While buses are perceived as a safe mode of transportation, there are hundreds of bus accidents in Florida every year, some of them resulting in significant injuries and even fatalities. If you were riding a bus and ended up getting hurt in an accident, filing a claim to recover compensation for your injuries is not always a straightforward process. Our personal injury law firm has handled several bus accident cases and helped clients receive a fair settlement for their losses. Here are a few answers to common questions we receive every day.
What Steps Should I Take if I Have Been Hurt While Riding a Bus in Miami?
After a bus accident, your priority is to call 911 and get emergency medical help. Even if you don’t feel hurt or believe your injuries are not serious, there may be other bus passengers that were injured or other vehicles involved. A bus accident is a potentially catastrophic event, so getting first responders to the accident site should always be the first step.
If your injuries are not life-threatening and if it is safe to do so, try and gather as much information about the accident scene as possible. Details about the bus you were riding (was it a private charter bus or a city bus? Does it have a number or specific route? Can you get the driver’s name? What other information can you collect?), as well as names and numbers of any witnesses, might be helpful when it is time to submit a claim. Take pictures and videos if you can.
Who Is Financially Responsible For My Bus Accident Injuries?
Determining who is financially liable for a bus accident can be a complex task with many variables. If the bus accident was caused by the bus driver’s negligence or reckless actions, you may be able to sue that driver directly; however, in most cases, if the driver was employed by a private bus company, the company may carry some form of liability insurance that covers accidents in which an employee may have been at fault. If the bus accident was caused by a third party, such as another vehicle, you may be able to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. Another possibility is that if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure, the bus company may be held responsible if they failed to properly maintain the bus. If the accident was caused by a mechanical failure originating from a manufacturing defect, then you might be able to file a product liability claim against the bus manufacturer.
Finally, things get even more complex if the bus involved in the accident was owned by a government entity, such as public transport buses, school buses, and other city or state-owned vehicles. While you still may be able to file a claim against the governmental agency that owns and operates that bus, you will need to follow a separate set of steps and be very attentive to the deadlines for submitting a claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Bus Accident Claim?
The deadline for filing a bus accident claim varies depending on whether you are dealing with a private or public entity. For buses that are privately owned and operated, each insurance carrier will have its own deadlines for receiving a claim. Generally speaking, Florida law allows a personal injury claim to be filed up to four years following the date of the accident.
However, if the accident involved a government-owned bus, the deadline for filing is reduced to 3 years after the date of the accident. Claims for wrongful death involving a public-owned bus have even less time – 2 years – before expiring. For all of these reasons, the best course of action is filing your claim as soon as possible, as waiting may be detrimental to your case.
Can I Sue the Government for a Public Transit Bus Accident?
The Florida Statute Title XLV Chapter 768.28 states that government agencies and subdivisions “shall be liable for tort claims in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but liability shall not include punitive damages or interest for the period before judgment.” This means one can file a tort (injury) claim against the state, but additional claims such as punitive damages cannot be filed. There are also limits to how much money you may be able to recover – up to a maximum of $200,000.00 in most cases.
Bus accident cases, including those involving a government-owned bus, are exceptionally complex. Our personal injury and bus accident law firm has assisted countless clients to build their claims and to recover compensation for their injuries, economic losses, and emotional stress following a bus accident. We have the knowledge to help you identify which parties may have been responsible for your accident and what types of evidence you may need to build a strong case in your favor – even when dealing with a government agency. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident while riding a public or private bus, contact Lipcon & Lipcon, P.A. and request a free consultation to learn your options.