Bus collisions can cause traumatic injuries that lead to long-term physical impairments or permanent disability. As a result, treatment costs for these injuries and other expenses can be extensive and ongoing, and financial stress can overwhelm bus accident victims.
If you suffered injuries in a bus accident due to another party’s negligence, you can consult a Fort Worth bus accident lawyer today on our team. At the Domingo Garcia, we will investigate your case, gather evidence, and advocate for your best interests while pursuing fair compensation for your losses. You can contact us today to learn more about your rights and legal options during a free consultation.
How Can Our Fort Worth Bus Accident Lawyer Help Your Case?
When a person gets hurt in a bus crash and seeks compensation for their losses, their case falls under personal injury or tort law. From the first investigation to a settlement or verdict, our personal injury lawyers help accident survivors navigate the legal process to secure a financial award. More specifically, they will handle the following:
- Collecting and preserving physical and forensic evidence
- Obtaining statements from witnesses and law enforcement
- Gathering relevant documentation such as medical records, accident reports, income statements, etc.
- Reviewing photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and your injuries
- Ensuring you have access to the medical treatment and therapies you need
- Using evidence to identify the responsible party(s) and prove their liability
- Identifying and calculating financial losses, such as medical and mental health bills and lost income
- Determining potential future losses’ impact
- Estimating emotional and personal losses such as pain and suffering and disability
- Communicating and negotiating with insurance companies seeking a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and pursuing compensation in court, if necessary
Recoverable Damages in a Fort Worth Bus Accident Case
Bus accident damages can be catastrophic. If you were in a bus accident in the Fort Worth area, you might be struggling with life-altering physical and psychological injuries that are costly to treat. Moreover, the accident may have totaled your vehicle, and you may have had to miss work while in the hospital. But being forced to pay for damages that weren’t your fault would be unjust.
Fortunately, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 41 grants victims of negligence the right to seek financial compensation from the liable party. You can pursue economic (financial) and non-economic (non-financial) damages. Furthermore, the damages you claim can be based on past, present, and future losses.
Economic damages have a clear and precise monetary cost. The evidence, such as bills, receipts, pay stubs, bank statements, etc., can support these damages. You may also use expert witness testimony to support claims for future economic damages, such as diminished earning capacity and continued medical care.
Economic damages you could claim include:
- Medical bills for the ambulance, emergency care, hospital stay, physical therapy, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, medical equipment and devices, psychotherapy, etc.
- Property damage repair or replacement costs for anything damaged in the accident, such as a wrecked or totaled vehicle, a broken phone or computer, ruined clothing, etc.
- Lost income due to missing work while recovering from your injuries
- Diminished future earning capacity due to permanent disability
Some bus accident losses have a personal cost that isn’t easy to calculate. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be compensated for them. Your lawyer will employ legal formulas in association with expert witness testimony and other evidence to estimate a financial cost for these damages.
Non-economic damages you could pursue include the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological anguish
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Long-term or permanent disability
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
Wrongful Death Compensation
If your loved one was fatally injured in a Fort Worth bus accident, you might be able to recover compensation for wrongful death damages, such as the following:
- The decedent’s physical pain and suffering before their passing
- The mental anguish of their survivors
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The decedent’s outstanding medical bills
- The decedent’s lost income
- The decedent’s lost healthcare and other work-related benefits
- Loss of parental support for child
- Loss of consortium and companionship
Punitive damages are exemplary damages that penalize the liable party to deter wrongdoing in the future. Although these damages aren’t distributed that often, they apply in cases where the defendant is guilty of gross negligence or malice.
Punitive damages might be warranted in your bus accident case if it resulted from an act such as drunk driving or road rage. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if your case could call for punitive damages.
Bus Accident Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Texas
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, you have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death action against the liable party. It’s important to remember that if you do not seek damages before this statute of limitations expires, you likely will miss your chance to pursue damages.
Also, depending on whether the bus was privately or publicly owned, the statute of limitations could be even shorter. Overall, our Fort Worth bus accident lawyer can advise you on your options.
How do Fort Worth Bus Accident Attorneys Negotiate With Insurance Companies?
After you file a claim with the insurance company, an adjuster will investigate your accident and may offer you a settlement. This payment is typically a low amount, far less than you are entitled to, and presented long before you know the full extent of your injuries and losses. After receiving this offer, you can either accept it or attempt to negotiate a higher settlement.
If you accept the initial settlement, you’ll lose your right to receive further compensation from the insurer. Therefore, if your medical bills exceed the accepted offer, you might have little choice but to pay for them on your own. You can refuse all settlement offers until you fully recover from your injuries and have assessed all your financial damages. You also can consult with an injury attorney who can review the offers and advise you on what to do next.
