Bus accidents can be devastating, leaving passengers and motorists with debilitating injuries. When bus accidents involve pedestrians, they can be left with catastrophic injuries they may never recover from.
If you suffered injuries in a bus accident, you may be able to recover damages from the bus operator or the bus company. These damages can compensate you for losses such as medical bills, missed work, and pain and suffering.
A lawyer from Domingo Garcia can assist you by handling your claim and advising you of your rights. We will file a lawsuit and take your case to court if that is what it takes to get you full justice. During a free consultation, we will tell you more about working with a Texas bus accident lawyer and answer your questions about our practice areas and legal services.
What Should I Do If I Get Hit by a Bus in Texas?
Bus accidents can be serious personal injury incidents, and bus accident cases can be complicated. While it is important to begin your case against the liable party as soon as possible, it is also important to address your injuries immediately.
If you were a pedestrian, motorist, or passenger involved in a bus accident, you may have been severely injured. Some injuries, like concussions and brain injuries, may not show symptoms immediately, and these injuries can be serious, requiring medical attention. Regardless, if you haven’t gotten medical attention yet or if you may still need medical care, we encourage you to get it immediately.
To protect your rights, contact a Texas bus accident lawyer at Domingo Garcia as soon as possible. The lawyer can tell you whether you have a case against the local government or commercial bus company, and if so, your lawyer can prepare your claim or lawsuit and pursue compensation for you.
Can You Get Compensation for a Bus Crash in Texas?
After your bus accident, you may wonder who is liable and who you can collect compensation from. When a bus driver causes an accident and injuries, the injured party can generally pursue monetary damages from the driver’s employer. This is because of a legal doctrine, respondeat superior, that makes the employer vicariously liable for their workers’ negligence under certain circumstances.
In Texas, there are both local government-owned buses and commercial company-owned buses, which can make a bus accident case complicated. If the bus is a local government bus, damage caps will apply to your case and strict notice deadlines, which may be as short as 30 days, that could bar your case if not met.
Government-owned buses include the following:
- School buses
- City buses
- Public transportation for disabled people
Commercially-owned buses belong to a private company or another entity other than the government. These buses can be:
- Commercial buses (such as those owned and operated by a company like Greyhound)
- Shuttle buses (hotel shuttle buses, airport shuttle buses, and others)
- Nursing home buses
- Church buses
- Casino buses
- Charter buses
- Private coaches
Recovering Your Compensation
It can be difficult to recover compensation in a government-owned bus case. Texas law gives government-owned bus lines a lot of protection from being sued, even if an accident is entirely the fault of a driver with a government bus line. It can also be difficult to recover compensation from private companies since these companies are protected by insurance companies and attorneys.
Additionally, Texas has caps on the damage amounts in cases involving government-owned buses. These caps are $250,000 per victim and $500,000 per incident or $100,000 per victim and $300,000 per incident, depending upon what governmental entity owns the bus. Due to these restrictions, you may have difficulty recovering all your due damages in their full amounts.
One of our firm’s Texas bus accident lawyers can help you recover compensation, for example, by taking an entity to court and fighting there for a fair verdict. We also handle a wide range of bus accident insurance claims, including public transportation accidents, fatal accidents, and more.
What Damages Can I Get in a Texas Bus Accident Claim?
Through a bus accident claim (or lawsuit), you can demand both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible damages that can be quantified easily. Non-economic damages are intangible damages that can also be quantified but not as easily.
One of our firm’s lawyers can help you list your economic and non-economic damages. The following is a breakdown of the damages you could list in your claim or lawsuit:
- Non-economic damages: These damages include physical impairment, disability, pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional damages, disfigurement, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium. Mental and emotional damages count as injuries in a bus accident.
- Property damages: If any of the victim’s property (such as their vehicle) was damaged or destroyed in the accident, they can demand compensation. This could also cover personal property they had on them as a bus passenger, such as a laptop, smartphone, or eyeglasses.
- Medical costs: These economic damages are usually easy to quantify. They can include costs for immediate and ongoing treatment, such as treatment for a brain injury or therapy due to a lifelong injury sustained in a bus accident. Medical costs can be hospital and surgical expenses, future medical or doctor visits, the costs of medications, physical and occupational therapies, mental health counseling, accommodative home renovations, attendant or home health care, and assistive medical equipment (such as a wheelchair).
- Lost income and earnings ability: You may be unable to work for some time due to your injuries. As a result, you may be unable to earn income and collect benefits from work. You can seek and recover these damages from all jobs you work and any other source.
- Lost earning capacity: An injury like a brain injury can prevent you from working the same job you did previously. You can demand this loss of earning capacity as a damage. If you have suffered a permanent injury, your ability to work at the same level may be compromised, or your ability to compete in the job market may be lowered. Texas law allows you to recover for all these losses.
- Pain and suffering: This is a non-economic damage. You may be feeling severe pain and suffering greatly after a bus accident. You can demand this as a damage.
