One of the most iconic forms of public transportation is the bus. It is also one of the most trusted forms of public transportation.
While the overwhelming majority of trips are completed safely, unfortunately, our Clearwater bus accident lawyers at Denmon Pearlman know that is not always the case.
While government research confirms that head injuries were the most common type of injury (52.1%), wrongful death could also happen. In fact, according to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), buses accounted for 41% of all fatal bus accidents ahead of transit buses and intercity buses.
Fatal injuries are often caused by crashes with large vehicles. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), victims of bus accidents included not just passengers, but also pedestrians, drivers, and drivers or occupants of other vehicles.
Here at Denmon Pearlman, our experienced bus accident lawyers in Clearwater know how dangerous and deadly bus accidents can be. We know that the national highway traffic safety statistics and the highway traffic safety administration figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
Our personal injury law firm has handled many cases involving buses and accident injuries against a district, bus manufacturer, public, or a bus driver.
We have a proven track record of success and offer clients a free case evaluation to learn what compensation they may be entitled to.
Learn how we can help you and your family recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other accident injuries during a FREE consultation.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
There are many possible injuries that could be caused by a bus driver or district’s negligence. The most common injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputations or loss of a limb
- Growth plate injuries or damages
- Broken bones or fractures
- Head injuries
- Nerve injuries including brachial plexus nerve injuries in the shoulder
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments
- Dislocated or separated joints
- Organ injuries
- Wrongful death, and
- Many other common types of serious, personal injuries that victims and their families may be entitled to under Florida law.
Catastrophic Personal Injuries our Clearwater Bus Accident Lawyers Can Handle
While all personal injuries in bus accident cases are serious, some of the most catastrophic damages resulting in life-changing injuries deserve special attention.
This is because a lawyer could recover significant compensation for medical expenses and medical bills for victims in a legal action. Sometimes damages could be over a million in legal awards when liability is established. This is often just due to the extensive injury that the at fault bus driver company and the insurance carrier may be responsible for covering.
Some of the most catastrophic injuries include the following:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
According to the national statistics, head injuries are one of the most common types of injuries.
A traumatic brain injury is a very serious type of head injury. They can also be one of the most devastating types of injuries. The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury “as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”
There are many different types of possible TBIs, which include the following:
- Coup-contrecoup TBIs
- Diffuse axonal injuries, or DAIs
- Brain bleeds
- Penetrating injuries or foreign objects/debris, and
- Many other types of serious brain injuries or head damages.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
Given that buses are large vehicles, spinal cord injuries could be caused in a collision given the momentum and force generated in a bus crash. These can result in significant medical expenses due to the extensive injuries. Some of the most common types of spinal cord injuries and their lifetime costs include the following:
Paraplegia is a type of paralysis. It is the loss of function of the lower torso and lower extremities. This means the damage to the spinal cord is lower on the back.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the lifetime costs of paraplegia occurring at 25 years old is roughly $2.5 million.
Quadriplegia or Tetraplegia
Another type of paralysis is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. The severity of quadriplegia depends on the location of the spinal cord injury. The higher on the spinal column, the greater the area of the body that is affected.
Quadriplegia injuries typically occur with spinal cord damage to the neck. Injuries are commonly classified as high or low quadriplegia.
High tetraplegia affects all four limbs and most of the torso. Some victims may only have some sensation at the very top of their chest or chin, but that may be the only sensation. The lifetime costs of high tetraplegia at the age of 25 is over $5.1 million.
Low tetraplegia similarly affects all four limbs and most of the torso. However, a victim may have some sensation at the upper parts of the arm and the top of the chest extending downwards. The lifetime costs of low tetraplegia at the age of 25 is over $3.6 million.
How Can a Bus Accident Attorney Help Me?
When you are hurt in a bus accident, you could suffer life-changing injuries. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not see it that way. Even when the driver was completely liable, an insurance adjuster will protect a dangerous driver to avoid paying out on a claim.
In these types of accident cases, retaining an experienced bus accident lawyer can ensure you recover compensation.