Once a personal injury attorney represents you, they can communicate with insurers for you. From that point on, you don’t need to have any direct contact with them. Once you’ve recovered from your injuries as much as expected, your lawyer will gather medical records and bills to support your expenses. They will then send a demand letter to the insurer, who will review the request and respond with an offer.
An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate aggressively with the insurance company to secure a full and fair settlement.
The Role of Evidence in a Fort Worth Bus Accident Case
Evidence is essential for calculating damages and proving liability. To receive compensation, you must prove that another party is liable, and the losses you claim must also be supported by evidence. Evidence that you and your attorney can use to strengthen your case may include the following:
- Statements from witnesses of the bus accidents
- Supporting testimony from expert witnesses, such as police officers, doctors, therapists, accident reconstructionists, and photogrammetry experts
- Photos and videos that captured the accident or its aftermath taken by witnesses nearby
- CCTV surveillance footage that captured the accident on video
- Dashcam footage from the bus or other nearby vehicles that recorded the accident
- Photos and videos taken by your legal team after the accident of the vehicles involved, surrounding conditions, and any property damage that occurred
- Police reports from officers that responded to the accident
- Medical records detailing the extent of your injuries
- Medical bills detailing the financial cost of treating your injuries
- Receipts or bills detailing any property damage you incurred
- Employee records of the bus driver from their employer
- Bus safety inspection reports and maintenance records
- The black box and logbook from the bus
Special Considerations in Bus Accident Cases
If you are filing a lawsuit against a bus line such as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA), your claim may be affected by multiple liability rules and procedures. The FWTA is a “common carrier” that offers public transportation at a fixed rate, as the Texas Administrative Code defines. Common carriers are subjected to a higher standard of care because passengers entrust their safety and well-being to the bus company while riding.
The bus line is responsible for hiring, training, and supervising drivers and performing regular vehicle maintenance. Because only the bus company and its drivers can ensure riders are safe, passengers must be protected by a higher duty of care. Therefore, public entities are often held responsible in lawsuits, and government subdivisions and municipalities often operate them.
Normally, sovereign immunity protects government entities from liability for injuries resulting from their negligence. However, Texas has enacted the Texas Tort Claims Act that waives this impunity to some extent. But there’s a catch—this statute also imposes special rules and procedures, and failure to adhere to these can mean an injury survivor relinquishes the right to pursue a lawsuit against the government entity.
Fault-Based Insurance in Texas
Drivers in Texas are subject to a fault-based (tort) insurance system. This basically means that whoever is at fault for the accident is liable for paying damages. In practice, individual drivers carry auto insurance that covers these damages if they are at fault for an accident.
On top of standard insurance, some drivers elect to get personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, as the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) notes. If you have this coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company to receive compensation immediately. With PIP, you’ll receive some compensation to make up for lost wages and other costs without first having to go through the entire process of pursuing compensation from the other driver’s insurer.
Liability in a Fort Worth Bus Accident
Bus accidents can involve multiple vehicles in a wide variety of circumstances. For this reason, more than one party could be partially responsible for the accident and your resulting damages. Potentially liable parties in a Fort Worth bus accident may include the following:
- The bus driver
- The driver’s employer or the bus company
- The school district administration
- The mechanic or maintenance company responsible for maintaining the bus
- The manufacturer of the bus or one of its parts
- The local government
- Another third-party, such as another driver, a pedestrian or cyclist, or a bus passenger
Establishing Negligence and Liability
Again, to recover compensation for damages, you must prove that another party is liable for compensating you. Liability in Texas is based on the negligence of the other party. More precisely, if the accident was caused by the negligent action or omission of the other party, they are responsible for the consequences of their negligence.
Proving negligence requires you or your attorney to demonstrate the following essential legal elements regarding the accident:
- Duty of care: This basic principle asserts that all people must act in such a way as to avoid harming anyone else. For example, a bus driver owes a legal duty to their passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers to pay attention, drive safely, not break traffic laws, etc. Similarly, a bus company owes the public a duty of care to ensure the drivers they employ are adequately trained and don’t have a history of negligent driving. In your case, you must prove this legal duty of care applied to the other party at the time of the bus accident.
- Breach of duty: Next, you and your attorney must prove the other party violated or breached their legal duty of care through a negligent action or inaction. For example, if a driver is drunk while operating a bus, this endangers their passengers and other drivers. Therefore, it is a breach of duty.
- Causation: After you prove the other party owed you a duty of care and breached it, you must prove the breach was the proximate cause of your damages. In your case, you must prove the accident and your injuries would not have occurred if the negligent breach of duty didn’t happen. Proving proximate causation can be tricky, as sometimes it can involve the combined negligence of multiple parties.
