The law identifies public transportation providers, including public transit, school, freight, and charter or private buses as "common carriers." Under Nevada common carrier laws, bus drivers and bus companies have a heightened duty of care to their passengers. They must exercise more than ordinary care with the utmost diligence, skill, and human foresight. If you have suffered injuries following a bus accident, we invite you to contact the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. We have an in-depth understanding of the law and can help you pursue maximum compensation for damages suffered.
Driver or bus company negligence and refusal to comply with the law can lead to passenger injuries or wrongful death. In bus accidents, identifying the at-fault party is challenging. Sometimes, passengers, pedestrians, or other drivers can suffer damages not caused by the carrier operator's direct negligence or reckless actions. A competent bus accident attorney can help with investigations and identify the party liable for your damages.
Nevada Common Carrier Laws Explained
Las Vegas is busy all year round, with tourists and locals commuting from one point to another. Bus transportation is highly preferred for being pocket friendly. Common carriers, including public transport, long-distance, and charter buses, are busy all year round as they transport people to different destinations.
Nevada has strict laws and regulations that govern all public and private common carriers. Under the common carrier laws, they must exercise extraordinary care to ensure the safety of passengers, pedestrians, and other road users. Strict state and federal laws govern common carriers' operations because accidents often lead to mass injuries and fatalities.
So, why do common carriers have a higher duty of care?
Common carriers, including school buses, public buses, and charter services, provide transportation to their customers. The nature of this relationship means that passengers give up most of the potential to protect themselves. They have limited control over the safety and operation of the bus. While passengers also have a duty to take reasonable precautions, their hands remain tied in most cases.
The carrier-passenger relationship is critical in determining liability during a bus accident. This relationship unveils the duty of care owed to a passenger by the common carrier. The legal definition of a passenger is:
- Someone who boards a common carrier
- The common carrier accepts the person as a passenger on board
- The person places themselves under the control of a common carrier
The duty of care owed to a passenger by a common carrier begins when the company accepts the passenger on board. The responsibility ends after the bus provides the agreed transportation services and the passenger alights at a reasonably safe destination.
Common carriers can exercise their duty of care by:
- Ensuring the bus undergoes routine servicing and checkups for mechanical issues
- Ensuring carrier operators have proper training and credentials
- Driving responsibly while sober and focused on the road
- Providing clear warnings about any potential dangers
- Remaining vigilant when behind the wheel to avoid potential road hazards
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Common carriers often take great precautions in ensuring the safety of their customers. These companies also invest heavily in insurance policies to shield themselves from possible losses in case of bus accidents. Some of the common causes of bus accidents that can help determine who is liable for your injuries include:
Vehicle Defects and Insufficient Maintenance
All automobiles, including buses, require regular maintenance to function correctly. Buses subjected to heavy use are prone to extensive wear and tear, requiring more frequent servicing than private vehicles. Unfortunately, carrier companies sometimes fail to uphold the recommended bus maintenance practices.
Any delays or negligence in servicing a bus often spells disaster for the bus driver, passengers, and other road users. Accidents could occur because of brakes, engine, tire, or steering problems.
Blind Spot Collisions
Blind spots are road areas outside a driver's field of vision. The larger the blind spot, the greater the safety risk when driving around them. Unfortunately, collisions around blind spots often lead to catastrophic injuries because the sheer size of buses makes it harder to dash to safety or make sudden stops.
Another common cause of bus accidents is driver exhaustion. The lack of proper sleep and rest can make a driver too tired to focus on the road or remain mentally sharp to predict potential road hazards. If a transport company forces its drivers to work for long hours without proper rest, it is responsible for accidents caused by fatigued driving.
Poor Weather Conditions
Las Vegas enjoys excellent weather conditions nearly all year round. It is the fourth sunniest city in the United States, with an estimated 294 sunny days annually. On the flip side, this also means that bad-weather accidents can have devastating aftermaths because bus drivers have less experience driving in adverse weather.
Driving under the influence also puts the passengers of common carriers at risk of suffering catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. An intoxicated driver cannot remain mentally alert, and a situation can quickly end in tragedy. Moreover, intoxication can hinder the driver from acting with the utmost diligence, skill, and human foresight to prevent an accident.
Picking a call, tuning the radio, or answering the queries of a passenger can cause distracted driving. A driver that takes their eyes or mind off the road to attend to other issues can be liable for damages suffered in case of an accident.
Aggressive driving is yet another common cause of bus accidents. Common carriers are in the business for profits, and drivers may feel pressed to remain on schedule. This could lead to reckless driving, ignoring traffic signs, or overspeeding, which are violations that increase the risk of accidents.
High-speed auto accidents are notorious for causing life-threatening injuries and death. It is common for drivers in haste to make dangerous maneuvers and cause collisions.
