Bus Accident Lawsuit: Do I Have A Case?
If you were injured in a bus crash, then you will want to know if you have a case to file a bus accident lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a suit for No-Fault benefits and pain and suffering compensation. If you lost a loved one, then there may be a case for wrongful death damages.
Bus accident lawsuit for Michigan No-Fault auto insurance benefits
If the bus company or your auto insurance company is not paying for your No-Fault PIP benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses as they are supposed to, then you may be able to file a bus accident lawsuit to recover unpaid and overdue No-Fault benefits.
To initially make a claim for No-Fault benefits after your bus crash, 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 1 year after the accident.” (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
If the bus company or the auto insurance company denies your claim, refusing to pay your No-Fault benefits, then you must file your bus accident lawsuit for unpaid, overdue No-Fault insurance benefits within one year from the date that the unpaid, overdue medical bill, wage loss, medical mileage, replacement service or attendant service was incurred. (MCL 500.3145(2))
Bus accident lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation
You may be able to file a bus accident lawsuit against the bus company, driver, bus owner and/or any other at-fault drivers for pain and suffering compensation you suffered as a result of the crash. This type of case would also allow you to recover excess medical expenses and lost wages not covered by the policy that applies to your third party car insurance claim.
Damages for the following can be recovered in a pain and suffering claim:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Fright and shock
- Denial of social pleasure and enjoyments
- Embarrassment, humiliation or mortification
- Shame, mental pain and anxiety
To succeed with a claim for pain and suffering compensation, you must be able to show that you have suffered a “serious impairment of body function” or permanent, serious disfigurement.
Deadlines for filing a claim for pain and suffering include:
- If your bus accident lawsuit involves a Michigan regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc., you must comply with the BUS NOTICE PROVISION by serving WRITTEN notice of your 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.
- If your case involves 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)) If you fail to file your claim or notice within that time period, your claim will be forever barred.
- The statute of limitations for filing a bus accident lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation – as well as claims for excess medical expenses, excess lost wages and other economic loss – is three years after the date of the crash. (MCL 600.5805(2))
IMPORTANT: The BUS NOTICE PROVISION under Michigan law requires that before a bus accident lawsuit for crash-related injuries involving regional transportation authorities (such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc.) can be filed, the crash victim must 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 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.
If you have lost a loved one in a bus crash, a claim for wrongful death may be filed by your loved one’s estate to recover damages, medical and funeral expenses, compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering and damages for loss of the victim’s financial support, society and companionship. (MCL 600.2922(6))
The people who are entitled to recover in a claim under the wrongful death act include: (1) the deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters; (2) children of the deceased’s spouse; (3) “devisees” under the deceased’s will.
The wrongful death claim for a crash victim, which can only be brought by the personal representative of the victim’s estate, must be filed within the general three-year (3-year) statute of limitations for all personal injury claims. It is important to know that there are other requirements related to the wrongful death statute of limitations for filing a bus accident lawsuit.
Who can be sued in a bus accident lawsuit for pain and suffering or for wrongful death?
Depending on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your case, there are different parties that can be held responsible in your bus accident lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation and wrongful death damages, including:
- The bus driver: Bus drivers have a duty to their passengers and other people on the road to drive safelyIf the driver is negligent and does not keep the passengers safe, he or she can be liable.
- The bus company: The company that owns the bus can be responsible for the accident because it is the company’s job to make sure its employees are properly trained, that its buses are in good working order, and that its customers have safe experiences. If the entity that owned the bus failed to do anything that it was responsible for, then it can be held liable.
- The bus maintenance company or the bus/part manufacturer: If the bus company uses a maintenance service and that service was negligent in its maintenance or inspection, it can be held responsible. Similarly, if there was a defect in a part on the bus that caused the accident, the part manufacturer can be held liable.
- The government: If the bus involved in the crash was owned by the local or state government or regional transportation authority and the accident was caused by its negligence, then the government entity or regional transportation authority can be held responsible.
- Negligent driver of another vehicle: The crash may have been caused by a secondary vehicle on the road that was operated in a negligent way. The negligent driver may have been texting or speeding and can be responsible for his or her actions that caused the crash.
What is the compensation for a bus accident lawsuit?
The amount of compensation that may be recovered for a bus accident lawsuit will depend on several factors such as: (1) whether your injury resulted in an impairment that affects your ability to lead your normal life; (2) your medical needs; (3) your lawyer’s experience, track record and reputation; and (4) the liability insurance limits of the bus company and other at-fault drivers.
This is where your choice of a personal injury lawyer is particularly important. Auto insurance companies keep tabs on attorneys and they know who the attorneys are that go to trial and who the attorneys are who don’t. Most attorneys talk a good game but it has been years since they have tried a case and insurance companies use this to force settlements that do not reflect full value.
The bottom line is that attorneys who are known for going to trial can settle cases for significantly more money and often much faster.
To learn more about how much your loved one’s case may be worth, please check our “Settlement Calculator.”
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 us toll free anytime 24/7 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.