- Damages: Finally, your attorney must prove the accident and your injuries made you suffer compensatory losses.
Establishing these four elements is not always straightforward and can take a substantial amount of work. For these reasons, you can retain a Fort Worth bus accident attorney to ensure you hold the liable party financially accountable for the damages they caused.
Common Causes of Fort Worth Bus Accidents
Thousands of Texas residents and others throughout the country suffer injuries in bus accidents. Most crash survivors were bus occupants or riding in passenger vehicles. The following factors commonly cause these accidents:
Driving takes a lot of focus, especially when operating large vehicles, such as a bus. If a driver is distracted, they could run a red light, rear-end a car in front of the bus, or hit a pedestrian. Bus drivers can be distracted by their cell phones, tuning the radio station, looking in the mirror, or even by rowdy or talkative passengers.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Whether drunk or on other drugs, driving a bus while intoxicated is extremely dangerous for passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Intoxication can happen even when a person takes medication as prescribed. That said, they are not absolved of responsibility if the effects of their medication impact their driving ability. A driver operating under the influence can experience impaired vision, awareness, reaction time, decision-making, and coordination, all of which are crucial for safe driving.
Traffic violations, such as speeding, failing to signal lane changes or turns, following too closely, failing to yield, and reckless driving, can cause accidents. Indeed, these seemingly simple moving violations are illegal for that very reason. Buses are large and heavy and can cause extensive damage in accidents. For this reason, it is essential for bus drivers to obey traffic laws.
Operating a bus can be challenging, and the vehicle stopping takes longer. All things considered, an inadequately trained bus driver is much more likely to cause an accident. Because of this, busing companies must ensure all drivers they employ receive the proper training and license to drive a bus.
A bus includes hundreds of individual components and parts, each playing a specific role in allowing the bus to operate. Some parts can be defective and cause little to no trouble. But if the brakes stop working at high speeds, it could spell disaster for the passengers and anyone in its path. Likewise, if a bus’s headlights go out at night, even a trained driver may have difficulty avoiding an accident. If a defective part causes a bus accident, the bus’s manufacturer or maintenance company could be liable for related damages.
Common Injuries in Fort Worth Bus Accidents
Many public and commercial buses do not have seat belts or other safety features like airbags. Also, standing passengers only have overhead straps or poles to hold on to on some of these buses. If there is an accident, they can be thrown about and collide with hard surfaces. Such impact trauma might result in brain injuries, broken bones, organ damage, and other catastrophic injuries.
In addition, occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists involved in a bus accident can also sustain severe, life-threatening, and fatal injuries.
Common injuries caused by bus accidents may include the following:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
TBIs occur when a person’s head strikes an object with enough force to damage the brain. For example, in bus accidents, a crash can send unbelted passengers into the ceiling, causing head injuries. Brain damage is usually permanent and can result in profound and life-altering effects. A person with a TBI could suffer changes in reasoning, memory, concentration, emotional regulation, personality, hearing, speech, and more.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
SCIs occur when the bundle of nerves that travels down a person’s spine is damaged or severed. For example, a bus accident can cause severe whiplash or crush injuries that injure the spinal cord in the neck or back. The effects of an SCI can vary depending on the location and severity of the damage. SCI effects can range from chronic pain and weakness to paralysis of all four limbs.
The force generated during a bus accident is enough to break or crush bones. And while modern medicine can often fully heal a broken bone, severe fractures or crushed limbs can lead to chronic pain and permanent disability. In the worst cases, a surgeon may have to amputate a critically damaged limb to save a person’s life.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Along with broken bones, a person may sustain damaged or torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Damaged soft tissues can require months of treatment and physical therapy, often leading to permanent impairments.
Internal Organ Damage
The impact of a bus accident can sometimes lead to organ damage and internal bleeding. Vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc., can endanger a person’s life if they cease functioning.
When vehicles collide, their fuel can sometimes ignite, causing a fire, and the occupants trapped inside can suffer severe burns. These burns can be excruciating and become infected, leading to months in the hospital and numerous reconstructive surgeries. Moreover, burns frequently leave a person permanently scarred and disfigured.
Call Us Today – Our Fort Worth Bus Accident Lawyer Can Help
Injured bus crash survivors should not have to pay for their losses. Unfortunately, many insurance companies make settlement offers that usually fall short of fairly compensating individuals for their injuries, medical expenses, and lost income. Although no amount of money will restore your life before the accident, you are entitled to receive economic justice and collect the maximum amount of compensation available.
For more than three decades, Domingo Garcia and his legal teams have been fighting for survivors of accidents and their families. Our Fort Worth bus accident lawyers will do everything possible to secure a financial award that covers your accident-related losses. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about your rights and options for restitution.