Bus Accident Claims: What You Need To Know
Here our attorneys list your possible lawsuits after a serious bus crash in Michigan: No-Fault benefits, pain and suffering, and wrongful death
If you were injured in a bus crash, there are several potential bus accident claims you can make with the help of an experienced attorney, including those for your No-Fault benefits, pain and suffering, and a wrongful death.
Alert! Time limits for filing bus accident claims
These three bus accident claims all have different time limits (discussed below) that you must abide by or you will lose your rights to the lawsuit.
But above all, remember the BUS NOTICE PROVISION requires crash victims in wrecks with regional transportation authorities (such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc.) who want to sue the bus company for their crash-related injuries to first give and serve WRITTEN notice of their claim to the company within 60 days of the crash. This means you have 60 days from the date of the crash to file your bus accident claim with a regional transportation authority. If notice is not properly served upon the bus company, it will not have to defend itself against your claim.
Below is more information about your potential claims.
Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits (first-party bus accident claim)
You may be entitled to certain No-Fault PIP benefits, usually provided by your own insurance company or the next insurance company pursuant to the order of priorities. This is also called a first-party (or PIP) claim. The No-Fault benefits you may be entitled to include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, replacement services (help with children and around the house), mileage and transportation costs for traveling to and from medical appointments and attendant care. Here is more information about how the Michigan No-Fault law comes into play after a serious bus crash.
Pain and suffering (third-party bus accident claim)
You may have a third party bus accident claim for pain and suffering compensation, excess medical expenses and excess lost wages, and other economic damages, if you were seriously injured in a crash. This is also called a third-party claim. With this type of claim, an accident victim collects monetary damages from the insurance company of the person who caused the crash. Here, it would likely be the bus company.
The elements of a pain and suffering lawsuit in Michigan are as follows:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Fright and shock
- Denial of social pleasure and enjoyments
- Embarrassment, humiliation or mortification
To succeed with a third-party lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation in Michigan, the accident victim must meet the “serious impairment of body function” or permanent, serious disfigurement threshold. This means that even though accident victims may be in pain every day and the accident was not their fault, their injuries may not be serious enough to succeed in a pain and suffering lawsuit.
The “serious impairment” threshold is something that Michigan Auto Law attorneys understand and prove every single day. We know how to show that a crash victim’s injuries have resulted in an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that has affected the crash victim’s “general ability to lead his or her normal life.” (See MCL 500.3135(5)(c)) This means examining every aspect of a victim’s life, such as work, recreational activities, and hobbies. Keep in mind, many other inexperienced or general practitioner attorneys do not understand how to differentiate between pain and impairment — and that is often a cost that the accident victim client has to endure when he or she is unable to reach a fair verdict or settlement.
If one of your family members was killed in a bus crash, you may be able to file a wrongful death bus accident claim against the at-fault driver or drivers who caused the crash. Specifically, to sustain a wrongful death lawsuit under Michigan law, you must prove:
- The other driver was at-fault for the accident that killed your loved one
- The other driver acted negligently in causing the bus crash
- Your deceased loved one is survived by beneficiaries or dependents
- The death has produced monetary damages
Typically, the types of damages that are sought with a wrongful death claim are for pain and suffering compensation, loss of financial support (to replace the income that the deceased crash victim would have contributed to the family) and loss of society and companionship.
Under Michigan law, the person that can make a wrongful death claim is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The estate obtains a personal representative through a process in probate court. The people that may be entitled to damages pursuant to a wrongful death claim are as follows:
- The decedent’s spouse
- The decedent’s children
- The decedent’s descendants
- The decedent’s parents
- The decedent’s grandparents
- The decedent’s siblings
- The “persons to whom the estate of the deceased would pass under the laws of intestate succession determined as of the date of death of the deceased.”
- The children of the decedent’s spouse
- People named on the will of the deceased
- The people designated as being entitled to pain and suffering damages
- The “beneficiaries of a living trust of the deceased if there is a devise to that trust in the will of the deceased”
Since Michigan has a different No-Fault law than other states, a wrongful death bus accident claim under Michigan law is different than it would be in other states. Therefore, understanding that you may have a claim and getting proper representation is key to protecting your rights.
How to make a bus accident claim after a crash
The requirements for making a bus accident claim after a crash will depend on what type of claim or claims you are making. For instance, a claim for No-Fault benefits requires the filing of an application. And a claim for pain and suffering compensation is subject to both the Bus Notice Provision and the statute of limitations.
Below are more details about making a claim after a crash:
- Application for No-Fault benefits – To recover No-Fault benefits after you have been injured in this type of automobile crash in Michigan, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called your “written notice of injury” – with the responsible auto insurance company or regional transportation authority within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
- Bus Notice Provision – If you have been injured in a bus crash in Michigan involving a regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc., you must serve WRITTEN notice of your bus accident claim on the transportation authority within 60 days of the crash that caused your injuries in order to preserve your right to sue for pain and suffering compensation, “excess” No-Fault medical and wage loss benefits and possibly other economic damages. (MCL 124.419) If your bus accident claim notice is not properly served upon the bus company, then you will lose your right to sue and the bus company/regional transportation authority will not have to defend itself against your claim.
- Notice for personal claims against the state – If you have been injured in a crash involving a bus that is owned by the State of Michigan – such as a transit bus owned by a state university (which are departments of the state) or a non-urbanized public (state) transit agency – you have 6 months after the crash to file with the Court of Claims your personal injury claim against the state or your notice of intent to file a personal injury claim against the state. (MCL 600.6431(1-3))
- Statute of limitations for third-party bus accident claims – Like many other claims, your ability to pursue a third-party bus case has a statute of limitations. This means that there is a limited time to pursue your claim. In Michigan, the statute of limitations for pursuing a third-party bodily injury/pain and suffering bus accident claim following a crash is three years.
- Wrongful death statute of limitations – Just like other facets of law, there is a certain time period during which a wrongful death claim must be filed. The statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death claims is the same 3-year period that applies to all personal injury claims. However, there are other requirements relating to the wrongful death statute of limitations that you should talk with your lawyer about.
Talk to an experienced lawyer
An experienced lawyer who focuses on these types of bus crashes and who has extensive experience litigating cases for people who have been injured in these types of automobile crashes can get you the help you need, including benefits to pay for medical bills and lost wages and a settlement that reflects the full value of your injuries.
Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you have been injured in a bus crash and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.