Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Bus Accidents
If you’ve been in an accident while riding on a bus, you likely have a lot of questions. Anytime you are paying to ride a bus, the bus operator owes you a relatively high standard of care to insure your safety. All bus operators owe their passengers the duty to be reasonable in their driving and maintenance of the bus. Drivers in other vehicles that hit or cause a bus to crash owe the bus driver and passengers the duty to act reasonably to avoid accidents.
Do you have questions regarding how to seek compensation, who may be held responsible, and other important issues? Below we discuss some of the most common questions that individuals involved in bus accidents have, and we provide answers to those questions.
After a bus accident, who is responsible for my medical expenses and lost wages?
If you injured while riding a bus, and you have an Oregon automobile insurance policy, your insurance policy will pay for the initial medical expenses. An Oregon issued automobile insurance policy usually covers $15,000 in medical bills under your personal injury protection portion of your policy. If you lose wages as a result of your injuries, your PIP policy will pay a percentage of your lost wages for the first year following an accident. If you have an automobile policy issued in another state, you may or may not have personal injury protection benefits.
The at-fault driver may be responsible for damages that exceed your personal injury protection benefits.
When medical bills for injuries caused by the accident exceed the amount of personal injury protection coverage, the driver who caused the accident will be responsible for paying for these bills. If you are a person who does not drive and you and other family members residing in your house do not have an automobile insurance policy, the person liable for causing the accident will be responsible for your medical bills. However, a person who caused an accident is not responsible for paying your medical bills as they are incurred. Instead, their insurance company will attempt to settle the claim against their insured in exchange for a release. The insurance company will usually not pay any medical bills until a settlement is reached. The insurance company will also be responsible for paying towards the lost wages that your PIP coverage did not pay.
If the bus driver caused your accident, his or her employer may be responsible for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
Bus drivers may be employed by a bus company or by a government entity. Depending on who operates the bus, may impact how and if you can be compensated for your injuries. If the bus is operated by a government agency, you will be required to provide a tort claim notice within 180 days of the accident to the government agency who operates the bus. The tort claim notice must comply with all of the requirements of the statute Oregon Tort Claim Act. See ORS 30.275.
A private company operating the bus will likely have insurance to cover your injuries for an accident caused by the improper maintenance or operation of the bus. Important factors that can impact the settlement of a bus claim is whether or not the bus company had prior knowledge that the bus driver was more likely to cause accidents than other drivers, such as having a poor driving record, prior accidents, or substance abuse problems. If the bus company failed to comply with maintenance requirements which caused a mechanical failure that led to the accident, they will be responsible for your injuries.
If my child was involved in a school bus accident, is the school district responsible?
When your child is on a school bus, the school may be responsible for the negligence of the school bus driver. Unless it is a private school, the school is likely run by a government entity. Because of that, an Oregon tort claim notice is required within 180 days of the accident to preserve your claim. Some private companies are now providing school bus operations. These private companies are still responsible for injuries caused by their negligence in the maintenance or operation of the school bus. It would be prudent to still provide the Oregon tort claim notice within 180 days of the accident just as a precaution to insure your claim is not barred.
What if I don’t know how the accident happened?
In many cases, a passenger on the bus won’t see how or why an accident happened. To determine who is at fault for the accident, you should obtain the police report. The police report may contain statements from the drivers, eyewitnesses, and passengers. The police may have cited a person for some failure that resulted in the accident. However, some police reports may contain inaccurate information. Some citations in accident cases are simply wrong. Police reports may not describe statements from all witnesses. In this case, statements from the involved drivers, from other passengers, and from eye witnesses may need to be obtained to determine who is responsible for the accident. If a mechanical failure contributed or caused an accident, an expert investigation into the maintenance of the bus may become an important part of your claim.
Will I receive compensation for pain and suffering related to my bus accident?
Insurance is generally designed to provide compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering following an accident. Pain and suffering damages are an important part of your claim that should not be discounted.
How long do I have to make a bus accident claim in Oregon?
In Oregon, you generally have two years following your accident to file a lawsuit on a claim that seeks compensation for your injuries. However, in most cases, the sooner you contact a lawyer the more likely you are to receive full compensation for your injuries and damages. Filing a lawsuit is not the same as providing an Oregon tort claim notice for claims involving state or local government entities. You will need to provide the tort claim notice within the 180 days AND file your lawsuit within the two year statute of limitations period to preserve your claim.
Contact Dwyer Williams Cherkoss
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, you may have other questions not answered by the above discussion. Personal injury claims can be complex, and they depend on the specific circumstances of each accident. Every accident is unique and needs careful consideration and analysis by a professional.
The accident attorneys at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss in Oregon will help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries. For dedicated personal injury legal representation, schedule a consultation with the lawyers at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss. Call 1-800-285-8678 today.