Common Injuries in a Bus Accident
A bus accident can injure those inside and outside the vehicle. While escaping an incident without visible injuries is not alien, you must not underestimate the need to seek medical attention immediately. Seeking compensation for any damages from an accident can help shield you and your loved ones from emotional and financial hardship.
Some of the injuries victims sustain during a bus accident include but are not limited to:
- Brain injuries including concussions, contusions, and intracranial hematoma
- Spinal cord injuries that affect the lumbar, thoracic, or cervical regions
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Chest injuries causing grave issues like respiratory distress or myocardial contusion
- Limb fractures, lacerations, abrasions, or muscle damage
- Permanent disability stemming from amputation or severe back injury
- Internal bleeding or internal organ damage
- Soft tissue injury
If you or a loved one has suffered minor or catastrophic injuries following a bus accident, you need an experienced attorney to help you pursue compensation. The right bus accident lawyer will have an unmatched understanding of traffic laws and the complexities of bus accident litigation. Moreover, the expert should work on a contingency basis, meaning you will not have to spend a coin until you receive a settlement.
Damages You Can Recover Through a Bus Accident Claim
A bus accident can leave you with piling medical bills, immense physical pain, and emotional anguish. The law allows you to pursue compensation to help cushion you from economic losses caused by a collision. Moreover, a fair settlement should also compensate you for noneconomic losses.
The settlement you can obtain after a bus crash will depend on various aspects, including the allocation of fault, the extent of injury, the number of victims, and who manages/owns the common carrier. Nevada laws place caps on bus accident damage awards, and the settlement amount could be reduced if an accident causes mass injuries or fatalities.
For instance, the cap on damages per public bus accident is $100,000. The damage limit for private buses is $1,000,000 per accident. This means the type of entity that owns the ill-fated bus can substantially impact the amount of compensation you can recover.
When calculating the value of your injuries, the insurance company will first consider your economic damages. Economic damages provide cushioning from expenses and financial losses caused by a crash. For instance, you will incur ambulance, hospital, and transportation fees when seeking treatment for physical injuries. Depending on the nature and extent of injuries sustained, you could also need physiotherapy and psychotherapy.
Moreover, an accident can hinder you from working as usual to earn a living. Catastrophic injuries can even rob you of your future earning potential. It is imperative to have a competent lawyer that can take an all-rounded picture of your economic damages.
You can also receive compensation for the following monetary losses if you can provide the necessary supportive evidence:
- Property damage (if an accident damages your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)
- Loss of use of property
- Cost of repair or replacement
- Cost of domestic care services
- Loss of employment or business opportunities
Moreover, proper compensation must include noneconomic damages, also known as general damages. It is common for accident victims to suffer post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety following an incident. Nursing injuries also subject you to immense physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
Other noneconomic damages you can recover by filing a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement, scarring, or physical impairment
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of companionship
- Wrongful death
One of the main reasons to hire an attorney is that the expert can help calculate the actual value of all damages suffered. The value of the economic damages you suffer can play a significant role in dictating the amount of noneconomic damage you can obtain from a claim. Often, bus accident victims that seek legal representation end up in a more bearable financial situation than those that opt to self-represent.
Determining Liability in a Bus Crash
The most challenging step when filing a negligence lawsuit against a common carrier is determining who is at fault. Often, there are numerous entities or liable parties involved during bus accidents. The failure to identify the at-fault entity could lead to the loss of your case. Matters can get more challenging when bus investigators take over investigations and try to dodge or minimize the bus company's liability.
To win a negligence lawsuit, you must prove three crucial elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty
- You suffered injuries/ damages because of the breached duty of care
Often, it is easier to determine the at-fault party if the driver was intoxicated, sleepy, overspeeding, or violating traffic rules. Investigations can also help unveil other potential at-fault parties, including:
- The bus company
- Bus owner
- The bus driver's supervisor
- The bus maintenance company
- Bus or vehicle parts manufacturer
- Government entity
- Other negligent motorists or road users
How to Maximize Your Bus Accident Compensation
Common carrier laws give you the right to seek compensation following a bus accident. However, your actions following an accident can dictate the settlement you can obtain. It is necessary to take all the measures to protect your rights and preserve evidence showing your damages.
Here are the proper steps to take:
Remain At the Accident Scene
Your safety should be your top priority after a bus accident. Right after the crash, call 911 or ensure someone does so to alert the authorities. It is imperative to remain at the accident scene while waiting for emergency personnel. If you are well enough and the situation assures you of your safety, help others. Remain calm until help arrives.
If you are a motorist hit by a bus, you should exchange information with the bus operator and other involved motorists.
