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School Bus Accident

Car Accident With School Bus: What You Need To Know

If you have been injured in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan, the three potential types of cases that you may have are for No-Fault benefits to cover your medical bills and lost wages if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, for pain and suffering compensation and for a mini tort recovery to pay for vehicle damages.

No-Fault benefits after a car accident with school bus in Michigan

To make a claim for No-Fault benefits after you were injured in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the auto insurance company that has the highest priority to pay you your benefits. If the claim is denied, then you can hire an attorney to file a first-party lawsuit in court for unpaid No-Fault insurance benefits.

Here is what you need to know about auto insurance benefits after a car accident with a school bus in Michigan:

  • No-Fault PIP benefits will pay for your crash-related medical expenses, lost wages if your injuries have disabled you from working, household replacement services, attendant care benefits and reimbursement for mileage and transportation costs associated with traveling to and from your medical appointments.
  • You must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called your “written notice of injury” – with the responsible car insurance company within one (1) year after the bus accident. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4)) If you fail to file your application on time – within ONE YEAR from the date of your automobile crash – then you will forever lose any benefits to which you might be entitled.
  • If the auto insurance company refuses to pay your No-Fault benefits, then your claim for unpaid, overdue No-Fault benefits must be reported against the insurance company within one year from the date that the medical bill, wage loss, medical mileage, replacement service or attendant service was incurred. (MCL 500.3145(2)) If such a claim is not filed within the one-year time period, then the bill will be time-barred and you will lose all rights to payment and/or reimbursement for the overdue benefits.

The No-Fault law’s “priority rules” determine what auto insurance company is responsible for paying your No-Fault benefits after a car accident with school bus in Michigan:

  • If you are the driver of the car that was involved in the crash, then you will seek No-Fault benefits through your own auto insurance company. (MCL 500.3114(1))
  • If you are the occupant of the car that was involved in the crash, then you will seek No-Fault benefits through your own auto insurance company or that of your spouse or a relative who lives in your home or through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, if no coverage is available through those other sources. (MCL 500.3114(1) and (4))
  • If you are the driver of the school bus that was involved in the crash, then you will seek No-Fault benefits from the insurer of the bus. (MCL 500.3114(2))
  • If you are a passenger on the who was injured in the car accident with a school bus in Michigan, then you will seek No-Fault benefits from the insurer of the bus only if you have no No-Fault coverage “under any other policy.” (MCL 500.3114(2)(a))
  • If you are a pedestrian who was injured in the crash, then you will seek No-Fault benefits through your own auto insurance policy or through the policy of your spouse or a relative living in your home or from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1); 500.3115)
  • If you are a bicyclist who was injured in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan, then you will seek No-Fault benefits through your own auto insurance policy or through the policy of your spouse or a relative living in your home or from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1); 500.3115)

Pain and suffering compensation after a car accident with school bus in Michigan

If you were injured in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan, you may be able to file a pain and suffering compensation claim against the at-fault driver who caused the accident as well as the owner of the vehicle being driven by the at-fault driver. 

You may also be able to recover excess medical expenses and lost wages not covered by the No-Fault auto insurance policy that applies to your claim.

Who could be sued?

  • If the crash was caused by the driver of the car, then a victim’s claim for pain and suffering compensation could be brought against the at-fault driver of the car as well as the car’s owner if he or she was not also the driver.
  • If the crash was caused by the bus driver, then a claim for pain and suffering compensation may be able to be brought against the at-fault school bus driver and/or the bus’s owner under the governmental employee exception and/or the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity. (MCL 691.1405; 691.1407) 

To succeed with a pain and suffering compensation claim in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan, you must be able to show that you have suffered a “serious impairment of body function” or permanent, serious disfigurement.

Although school buses are usually owned and operated by local, municipal governmental entities, it is important to be aware of certain filing deadlines that apply generally in bus crash cases: 

  • If a bus crash involves a regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc., you must comply with the BUS NOTICE PROVISION by serving 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 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 a bus crash 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))
  • The statute of limitations for filing a pain and suffering compensation claim – as well as claims for excess medical expenses, excess lost wages and other economic loss – is three years after the date of the bus crash. (MCL 600.5805(2))

IMPORTANT: The BUS NOTICE PROVISION under Michigan law requires that before a lawsuit for crash-related injuries involving regional transportation authorities (such as DDOT, SMART, CATA, etc.) can be filed, the bus 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.

Mini tort claim for vehicle damage after a car accident with school bus in Michigan

If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan and the bus was at-fault, then you may be able file a mini tort claim against the at-fault bus driver and/or the bus’s owner under the governmental employee exception and/or the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity. (MCL 691.1405; 691.1407) 

Here is what you need to know:

  • If the owner of the school bus refuses to pay your mini tort claim, you will have to file a lawsuit in small claims court.
  • To succeed with collecting after you file a mini tort claim, you will need to show the bus driver was at-fault in causing the car accident with a school bus in Michigan, that your vehicle damages were not covered by insurance, the cost of your vehicle damage repairs (although the mini tort maximum recovery amount is $3,000)

It is important to talk with an experienced lawyer after a car accident with a school bus in Michigan before you sign any mini tort release from the bus owner or bus’s insurer because these releases often contain language releasing the bus’s owner from liability for all claims arising out of the crash – not just for the vehicle damage to your vehicle.

Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law

If you have been injured in a car accident with a school bus in Michigan and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, call us toll free anytime for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.