A bus accident attorney at Denmon Pearlman can help victims and their families by doing the following:
- Compiling your medical records
- Calculating your medical bills and medical expenses
- Fully developing your injuries by working with your treating physicians
- Recover medical records
- Request, contact, FOIL, or otherwise obtain the related police accident reports and documents related to your child’s injuries
- FOIL, contact, subpoena, or demand district records, including employer records regarding the bus driver
- Gather and investigate the bus manufacturer
- Retain experts to prove your damages or liability
- Contact and work with police or accident reconstruction experts to establish liability
- Perform legal research regarding your case
- Commence a legal action against a public bus driver, or district
- Protect your rights in court, an arbitration, or at mediation, and
- Answer any questions you have during the attorney client relationship.
Bus Accident Lawsuits and Liability
There are generally two important components to every lawsuit.
The first is damages and the second is liability.
While damages are the personal injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other losses suffered in a motor vehicle crash, that is only one component. Liability must be proven in order to collect compensation for your child or family’s losses.
Liability in most bus injury cases should be clear. This is because the negligence on the part of the defendant is usually obvious. Unfortunately, some insurance carriers do not feel their clients are responsible.They may try to play games and shift the blame to passengers.
This is especially true of younger victims injured on a school bus. Insurance companies will frequently claim, sometimes without justification, that a child was not following instructions or misbehaving. But this is rarely the truth.
When a defendant will not admit their fault, Florida law allows for a victim of a bus accident to recover compensation. This means that a victim will have to prove liability against bus drivers for the negligent conduct.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is an important legal principle. It is the most common type of claim in a personal injury lawsuit.
Negligence is defined as failing to act as a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.
A party could be negligent in unnecessarily exposing others to foreseeable risks of harm.
Negligence allows a victim to prove liability against a defendant.
Examples of Negligence: Common Causes of Clearwater Bus Accidents
While there are many common causes of bus accident cases, some of the most common examples include the following:
- Bus overcrowding
- Lack of bus seat belts
- Defective warning lights or signs
- Improper u-turns
- Mechanical failures
- Following too closely or tailgating
- Improper left turns
- Too fast for a turn or curve
- Unsafe backing
- Improper lane changes
- Distracted driving, including using a cell phone or texting while driving
- Drug or alcohol impairment
- Fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel, and
- Many other types of negligent actions which could result in liability against districts in Florida.
Florida State Government Liability Limitations
Florida law limits and even prohibits certain types of legal actions against the State and its employees. This includes against districts, public schools, and bus drivers. There are also certain limits on liability against the state.
Specifically, Florida statutes section 768.28 provides for the following:
- Government employees cannot be personally liable for injuries unless the injuries were intentionally harmed
- Damages are limited to $200,000 against a single state agency/entity, or $300,000 if multiple state agencies/entities are involved
- Punitive damages are prohibited against the State
- Interest accruing before a judgment is awarded is improper
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
Victims who have been injured in a bus accident may be entitled to damages with the help of our bus accident attorneys in Clearwater, Florida. The law defines “damages” as the compensation a party may recover in a legal action.
There are many different forms of damages. In personal injury cases, damages are typically monetary compensation. We can help families recover compensation that they deserve after a crash.
Some of the most common types of damages for injuries caused to children on school buses include the following:
- Pain and suffering – both for past pain and suffering and future pain and suffering
- Medical bills – to cover past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages – if your child was working at the time of the accident or if you had to take time off of work for the accident, disability, or injuries sustained by your child
- Loss of consortium – although most claims of loss of consortium are between spouses, parents and children can recover compensation for loss of society, instruction, guidance, protection, and normal familial relationships
- Modifications for one’s home or vehicle to accommodate a child’s injuries or disabilities
- Wrongful death damages, including burial expenses and funeral costs
- Punitive damages in cases against bus drivers or companies who are not state agencies or entities, and
- Any other damages related to damages sustained on a bus in Florida.
Bus Safety Standards: Explained by Our Clearwater Bus Accident Lawyer
Buses have come a long way. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, new safety pushes have been made to keep people safe. This includes adding seat belts that work better to keep people safe. Lower stairs and handrails also help people more easily come on and off buses.