- Mental anguish: If your mental health is compromised due to your injuries, you can demand this damage, too.
If you are pursuing compensation from the government, you may be restricted to claiming certain damages. Your lawyer will help determine which damages you are restricted to and the limits that apply in these cases.
Wrongful Death Damages
You may have lost a family member in a tragic bus accident. If so, we are very sorry this happened. We would like to help you demand wrongful death damages. A wrongful death case helps surviving family members recover compensation and hold the negligent bus driver accountable.
These damages compensate the family of a victim. You and your family may be able to recover the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Lost parental support
- Lost family income
- Unresolved medical bills, including end-of-life care bills
- Funeral and burial/cremation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
These damages are rarely distributed, but they are distributed in some cases involving gross negligence and a lawsuit. You and your lawyer can discuss whether you can pursue such damages in your case.
How do You Quantify Damages in a Bus Accident Case?
Generally, economic damages can be quantified with documentation. For example, your lawyer can review your medical bills to quantify your medical costs or review your pay stubs to quantify your lost earnings. However, non-economic damages are not quantified so easily with documentation.
To quantify your non-economic damages, you or a lawyer from our firm may have to refer to experts, such as a medical expert. Such an expert can perform a medical exam and testing to determine your level of disability or impairment or the extent your injuries will result in lifelong problems. This could give you or your lawyer a better idea of how to financially evaluate your damages. Our firm’s lawyers have various experts they can refer to, including medical experts and bus accident reconstructionists.
Our lawyers also have various methods for valuing non-economic damages, specifically. Insurance companies recognize these methods, so the insurance company in your case will likely approve of the valuation method we use.
How do I Prove My Damages in My Texas Bus Accident Case?
To obtain any compensation, you or one of our firm’s lawyers must establish your damages. This requires more than simply listing and evaluating the damages. It requires actual proof and evidence.
To prove your damages, your lawyer can call on experts, like your doctor. A bus accident reconstructionist, a human factors expert, a biomedical engineer, or a photogrammetry expert may also be of service. Such experts can provide written statements or testimony about the damages you are experiencing.
Your lawyer can gather evidence from other sources, too. In your bus accident case, these sources may be:
- Witnesses of the accident
- A witness’s collection of photos of the accident scene
- Driver’s camera on the bus that may catch the accident
- The police report
- The crash report
- Your medical records
- Safety inspection reports
- Maintenance records
- The bus’s black box
- The bus’s logbook, if applicable
- The bus driver’s employee profile
Another Invaluable Service
When a claim is filed after a bus accident, it is imperative that any evidence related to the case is not lost or destroyed. When important evidence is destroyed, this is known as “spoliation of evidence.” Your lawyer can send a spoliation of evidence letter to a bus company that will request the preservation of evidence that is essential to your case.
These letters implore the bus company to protect and preserve any potential evidence in the case. This could include records about the bus or driver, info from the bus’s onboard computer or recorder, post-accident drug and alcohol test results, the driver’s medical clearance, and other evidence.
How do I Claim Compensation After a Bus Crash in Texas?
To get compensation after a bus accident, you should take certain steps in order to file a claim. You will need to:
- Report the accident
- Get the name of the bus company
- Get the name of any bus employees involved
Alternatively, obtaining a copy of the accident report filed by responding police officers should provide this information. This is essential if you suffered serious injuries and could not gather evidence at the scene. Our attorneys can request and access this report.
Your lawyer can examine your evidence and identify any potential at-fault parties. Then, we can file the claim for you through the proper channels. This will often be an insurance company, but in the case of government-owned buses, it could be the local government.
If the at-fault parties do not offer you fair and adequate compensation, your attorney may choose to take your case to trial. However, many claims settle out of court without a trial.
Does a Bus Driver Have a Duty of Care in Texas?
Both private bus companies and government-owned bus lines have a duty of care (a responsibility to be careful) to bus passengers. The duty of bus companies in Texas is important because Texas law considers commercial buses “common carriers.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires bus companies and drivers to follow federal safety regulations that are designed to keep passengers safe. According to these regulations, bus companies and lines must ensure that:
- Their bus drivers are fit for the job
- Their employees drive a safe distance from other vehicles
- Their employees yield to pedestrians
- Their employees remain focused and alert on the job
- Their employees do not fall asleep at the wheel
- Their vehicles are properly maintained
Breaching a Duty of Care
When an entity (or an employee of that entity) does not act per its duty of care, they breach this duty. Some examples of breaches of duty in bus accident cases are hiring a bus driver unfit for the job or failing to maintain the parts of a vehicle.
Your lawyer will prove the responsible party’s negligence by proving they owed you a duty of care and breached it. With an accident reconstruction expert’s help, we can show how the other party caused the accident and that you now have damages because of them.
What Are Some Common Injuries in Texas Bus Accident Cases?
Since transit buses typically are not outfitted with seatbelts, and many passengers stand in the aisles, passengers involved in accidents can suffer severe or catastrophic injuries. Many of these people may lose their lives due to their injuries. Accidents involving charter buses, tour buses, and other buses can also result in serious injuries.
