Bus Accident: What To Do After Being In One
Here is what to do after you have been injured in a Michigan bus accident: (1) Contact the police; (2) seek medical attention immediately; (3) report all of your injuries; (4) comply with time limits for filing a claim for benefits and compensation; and (5) talk to an experienced attorney.
It is also crucial that you never give “statements” to or sign settlements, releases or waivers presented to you by anyone after a crash unless and until you have first talked with an experienced attorney who is looking out for you and your interests.
Contact the police and file a police report
If you are injured in a bus accident, the police should be contacted and a police report should be filed. You must make sure to give all available information to the police regarding how the crash occurred, including what the at-fault driver or drivers did to cause the crash. It is essential that your side of the story be told and that the at-fault driver’s or drivers’ versions are not the only ones that the police hear.
If you are unable to provide this information due to your injuries and/or because you are being administered emergency medical care, then ask someone to relate your version of the crash to the police.
It is important to get a copy of the police report for the crash. It will allow you to verify the information that you received at the scene of the crash. Plus, it will allow you to verify that your account of how the bus accident happened was accurately recorded in the report – and to make sure that the at-fault driver’s or drivers’ accounts do not falsely shift blame onto you or anyone else.
Seek medical attention immediately
It is essential that you seek medical attention immediately after you have been injured in a bus accident. This is true even if your injuries seem “only minor” because injuries that may initially appear “insignificant” can later cause extreme pain and become both debilitating and disabling. These are called delayed injuries. Not only is immediate medical attention vital to ensuring that you receive proper and prompt medical care and treatment, but it is essential to proving that your injuries were caused by the crash and not some other event.
Report all of your injuries to first responders and ER personnel
It is essential that you report all of your injuries – no matter how “minor” or “insignificant” they may seem to you – to the first responders (i.e., police, firefighters, EMTs and ambulance personnel) and the doctors, nurses and medical staff at the hospital’s emergency room. Making sure that all of your injuries are documented in your medical records is important both for ensuring that you receive the necessary medical care and for protecting your legal rights.
Injuries, conditions and symptoms you should report include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Blurred vision
- Loss of memory (both long- and short-term)
- Inability to concentrate
- Emotional changes
Common injuries that can result from a bus accident include:
- Closed head or traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Back and neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Burn injuries, and
- Amputation injury
Document the bus accident facts
It is key that you document everything that you are experiencing and what you are doing to deal with the injuries that have resulted from the bus crash. This means documenting things such:
- All doctor’s visits, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, lab services, physical therapy, hospital visits, treatments, medical documents and x-rays
- The date each service was provided and the amount you were charged
- Keep a diary of your day-to-day pain, discomfort, emotional distress, fatigue, tenderness, inconvenience, etc.
- How your injuries have impacted your daily life and relationships.
- Take photos of all your injuries, as soon after the accident as possible
- Keep copies of all medical bills, medical records, and other documents. Since your health is the most important thing, keeping up on appointments and documentation after a bus accident is crucial
Attend all medical appointments
Since your health is the most important thing and you want to maximize your chances for the best possible recovery from your injuries, it is imperative that you attend all of your medical appointments and that you continue treatment for as long as your doctors are prescribing it. Insurance adjusters often contend that a bus accident victim who fails to attend his or her doctor’s appointment must not be experiencing pain.
Know your time limits to file a claim – 60 days for regional transportation authorities
If you have been injured in a bus accident involving a regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc., and you want to sue for pain and suffering compensation, “excess” No-Fault medical and wage loss benefits and possibly other economic damages, you must serve WRITTEN notice of your claim on the transportation authority within 60 days of the crash that caused your injuries.
This means you have 60 days from the date of the bus accident to file your claim with a regional transportation authority.
This is what’s known as the Bus Notice Provision. It specifically provides that “written notice of any claim based upon injury to persons” that “may arise in connection with the transportation authority” “shall be served upon the authority no later than 60 days from the occurrence through which such injury is sustained . . .” (MCL 124.419)
Failure to file a written bus notice and/or failure to timely file the bus notice within 60 days of the crash that caused your injuries means that you will lose your right to sue and the regional transportation authority will not have to defend itself against your claim.
The Bus Accident Notice provision makes it so important for crash victims to make sure they know and understand their rights, because if too much time goes by, a victim may unknowingly waive his or her rights and be unable to file a claim. The notice provision is the single most important part of a bus case.
In its ruling in Atkins v. Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), #140401, August 20, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the 60-day bus notice provision in MCL 124.419 does not apply to claims for No-Fault benefits and, thus, a bus accident victim’s application for No-Fault benefits “does not satisfy the statutory requirement to provide the transportation authority notice of a plaintiff’s intent to pursue a third-party tort claim.” The Atkins court also held that a common carrier’s or regional transportation authority’s “presumed institutional knowledge of an injury or occurrence” did not “relieve [a bus accident victim] of the obligation to give the formal notice required by the statute.”
It is important to note that you have three years from the date of the bus accident to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation, “excess” No-Fault medical and wage loss benefits and possibly other economic damages.
Know your time limits to file an application for No-Fault benefits – Within 1 year after the bus accident
In order to recover No-Fault benefits – which cover medical bills and lost wages – after you have been injured in a bus accident involving a regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc., you will need to file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company or regional transportation authority within one (1) year of the crash. The No-Fault law’s priority rules will determine who is obligated to pay for your No-Fault benefits.
It is important to remember that your application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called your “written notice of injury” – must be filed “within 1 year after the accident.” (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4)) Filing the application for benefits form is extremely important – and essential for protecting your No-Fault rights.
Never give statements to an insurance adjuster or sign a release
Unless and until you have talked with an experienced attorney who is looking out for you and your interests, never give “statements” to or sign any settlements, releases or waivers that are presented to you by your auto insurance company, the bus company, the auto insurer for any of the at-fault drivers, insurance adjusters and/or defense attorneys.
If you were driving another vehicle that was involved in the crash, it is also important you do not allow an insurance adjuster to look at the damage without your attorney present.
Claims adjusters often try to get recorded statements from crash victims early in the process – before they have had time and opportunity to get proper and necessary medical care and, thus, before they have a full understanding and appreciation of the extent and severity of their injuries.
Accident victims are often under the false impression that the insurance company is on their side, and then down the road, they find out that something they innocently said or did greatly jeopardized their automobile crash claims. This is because it is an adjuster’s job to minimize your claim and to get it resolved immediately, so the bus company has to pay as little as possible for your injuries and pain and suffering.
Giving them signed authorizations, or a statement, or a chance to assess your vehicle, may in the long run hurt your claim.
The danger with settlements, releases and waivers is that they all too frequently contain unrelated language whose purpose and effect is to cause the bus accident victim to unknowingly forfeit all of his or her legal rights to the compensation and benefits that he or she is entitled to under the law.
One of the best ways to ensure your rights are protected is to speak with an experienced attorney before you agree to sign or speak to an insurance adjuster.
Talk to an attorney
A bus accident lawyer who focuses on bus crashes and who has extensive experience litigating cases for people who have been injured in these types of 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 accident 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.