Average Settlement of a Bus Accident Lawsuit
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Bus accident lawsuits can be complicated. Determining the average settlement for a bus accident lawsuit is challenging due to the unique circumstances of each case. Numerous variables come into play, such as the extent of the injuries, the liability of the bus company or driver, and the number of victims involved.
Although it’s difficult to provide an exact average due to the wide-ranging circumstances, compensation in these cases is designed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated damages. A skilled bus accident lawyer can be instrumental in navigating the complex legal landscape of bus accident lawsuits to secure the best possible settlement for their clients.
What Causes Bus Accidents?
Bus accidents on Michigan roadways can happen suddenly due to multiple factors. Driver error, poor maintenance, weather conditions, and negligent training can all lead to dangerous collisions for passengers or those in nearby vehicles. Common causes of bus collisions include:
- Driver fatigue due to working extended shifts and tight schedules
- Mechanical failure due to faulty parts like brakes, tires, or navigation systems
- Reckless or aggressive driving, such as speeding and changing lanes frequently
- Dangerous weather conditions like ice, snow, rain, or fog
- Poor bus maintenance of brakes, tires, and other critical components
- Negligent hiring, training, or supervision of bus drivers resulting in errors or unsafe driving practices
- Maneuvers such as backing up or changing lanes can cause jackknife and overturn accidents
Common Injuries in Bus Accidents
Bus accidents can lead to various injuries, ranging from minor to severe, including spinal cord damage, brain injuries, and death. When a collision occurs, crash victims may be thrown from their seats, hitting their head or body on the bus’s windows, frame, or other passengers.
These injuries and the circumstances of the accident can affect the scope and amount of a potential lawsuit settlement. You must seek immediate medical attention following a bus accident to ensure you receive proper diagnosis and treatment for your injuries.
Common bus accident injuries include:
- Whiplash and neck injuries: The abrupt motion during a bus accident can cause severe stress to the neck, leading to whiplash or more serious neck injuries. Whiplash may be minor and resolve after a few weeks or months or result in lifelong pain and immobility, affecting your ability to work and enjoy life.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, particularly when passengers hit their heads during an accident. Severe traumatic brain injuries may require multiple specialist visits, X-rays, lifelong rehabilitation, and attendant care. Studies indicate that up to 29% of those still alive five years after a TBI experience dissatisfaction with their life.
- Broken bones and fractures: The force of a bus collision can lead to broken bones and fractures, including injuries to the arms, legs, ribs, or pelvis. Some fractures, such as those to the femur, can result in lifelong disability and comorbidities.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs): SCIs can result in partial or complete paralysis, often due to the sudden impact or jolt in a bus accident. These injuries can impact all areas of your life, including your career, hobbies, relationships, and physical mobility.
- Psychological injuries: Beyond physical injuries, victims of bus accidents often suffer from psychological traumas, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. These may impact your ability to take public transportation in the future or engage with everyday life.
Who is Responsible for a Bus Accident?
Determining liability in a bus accident often requires a thorough investigation and expertise in personal injury law, and liability can sometimes be shared among multiple parties. It’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help navigate these complex issues.
The Bus Driver
A bus driver may be responsible for your injuries if their negligent behavior caused the crash. For example, if your driver operated the bus under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against them. If they acted outside the scope of employment, they may also be personally liable. For instance, they took an unapproved route or ran a personal errand while driving the bus.
Private Bus Operators
While bus drivers may be liable, their employer is typically responsible for their actions while on the job. This is due to the vicarious liability doctrine for employees and employers. If your crash was caused by negligence on the part of the bus driver during their scope of employment, your attorney may file a lawsuit against the private company.
Public Transportation Authorities
Michigan has 82 regional public transportation entities serving rural and urban areas. These entities can be liable for any injuries caused by their bus drivers operating their vehicles negligently at the time of an accident.
City or State Governments
Your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against a government entity if unsafe road conditions, lack of proper signage, or poor infrastructure caused your accident. For example, if the bus hit a telephone pole due to swerving to avoid a large pothole, the entity responsible for maintaining the road in that area may have partial liability.
If your accident was due to defective bus parts, such as tires, brakes, steering wheel, or other components, the parts manufacturer may be liable. Your lawyer can file a claim against a negligent manufacturing company asking for a settlement to cover your damages related to the crash.
Sometimes, bus accidents occur due to other motorists’ actions. For example, if a driver swerves into the bus lane, it can cause your bus to collide with other vehicles or stationary objects. If your attorney determines that part of the fault lies with another driver, they can help you file a claim against that person for compensation.
Filing a Bus Accident Lawsuit
After a bus accident, your auto insurance company will provide personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, attendant care, and household replacement services. However, if your medical treatment and compensation for lost wages exceed your PIP limits, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the party that caused your damages for additional financial recovery.
When Can You File a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
For crashes involving regional transportation authorities, such as the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DOT), you must submit a written notice to the authority within 60 days of the accident, or your claim will be dismissed.
A lawsuit against a private bus operator such as Greyhound is subject to the same three-year statute of limitations as general personal injury claims. Your attorney at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. will help you gather evidence and file documentation within these timelines.
Who Can File a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
In Michigan, anyone injured in a bus accident may file a lawsuit. This includes bus passengers, drivers, and passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident. However, you typically must have suffered serious injuries when filing a third-party lawsuit.
