If you sustained injuries when a city bus hit you (whether as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist), chances are that you have the right to demand compensation from the city or its insurer. Here’s an overview of what’s involved with holding the city and others accountable for the losses you’ve suffered, and how an experienced bus accident attorney can handle the process of getting you paid.
Your Rights to Compensation for a Bus Accident
As the victim of a bus accident, you generally have the legal right to receive compensation from anyone whose careless or reckless actions caused the crash. You may also have the right to receive compensation from an insurance company that issued liability coverage to an at-fault party, or that sold you a policy covering your losses.
A party with liability to you for your bus accident injuries could owe you compensation for the full scope of harm you’ve suffered.
That could include payment for:
- Medical expenses to treat your injuries
- Other costs of recovering from or living with your injuries
- Repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or other personal property
- Your past and future loss of earnings and job benefits due to your injuries
- Your physical pain and discomfort
- Your emotional suffering
- Your loss of independence or daily inconvenience
- Your diminished quality of life
- Scarring or disfigurement due to your injuries
If a city bus hit you because of someone’s extreme or intentional misconduct, you may also have the right to a court award of punitive damages. However, limitations on damages may apply if the city owes you damages (see below).
Compensation for bus crash-related losses varies from case to case. An experienced bus accident lawyer can review your losses and determine the amount of compensation you deserve to receive and have a realistic chance of recovering.
It’s Possible to Sue a City for Damages
Any individual, business, or entity whose unreasonably dangerous conduct led to a city bus hitting you could owe you damages. That generally includes the city and its agencies and employees. The fact that the city or someone working for it bears fault for your injuries should not prevent you from seeking compensation from them.
Of course, your lawyer must confirm that the city actually has legal responsibility for what happened by finding evidence that:
- The bus driver, a city employee, caused the collision by driving carelessly;
- The city, as the driver’s employer and bus’s owner, failed to train or supervise the driver in safe practices or failed to maintain the bus in safe working condition; or
- The city was responsible for the unreasonably dangerous road conditions at the location where the bus hit you.
Provided that your lawyer can locate evidence to prove the city’s fault through the actions of its workers or contractors, chances are you have the right to sue the city as you might anyone else.
Who else besides the city might owe you damages?
Getting hit by a city bus does not always mean the city should bear all, or even any, of the blame, however. Other individuals, businesses, or entities could share that liability or bear it entirely, if their misconduct contributed in some way to a city bus hitting you.
That could happen, for example, if:
- A private company, not the city, owns and operates city buses and employs city bus drivers;
- Another motorist’s reckless driving led to the city bus hitting you;
- A fellow pedestrian or cyclist carelessly bumped or pushed you into the bus’s path; or
- The city bus hit you when its brakes failed due to a defect for which a parts manufacturer bears the blame.
One of a bus accident lawyer’s most important jobs is to examine the facts of a crash to identify every party whose dangerous decisions, actions, or inaction played a role in your injury. Experienced attorneys understand the critical importance of finding as many liable parties as possible in your case, so that you have the best possible opportunity to recover full compensation for the harm you suffered.
Can you sue both a city and a private party?
In most cases, yes, you can sue both public and private parties who have liability for the damages you suffered when a city bus hit you. But your lawyer may have to follow different procedures in pursuing each of them, and the damages you may recover from them can sometimes differ (see below).
In many states, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against a city without first giving the city advance notice of your intent to make a claim. The general purpose of requiring advance notice is to give government entities the opportunity to save taxpayer money by investigating and settling a claim before it proceeds to a full-blown lawsuit.
Typically, the city will have a window of opportunity after receiving notice to approve or pay the claim. If it refuses or simply does not respond to the notice, however, then the injured party may proceed with a lawsuit.
Short Notice-of-Claim Deadlines
State laws routinely impose short deadlines on giving your advance notice-of-claim to a city. Your lawyer may have as little as just a month or two after your accident to alert the city to your claim. Deadlines may also apply for filing a lawsuit after you receive a response from the city to your notice-of-claim. If you miss either of these deadlines for giving notice or filing your lawsuit, you could lose your right to pursue damages from the city.
