a judge or jury believes that more than one party is liable, each defendant would be assigned a percentage of fault. In most cases where claims are successful, each defendant would be required to only pay the plaintiff compensation proportionate to their degree of fault, relative to the total amount rewarded.
This legal concept is known as several liability, outlined in Mississippi Code § 85-5-7. However, a single defendant may be held responsible to pay the entire amount of damages suffered by one injured in a bus crash where the crash was caused by deliberate conduct of the defendant, known as joint and several liability. Because of the nuances of this system, a knowledgeable Biloxi lawyer could help explain a person’s rights after a bus crash, as well as investigate who might be liable.
What Makes a Bus Driver Liable for an Accident?
Bus drivers must follow the same rules of the road as all other motorists. This involves two separate concepts. The first is the requirement to follow the traffic laws. Like all other vehicles, a bus must yield, stop at intersections, properly signal all lane changes just like any other vehicle, and follow the safety rules of the road that are designed to protect us all.
The other part of responsible driving is keeping one’s attention on the road. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for bus drivers to text while behind the wheel, eat, or watch their passengers when their eyes should be on the road. Any of these reckless behaviors could indicate that a bus driver was responsible for a crash. A Biloxi bus accident attorney could help to investigate the cause of the crash and hold the responsible party accountable.
Busses, like trains, taxies, airport shuttles and similar services that carry passengers for a fee are “Common Carriers”. As such, bus companies have additional duties under the law, and owe a higher duty of care to provide safe transportation for their passengers. The must take preventative measures to protect passengers in the event of an emergency.
Common causes of bus accidents, in addition to breaking the rules of the road such as speeding and distracted driving, include defective or improperly maintained equipment, improper or inadequate training of drivers, negligent hiring or supervision, and failure to have adequate weight distribution.
Common Physical Injuries in Bus Collisions
Buses are massive vehicles that can impart thousands of pounds of force on people in other cars. Even crashes at low speeds can severely damage smaller vehicles and cause catastrophic injuries to the people inside. It is not uncommon for persons injured in bus accidents to suffer broken bones, separated joints, traumatic brain injuries, burns, head and neck injuries, back injuries, or spinal cord damage.
Additionally, passengers within buses may suffer severe injuries. Since many of these vehicles lack seatbelts, even a slight impact may throw a rider into the seat in front of them, against a window, or cause a chain reaction among standing riders.
Recoverable Damages for Bus Crash Injuries
Essentially, damages are a financial representation of a plaintiff’s losses, hardships, and inconveniences that he or she has suffered as a result of an accident. Of course, damages vary from one case to the next and are based on the type and severity of a claimant’s injuries.
Furthermore, compensable damages can be either economic or non-economic. These types of damages might include:
- Past and future medical costs—such as bills for hospital visits and other related expenses, surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
- Past and future lost income, or loss of earning capacity
- Legal and travel expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, emotional distress and/or anxiety
- Loss of consortium
- Incidental expenses
While some of these damages have definitive price tags, others are more subjective and, therefore, difficult to calculate. A detail-oriented bus accident lawyer could help a claimant assess his or her losses in order to pursue full and fair recovery.
What are Punitive Damages?
Unlike compensable damages, punitive damages are used to punish the defendant for wanton or reckless behavior, as well as to prevent others from doing the same. As per Mississippi Code § 11-1-65, punitive damages may be recovered when a defendant’s conduct demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety of others.
Time Limits to Pursue Bus Accident Claims
Bus accidents are a subset of personal injury cases that center around accidental injuries. As a result, most claims fall under the category of negligence claims according to state law. Under Mississippi Code § 15-1-49, plaintiffs in these claims have three years after the date of injury to pursue a claim for damages. However, claims involving governmental entities or their employees must be brought within only one year from the date of injury.
This time limit applies both to cases that are seeking a settlement and those that may go to trial. Although the statute technically limits when a plaintiff may file a complaint in court, insurance companies are aware of this law and will not negotiate a settlement if the statute of limitations has expired.
Call a Biloxi Bus Accident Attorney for Help
If you or a loved one were injured in a bus crash, you might feel traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. However, by working with a Biloxi bus accident lawyer, you could understand your legal options and rights.
Because of the essential timelines and other important factors for taking legal action, contacting a well-versed attorney as soon as possible might be helpful. To begin working on a claim, contact Van Cleave Law for a free consultation today.