California has some of the most highly developed mass transit systems in the United States, serving millions of riders each year. Traveling by mass transit is statistically safer than driving your own personal vehicle, but accidents still happen. If you have suffered injuries in a bus accident, there are four things to keep in mind to help protect your legal right to compensation for accident-related expenses.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Serious injuries can result from a bus accident, so it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should go to the ER if you are experiencing injuries that require immediate attention, but you can make an appointment with your regular healthcare provider if you are only experiencing minor discomfort. Remember that even if you feel fine after the crash, symptoms such as a headache or stiff neck could turn out to be signs of a more serious problem.
Regardless of where you choose to seek medical treatment, it is vital that you follow the doctor's instructions precisely. Ignoring follow-up appointments or engaging in activities that go against medical advice—such as returning to work before you are physically ready—can complicate your personal injury claim.
Start a Paper Trail
Documentation is often vital to the success of a personal injury claim, so you should start a paper trail for your case as soon as you are physically able. For example:
- Note the time and location of the accident, as well as the bus number and route number.
- Get the bus driver's name and badge number, if applicable.
- Jot down a physical description of the driver to aid in later identification.
- If you have your phone with you, take a selfie or record a short video to prove you were a passenger on the bus.
- Get the names and contact information for any passengers who may be able to act as witnesses.
- Make sure you provide your information to the authorities, the bus driver or some other responsible individual so there is confirmation that you were on the bus at the time of the collision
As you recover from your injuries, documentation should include:
- Bills for emergency care and follow-up appointments
- Costs for prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Pay stubs showing lost wages
- Photos showing how visible injuries such as cuts and scrapes are healing
- A written journal of your daily symptoms related to the accident, including emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression
Understand Your Right to Compensation
A personal injury claim from a mass transit crash typically includes compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, including immediate care related to the accident and any applicable future medical needs if you have been left permanently disabled.
- Lost wages from the time you were recovering from your injuries, as well as loss of future earning potential if you have suffered a permanent disability that will affect your ability to return to work.
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with your injuries.
Common carriers such as mass transit bus operators are held to extremely high standards regarding their duty to ensure the safety of their passengers. The bus company, or the public agency which operates the bus system, is financially liable for your injuries if the bus driver is at fault for the accident.
If another driver caused the accident, your claim is with his or her insurance company. If both the bus driver and another driver contributed to the accident, each party is partially responsible for your expenses in accordance with their percentage of fault.
If the accident involves a public bus line, remember that the time for bringing a claim for injuries is much shorter, even as short as six months for the date of the collision. Claims against private bus companies can often be made up to two years following the collision.
Consult an Attorney
Personal injury claims involving mass transit crashes can present special legal challenges, so it is in your best interests to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Do not sign any documents or provide any official statements to the insurance company before you have consulted an experienced personal injury attorney.
Your attorney can help line up the necessary evidence to support your case and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, leaving you free to focus on recovering from your injuries. The experienced legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is committed to helping California residents resolve their personal injury claims promptly and fairly. Call (888) 694-3529 today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville locations.