If your situation allows, gather information and evidence. Take detailed pictures of the accident scene, your visible injuries, and the involved vehicles. You should also exchange contact information with the bus driver and other accident victims. Once the police arrive, make sure you obtain the police report.
Seek Medical Attention
Some injuries are evident right after the accident. Others may take hours or days to reveal any signs and symptoms. You must seek medical attention before assuming you are okay. By seeking early medical intervention, you avoid the risk of an injury going from bad to worse. It is also necessary to follow the proposed treatment plan to the latter.
Keep Detailed Records
All accident-related documents must remain well-organized and safe. This includes medical bills, receipts, notes, and other documents that show the expenses you incur. Because every detail counts, scanning all crucial documents and saving them on your cell phone or computer is safer.
Filing a bus accident claim is a complex process, and you can expect a lot of opposition from the Common Carrier Company or insurance. Moreover, the bus company can try to dodge responsibility by shifting the blame to the bus manufacturer, auto servicing company, or parts manufacturer. Let your attorney fight for your best interests as you focus on regaining your health.
Do Not Panic
If you are in a tight financial position and need extensive medical care, it is common to panic and make the common blunder of accepting an offer from the bus company. Unfortunately, this will likely leave you holding the short end of the stick with a settlement that may not cover all your losses.
Before you speak to an insurance adjuster, seek legal advice and let a skilled lawyer evaluate the value of your damages. Insurance adjusters will not shy away from taking advantage of the situation when you are injured, vulnerable and desperate.
Moreover, settlement negotiations typically involve a lot of haggling. It is safer to let an experienced attorney represent you and give negotiations maximum chances of being successful. Your attorney will be ready to push the matter to the courtroom if you cannot benefit from a fair settlement through amicable talks.
How Can a Bus Accident Attorney Help Win Your Case?
Pursuing compensation after a bus accident is a complex process. Multiple entities could be liable for damages, including third-party drivers with personal cars. Here is how an experienced bus accident attorney can help you maximize your recovery:
Begin Investigation As Soon As Possible
Every detail of an accident counts if you want to win a personal injury case. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is imperative to allow swift investigations. The expert will locate witnesses, conduct interviews and collect sworn statements. Also, you can expect your attorney to work with other experts to create a file detailed with photos of the scene and an analysis that can help identify the at-fault parties.
Your lawyer can also aid in accident reconstruction. The scientific process of reconstructing an accident is often a crucial process during investigations and analysis. It helps to conclude the cause of an accident, ensuring that you can identify the negligent or liable party for your damages.
Locating All Defendants
As a regular citizen, locating the at-fault parties can be tedious and time-consuming. In bus accidents, the responsible parties can be bigwigs or non-obvious parties that are challenging to identify. Your lawyer can serve them, ensuring they appear at the negotiation tables or in court.
When the at-fault party is insured, a bus accident attorney can help file your claim and defend your best interests during negotiations. Insurance companies are challenging to tackle, and most hire the best lawyers to help dodge or reduce their liability. Your best bet is to have a seasoned attorney that can use the law to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.
Calculating the Value of Your Damages
Calculating the value of damages stemming from a bus accident is not as simple as considering your hospital bill. You must prove your economic damages by presenting receipts and bills. The total expenses incurred help calculate the noneconomic damages you deserve. Sometimes, it is necessary to bring a financial expert on board to ensure you do not receive a coin less than the actual value of your damages.
Building Your Case
Building a solid personal injury case is necessary to ensure maximum compensation. Your lawyer will piece up all the evidence and supportive documents to ensure you have the upper hand during negotiations or when you present your case in front of a jury.
Lawyers are skilled negotiators who can systematically table facts during negotiations to ensure you obtain justice. The professional will evaluate settlement offers from the insurance company and opt to move to court if none of the offers is worth accepting.
Moving to court as you nurse injuries and watch your medical bills mount can be daunting. However, having a skilled car accident attorney means you can focus on getting better as the specialist fights for a fair settlement. Your lawyer only wins when you win. Make sure you bank your hopes on a law firm with adequate resources to aid investigations and prepare a winning case.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Bus Accident Lawsuit
The statute of limitations dictates how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after a bus accident. Under Nevada laws, you have a two-year deadline for filing most vehicle accident injury lawsuits. If the statute of limitations expires, you lose your right to bring a case to court.
Find a Bus Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one through a bus accident, you have a right to pursue compensation. We strongly recommend against relying on a bus company's investigators or insurance adjusters to bring you justice. The primary duty of these experts is to protect their employer's bottom line. At the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, our priority is to protect your rights and ensure you recover maximum compensation. We are committed to ensuring your settlement has the best odds of covering your economic and noneconomic damages. Contact us at 702-576-0010 for personalized legal guidance from one of our experienced bus accident attorneys.