Other designs are inherent to uses including the way they are painted, using red lights and flashing signs, cross-view mirrors, and other improvements to their visibility.
Most of these changes are through legislation, meaning that bus riders are protected under Florida law. When another motorist fails to follow the safety protocols set by law, it can result in liability against a defendant-motorist.
In addition to improvements with buses, bus stops have been made safer. This includes better planning of stopping locations where people can safely disembark and walk home off main roads.
These stops are also made with visibility in mind, being a location where motorists can see the stopping location without obstruction from vegetation or buildings.
Injuries Getting On and Off a Bus: Pedestrian Hit by Car Cases
According to national statistics above, the second-leading cause of bus injuries are getting off and on a bus. This is important because people could fall and suffer serious injuries like TBIs, SCIs, and broken bones.
The injuries not only include the bus, but also what other motorists do around the bus.
Some of the causes of injuries getting on and off buses include the following:
- Inappropriately too high of stairs to get on and off
- Buses that do not hydraulically lower to help children get on and off
- Closing a bus door too quickly on a student
- Improper handrail location
- Broken or loose handrails
- Slips or wet stairs
- Lack of a friction stripe on stairs
- Broken, peeling, bent, or otherwise defective stairs
- Motorists trying to go around a bus, and
- Many other unfortunate and common causes of bus accidents that our accident attorneys at Denmon Pearlman could recover for you.
Bus Accident Injuries Due to Another Motorist’s Fault
Sometimes uses are not the primary cause of the motor vehicle accident. Rather, it could be the reckless, careless, or negligent conduct of another driver that causes personal injuries. This could be due to a driver who tries to drive around a stopped bus, ignores the red stop sign, or otherwise neglects to drive carefully around a bus with children coming on and off.
This could also be when another motorist is negligent in driving his or her vehicle. Examples include drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, running a red light or stop sign, and many other common causes of negligence. Any time another motorist collides with a bus, it could be the fault of that driver.
Other drivers could also cause an accident by failing to follow Florida’s vehicle code. The violation of a statute could be used against another motorist to establish liability. This can allow an injured victim to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, or other damages.
Having a lawyer on your side who can help review and decide how to prove a liability claim against a defendant is important to ensuring your family recovers the compensation that they deserve and need.
Can a Bus Driver Be Liable for Injuries Caused While on a Bus?
Bus drivers are the captain of the ship. They are not just responsible for driving the bus and choosing the proper location for pick ups or drop offs, but they are required to properly maintain the bus. This includes ensuring that walkways are not dangerous or defective.
It also includes that spills, debris on the ground, or other substances that could cause a rider to slip and fall are cleaned up. A rider who slips, trips, and falls on a defect could have a claim against a bus driver.
In addition, bus drivers must ensure that all passengers are sitting down and situated before beginning to drive. Sometimes bus drivers are behind and they may try to rush to catch up. They may start driving before riders are seated and ready. This can result in passengers losing their balance and falling to the ground.
If My Child Was Partially at Fault for a School Bus Injury, Can We Still Recover Compensation?
Yes, if a victim of a school bus accident contributed to his or her own injuries, a recovery can still be made. Florida is a “comparative fault state.” This means that a victim’s comparative fault in causing the subject accident will be taken into consideration when issuing a verdict. The proportional share of fault is used to lower the victim’s award.
For example, a child was found to be 10% at fault for falling on a bus and awarded $100,000. The total award could be reduced by 10% or $10,000, meaning the child would recover $90,000.
How a Bus Accident Attorney at Denmon Pearlman Can Help
Victims and their family who suffer serious personal injuries due to the negligence of a bus driver, district, public , or third-party need to find a Florida bus accident lawyer who can protect their rights.
Here at Denmon Pearlman, our dedicated practice areas are representing victims against a negligent defendant and their insurance company. Our lawyers offer a free consultation for victims and their families to learn how we can help them recover compensation in a bus accident.
Schedule your FREE consultation today.