Pedestrians are just as vulnerable as passengers are since they have no way to protect themselves before an incident. Although motorists are protected by their vehicles, they can also suffer serious injuries and fatalities.
Commonly, bus accident victims suffer injuries like:
- Head, skull, and brain injuries: These can occur when passengers are thrown forward during a collision, when pedestrians fall to the road after a collision, or when motorists suffer a jolt. Concussions are also common bus accident injuries.
- Neck or back injuries: These injuries commonly result in paralysis. Paraplegia (paralysis of the lower body) and quadriplegia (paralysis of the upper and lower body) can occur when the spinal cord is severely traumatized. Whiplash or disc herniation are also common types of injuries in bus accidents.
- Broken bones: These fractures may require immediate surgery or take months to recover from after the accident. Many fractures cause lifetime pain and impairment even when surgically fixed.
- Lacerations: These can occur if the windows shatter inside a vehicle during a bus collision.
Is the Bus Company Liable for the Injuries of the Passengers?
Commercial bus companies (and government bus lines) can be held liable for any injuries to passengers, pedestrians, or motorists. When an entity is held liable, you can recover compensation from them.
To prove an entity is liable, you must establish that the entity was negligent. Your attorney will help you collect evidence to prove liability in your bus accident claim.
Proving negligence and liability are difficult but necessary. One of the Texas bus accident lawyers from our firm can prove the four elements of negligence on your behalf. Your lawyer can refer to experts if it helps prove negligence and liability.
Texas Vehicle Accident Laws You Should Know
Since your accident, you have likely been managing your injuries and family matters. You can keep managing these things while an attorney from our firm manages legal matters for you. Your attorney can file your claim or lawsuit under Texas law, but you should still know certain laws and legal systems that may affect your claim or lawsuit.
Texas’s Fault System
In Texas, vehicle accident victims must file their claims with the liable party’s insurance company. In bus accident cases, if the other party is a commercial bus company, you must also file their claim with the company’s insurance company. However, if the other party in the case is a government bus line, you must file their claim with the local government within a short period of time—sometimes, you must do so within 30 days.
If you have personal injury protection coverage (PIP), you could file a claim with your insurance company. This will not affect your later claim against the bus company and will provide you money to help with bills and lost wages immediately. You and your attorney can discuss your options together.
Texas’s Statute of Limitations
A bus accident lawsuit or any other type of personal injury lawsuit must be filed before the two-year filing deadline expires, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.003. This law is called the statute of limitations. Your lawyer can explain the law in greater detail and help you meet the deadline for a lawsuit or potential lawsuit.
But remember, if the bus is government-owned, you must file a claim even faster with the government unit that owns and operates the bus, or you will be forever barred from making a claim or filing a lawsuit. This deadline can be as short as 30 days, so do not delay in contacting our office. During our free consultation, we will inform you of all claim notice deadlines.
Hiring a Texas Bus Accident Attorney
You may be hesitating to hire an attorney after a crash. That is understandable, considering the financial and family matters you are facing. However, hiring an attorney from our firm is affordable as there are no upfront or continual costs.
When you hire one of our attorneys, your attorney will work for you at no cost unless and until your attorney is successful with your case. If your attorney recovers compensation for you, you will simply pay your attorney a small portion of the recovery amount.
If you do not win, we do not get paid. There is nothing to lose by hiring one of our Texas bus accident attorneys. We will tell you more about the arrangement during a free consultation with a team member.
About Our Texas Bus Accident Legal Team
Our legal team has assisted people like you for over three decades. Our clients are bus accident victims and other injury victims throughout Texas. If you become our next client, you can leave the insurance company or government entity in your case to us. We have a great deal of experience handling such entities and representing our clients to them.
We also help our clients get the medical care they may need. For example, we may be able to delay your medical payments until after we recover compensation for you, even if you don’t have health insurance.
We’ll also help you list, evaluate, and prove your damages and then establish negligence and liability in your case, even if it means suing a government entity. We will go to great lengths in our pursuit of your due damages.
Our Track Record
Our lead personal injury attorney, Domingo Garcia, has a long track record of success. He earned a spot in the Texas Top 50 Settlements for 2019. Recently, his team won nearly $3.8 million for a client who suffered paraplegia, a common injury in bus accident cases. We hope to add your case to our list of successes.
Connect With Us for a Bus Accident Lawyer in Texas
If you or a loved one suffered a bus accident, Domingo Garcia can help. We will start with a complimentary consultation. During this consultation, we will review your case with you and tell you more about working with one of our bus accident attorneys in Texas. Afterward, if you’d like to hire one of our attorneys, you can rely on your attorney throughout your case while focusing on your health and family.
Your bus accident may have been devastating for you and your family. However, it does not have to be financially devastating. Let an attorney from Domingo Garcia represent you and recover compensation on your behalf. Contact our firm today for your free consultation.