A personal representative on behalf of the family members of a loved one killed in a bus accident can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. In Michigan, you have three years from the date of a loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Your attorney with Cochran, Kroll, and Associates, P.C., can help you file for PIP benefits and discuss the benefits of filing a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for your injuries. Our attorneys will also explain how much you may be able to expect from a bus accident lawsuit based on your damages and explain the legal process.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Bus Accident Lawsuit?
The damages you can win in your third-party claim against the bus company include coverage for excess medical expenses and lost wages incurred beyond your PIP limits. You can also recover non-economic damages in your lawsuit. These non-economic damages include loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and physical pain and suffering.
Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you accurately calculate your damages to ensure you ask for a fair settlement for your injuries. We will use medical bills, W2s, statements from family and friends, and personal records like diary entries or pictures to prove your damages and win you a fair settlement.
How Long Does a Bus Accident Lawsuit Take?
Your bus accident case may take several weeks to months due to the legal process and investigation required to build a strong claim against the liable party. While insurance claims are typically settled within a few weeks or months, court cases can take much longer.
The time frame depends on the details of the crash; if the incident involves multiple parties or liability is contested, the case may take months or years to resolve.
Your attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. will use their expertise to move your case along as efficiently as possible. This includes obtaining witness testimony in depositions, gathering relevant evidence, and filing motions with the court.
Factors Affecting Bus Settlement Amounts
Several factors can influence the average settlement amount in a bus accident case, including the severity of injuries sustained, existing evidence, insurance coverage, and each party’s liability. Each case is unique, and these factors can vary significantly, ultimately affecting the final settlement amount.
Severity of Injuries
Severe injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, will likely result in higher settlement amounts to compensate for the medical bills and pain and suffering resulting from the accident. For instance, high tetraplegia causes upper and lower body paralysis due to a severe spine injury. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation reports an average treatment cost for this injury of $1,064,716 in the first year and $184,891 in subsequent years.
Evidence in the Case
Evidence such as eyewitness accounts, medical records, and police reports can help support your case and raise the settlement amount. For example, an eyewitness can testify about the circumstances leading up to the accident, such as seeing a bus driver speeding through an intersection and disregarding the traffic lights. The police reports can also provide valuable information about the accident, such as whether any traffic laws were violated or if any citations were issued.
PIP could impact your settlement amount since it limits compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Michigan drivers can select their PIP levels ranging from unlimited coverage to $50,000 in PIP coverage. Bus drivers and companies involved in the accident may be liable for additional compensation if your medical bills and lost wages exceed your current PIP limits.
Liability of Parties Involved
Establishing the responsible party’s liability for your injuries affects the average settlement for a bus accident. For instance, you need to prove the following for a bus accident lawsuit:
- The bus driver owed you a duty of care
- The driver failed their duty due to their negligent behavior
- Their actions caused your injuries and damages
Michigan’s modified comparative negligence law can reduce your settlement amount based on the percentage of fault. For example, if the court finds you liable for 20% of the bus accidents, you would receive 80% of your compensation. However, you won’t recover any damages if your percentage of fault exceeds 51%.
Statistics on Average Settlement Amounts
Payouts for motor vehicle accidents can vary from a few hundred to millions of dollars, depending on the extent of the injuries or damages. Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. has a successful track record of securing settlements for accident victims in Michigan.
We work closely with our clients to help them maximize their compensation. Past settlements we have achieved for our clients include:
- A jury in Tuscola County awarded $3.3 million to a driver with a brain injury after getting into an accident on a defective Michigan highway
- $1.4 million for a Livonia pedestrian with a brain injury after an accident with a van in Redford
- $80,000 for a Bay City grandmother with a broken leg following a car accident
Tips for Receiving a Maximum Settlement
Your actions after the bus accident can make a difference in the amount of compensation you receive. To maximize your settlement, consider the following tips:
- Gather strong evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim, including accident reports, photographs, witness statements, medical records, and other relevant documentation. This evidence can strengthen your case and demonstrate the extent of your damages.
- Seek immediate medical attention: Seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries and follow through with all recommended treatments. This helps establish a clear link between the accident and your injuries, ensuring that your medical expenses and pain and suffering are appropriately documented. Eileen Kroll, our nurse attorney, will use her medical background to review your records and calculate your damages based on current and future medical expenses.
- Consult with an experienced attorney: Hire a reputable personal injury attorney who specializes in bus accident cases. They will have the expertise to navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight for your rights. An attorney can assess the value of your claim and ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Document your damages: Keep detailed records of all financial losses, including medical bills, medication costs, therapy expenses, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. This documentation will help you present a comprehensive and accurate picture of your damages during settlement negotiations.
- Be cautious with insurance companies: Insurance adjusters may try to minimize your claim and offer a low settlement amount. Avoid providing recorded statements without consulting your attorney, and do not accept any settlement offers without careful evaluation. Your attorney can handle communications with the insurance company on your behalf to protect your rights and negotiate a fair settlement.
Hiring a Lawyer Can Increase Your Compensation in a Bus Accident
Hiring an experienced lawyer following a bus accident can increase your chances of obtaining higher compensation. A lawyer’s expertise in personal injury law allows them to effectively navigate the complexities of liability, insurance claims, and negotiation processes.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our legal team can gather crucial evidence, accurately estimate the full extent of your damages, and advocate on your behalf against insurance companies or in court, to secure a settlement that truly reflects the physical, emotional, and financial impact of the accident on your life.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.