Notice-of-claim deadlines differ from other deadlines that may apply in your case. For example, state laws called statutes of limitation set an expiration date on your right to sue anyone for your bus accident. Typically, if you want to sue the city for your bus crash injuries, your lawyer will typically need to meet both the notice of claim deadline and the statute of limitations deadline.
Damage Limitations and Caps
States also commonly limit the types and amounts of damages someone suing a city can recover. These measures aim to limit the impact on state coffers, which are funded by taxpayers, of a personal injury lawsuit.
Restrictions on types of damages can take various forms. In Pennsylvania, for example, the law only permits pain and suffering damages against a city in cases involving a death, permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, or permanent dismemberment. New Jersey law contains a similar limit on pain and suffering damages, and also bars recovery of punitive damages against a city.
Restrictions on the amount of damages recoverable from a city also vary from state to state. Florida law, for instance, caps the compensation recoverable from a city at $200,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence in most instances. Pennsylvania’s limit is $500,000 per occurrence. There’s no such limit in New Jersey, however.
Protect Your Rights After a City Bus Hits You
The actions you take after sustaining injuries from getting hit by a city bus can affect your rights. The smartest decision you can make in the aftermath of a bus accident is to contact an experienced bus accident injury lawyer right away. As explained above, your ability to sue the city for damages may depend on meeting some very short deadlines. The sooner you have a knowledgeable lawyer working on your claim, the better your chances of holding the city and others accountable for your losses.
In addition to connecting with a skilled lawyer, you can often protect your rights to compensation by following the tips below.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention and Follow Doctor’s Orders
Don’t delay seeking medical attention after getting hit by a city bus. As soon as you can, go to the nearest hospital or urgent care clinic to be examined by a doctor. Do this even if you think you suffered just minor injuries or if you only feel a few aches and pains. Some potentially life-threatening trauma doesn’t necessarily show symptoms right away. Only a qualified doctor can evaluate your condition reliably.
Then, try to do everything your doctor reasonably recommends to get better. Take your medication, avoid activity as directed, do your physical therapy, and go to follow up appointments. Take care of yourself, in other words.
Seeking prompt medical care and following your treatment plan protects more than just your health. It also safeguards your legal rights. Your doctor will keep records of your diagnosis and treatment that a skilled lawyer can use to prove your damages against the city and others. And by taking care of yourself, you avoid being blamed for injuries that worsen later on.
Beware of Aggressive Insurance Tactics
Getting hit by a city bus usually means that an insurance company (or several of them) may have liability for your damages. You may carry coverage that protects you against some of your losses. And the city or another liable party may carry liability insurance to pay for the damages they caused.
But insurance companies—especially those that cover liability for the city or other liable parties—would prefer not to compensate you. They’ll look for any reason they can find to refuse to pay all or any of what they owe, or to trick you into letting them off the hook.
Beware of their tactics. For example, do not give in to an insurance company’s high-pressure attempts to get a recorded statement from you about the bus accident. They’re just fishing for an opportunity to ask you loaded questions designed to manipulate you into saying something harmful to your claim. You usually have no obligation to give a recorded statement to someone else’s insurance company. And even if you must do so for your own insurer, you don’t have to go it alone—an attorney can guide you through the process.
Another tactic liability insurers in particular use is to make a quick, cash settlement offer directly to you. They’ll dress that offer up to make it seem generous and responsive to your needs. But that’s not what’s happening.
Any compensation a liability insurance company offers you directly will almost certainly fall far short of the amount they should actually pay you. They make direct offers in hopes you won’t have a lawyer yet and won’t know how much they really should pay. Never agree to any offer or sign anything an insurance company sends you without first consulting with an experienced bus accident lawyer.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your City Bus Accident Claim Today
If a city bus hit you and left you injured, chances are you have rights to receive significant financial compensation. You might have the option of suing the city. You may also have claims to make against other parties and insurance companies.
The key to getting the maximum compensation available for your losses is to connect with a knowledgeable bus accident attorney right away. In a free consultation, a skilled legal professional can review the circumstances of your city bus accident and give you an initial assessment of your legal options.
Don’t delay. A lawyer may need to take quick action on your behalf to meet claim deadlines. Contact a personal injury lawyer for your free consultation now.