Compensation in a Bus Accident Lawsuit
Thanks to many factors, including strict enforcement of traffic laws and better training programs for drivers, bus accidents are relatively uncommon. However, and in spite of continuing safety programs, bus accidents continue to occur and such accidents usually involve multiple injured passengers and/or fatalities.
On this page, the bus accident injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will first explain damages in the context of personal injury law and then review the different types of damages that may be awarded to bus accident victims and their families following a successful bus accident injury lawsuit.
One of the basic principles of civil law is that of duty, which can be defined as:
An obligation to conduct one's business and personal affairs in a manner that will pose the least risk of harm to others. If one fails in his or her duty to others, deliberately or by simple oversight, the duty has been breachedand the party committing that breach can be named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
In the context of a bus accident injury, the company that owns the bus is implying that its vehicle is safe for you to use it because the company has kept up proper maintenance on the bus, had it inspected regularly, and hires only safe bus drivers. If an accident occurs and the cause of that accident is determined to have been a factor that the bus company should have known about (such as a driver's poor record with the state's motor vehicle division), the bus company has breached its duty to the public and may be held liable for any injuries to others in an accident.
Types of damages in a bus accident lawsuit
In a personal injury lawsuit the plaintiff (the person who was injured or suffered a loss) is asking a court to find that the defendant has breached a duty owed to the plaintiff. As a result of that breach of duty, the plaintiff has suffered a loss of some type and is requesting that the court order the defendant to pay damages. Damages are usually divided into two general types: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are intended to "compensate," "pay back," or "reimburse" an accident victim for his or her medical expenses, lost income while injured and unable to work, and for the repair / replacement of damaged personal property. As a rule, the amount of compensatory damages is relatively easy to estimate because the plaintiff is able to produce documents such as bills, receipts, and estimates that contain "dollar values" which are easy to confirm or to be used for comparing replacements or substitutions. There is, however, a special category of compensatory damages whose value is determined solely by a jury and/or a judge.
"Intangible" damages, usually known as "pain and suffering," are meant to compensate an accident victim (or the victim's surviving family) for the physical and psychological pain that the accident victim experienced following an accident and during recovery from his or her injuries. If the accident victim did not survive their injuries, then these damages are intended to benefit the survivors alone rather than the victim.
"Pain and suffering" has always been a controversial topic in personal injury law over the years, so much so that some states allow for an "unlimited" award of damages for pain suffering while other states have placed a maximum value or "cap" on such damages. This concept is best explained by a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the applicable laws of the state where the case will be tried.
Punitive (Exemplary) damages
Punitive damages, which are sometimes called "exemplary" damages, are awarded to "punish" the defendant for its breach of duty and to "make an example" of the defendant so as to discourage others from committing a similar breach in the future.
Unlike compensatory damages, where the "dollar value" of the damages can be reasonably estimated based on the plaintiff's medical and property damage expenses, it is very difficult to predict if punitive will even be awarded and, if so, how big an award is sufficient to "punish" the defendant for its negligence?
Third party lawsuits and bus accidents
There are occasions when a bus accident with injuries will occur but, during the investigation of that accident, evidence will emerge that seems to indicate that the cause of the accident was not a problem with the bus or its driver but with a defective component of the bus that was installed some time after the bus was delivered to its owner. In these circumstances, your bus accident attorney may suggest filing what is known as a third party lawsuit.As an example of a "third party" lawsuit, consider the following.
A bus company purchases new tires for its busses. While returning from a daytrip to an out-of-state casino, a recently purchased tire suffers a "blowout" causing the driver loses control of the bus and the bus strikes a retaining wall. The state police investigation clears the bus and driver, but also notes that the tire failure was the direct cause of the accident.
While investigating the accident, a personal injury lawyer hired by one of the accident victims notes that "tire failure" was the immediate cause of the accident. She investigates further and finds that there have been other reports of tire failure involving the same manufacturer. She recommends that her client (the "first party") negotiate a settlement with the bus company (the "second party") but to file a "defective product" lawsuit against the tire's manufacturer (the "third party).
To protect your right to compensation, you need a bus accident injury lawyer
Although bus accidents are relatively uncommon, bus accidents can involve multiple injuries that range from minor bruising to fatalities.
If you, or a family member were involved in a bus accident, your first step toward justice should be to find a bus accident lawyer that is:
- experienced in managing bus accident injury cases
- familiar with the federal, state, and local laws related to commercial vehicles such as busses
- an experienced investigator of bus accidents
- comfortable in dealing with multiple defendants and their insurance carriers
- ready to fight for your right to be compensated for your injuries and other losses
One such lawyer is the bus accident injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury law practice with offices located in major cities throughout the country.
When you contact the Doan Law Firm regarding your bus accident injury case, your first consultation with our firm is always free and does not commit you to hiring our firm to represent you in court. If you would like for us to act as your legal counsel in your bus accident injury lawsuit, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.
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