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Seattle Bus Accident Lawyer
Buses are considered fairly safe modes of transportation. Compared to cars and motorcycles, there aren’t as many crashes per year for buses. When bus crashes do occur, however, the results can be devastating. Buses rarely have safety restraints and other features to protect passengers. If you’ve been injured in a bus wreck, you may be wondering if you have options for legal recourse and against whom. Call a Seattle bus accident lawyer today to discuss your case.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common factors at play in bus wrecks and how the state determines who’s at fault. Bus injuries run the gamut from simple whiplash to catastrophic and permanently disabling conditions. There are also certain issues unique to bus incidents – for example, they are more prone to rollover than any other vehicle. Because there are no airbags to protect riders in a collision, passengers are more prone to serious injuries. While the risk of a bus accident might be lower, the chances of incurring serious injuries are higher.
Contact Our Expert Bus Accident Attorneys Today
If you’ve been injured in a bus wreck or by another public entity, call Colburn Law as soon as possible. We have handled hundreds of personal injury cases in our years of practicing law, and we have only two defeats. In other words, we know what it takes to successfully negotiate and settle your personal injury claim.
You don’t have to suffer alone. Let us help you hold the guilty parties accountable for their actions. If you feel you’re running out of options, contact us for a confidential and strategic review of your legal options. Schedule your case evaluation today by clicking the image below.
Common Carrier Laws in Washington State
First, it’s important to note that anyone who drives a bus is subject to common carrier law, which means entities that carry many people – common carriers – are held to a higher standard of care than the general public. In fact, common carriers are required to exercise “utmost care” when operating a vehicle. Here are some common factors at play in a bus wreck:
- Driver fatigue
- Inadequate training or employment screening
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Overloading or improper loading
- Failure to maintain equipment
Since the standard of care for common carriers is higher, it’s generally easier to prove they violated the care standard. However, litigating bus wreck cases can also be difficult because the government often owns common carriers. Civil litigation becomes much more complex when the defendant is a government agency.
Special Considerations for Government Entities
If you were injured by public transportation, your claim will likely be against a public entity. Unfortunately, filing a personal injury claim against the government is much harder. It has stricter filing deadlines and a shorter statute of limitations – in some cases, these can be as short as 30 days. That’s why it’s important to retain the services of a Seattle bus wreck attorney as soon as possible.
The specific procedures that apply to claims against the government vary not only by state, but by municipality. However, each notice says at least these three things:
- Who the claim is against (the officer, employees, agent, or entity itself)
- The time, place, and circumstances that gave rise to the claim
- Your personal information
With this information, you must submit unique forms and you have a limited amount of time to do so. If you miss a filing deadline or don’t submit the exact paperwork, you risk having your claim thrown out.
Not all bus carriers in the state are run by the government, and we can help you find fair compensation whether the bus collision that affected you was run by a public or private company.
Who Is Liable in a Bus Accident?
Bus accidents can pose significantly more danger to those involved than typical passenger car accidents. The magnitude of these accidents can be intimidating both in the moment and when pursuing a personal injury claim. Accidents involving buses are different from other accidents because the way you must file a claim changes depending on who owns the bus and what caused the incident.
The responsible party in a bus accident is not always the bus driver. Depending on the actual cause of the accident, the liable party can be one of several entities:
- Bus driver – The bus driver is liable if their actions are the direct cause of an accident. This includes factors like driving under the influence and distracted driving.
- Contractors and/or maintenance company – Bus contractors and maintenance teams could be at fault evidence reveals that improper bus servicing caused the accident. For example, if a third-party service neglects to change the tires on a bus with no more tread on their wheels, this could easily cause tire blowouts or skidding while braking.
- Bus manufacturer – Sometimes, the components of a bus unexpectedly malfunction and cause accidents. In these cases, the bus and/or parts manufacturer could be at fault.
- Other drivers – Other drivers can cause accidents through a chain reaction. For instance, if a passenger car cuts off a bus, they might brake to stop, causing a rear-end collision.
Regardless of who the liable party is, they all share one commonality: negligence. Negligence law is at the heart of personal injury lawsuits, as each case deals with proving how the responsible party neglected their duty to act in a responsible, safe manner.
What is Seattle’s Comparative Negligence Law?
Seattle operates under comparative negligence law. This means that the court system looks at a case and determines the percentage of fault that each party assumes in a vehicle-related accident. In personal injury lawsuits, comparative negligence still applies. However, the claimant is still capable of receiving compensation. The court removes the claimant’s assigned percentage of negligence, multiplied by their total compensation amount, from the total award.
Why Do I Need a Bus Accident Lawyer?
Lawyers are essential in several aspects of a personal injury claim. They not only help you fill out all documentation, but will help interview witnesses, gather evidence, and settle in and out of court depending on your case’s specific context. When providing evidence for a personal injury claim based in negligence, you need to prove several factors:
- The defendant (responsible party) owed the claimant a duty or responsibility. In bus accidents, this could be to provide safe transport and/or bus maintenance to prevent accidents.
- The defendant breached this duty to act responsibly or provide safe conditions.
- This breached duty is a direct cause of the claimant’s accident.
- The claimant’s accident caused the verifiable injury.
What Compensation is Available in a Bus Accident Claim?
You can file a personal injury claim for several types of damages. A Seattle bus accident lawyer will help you determine which damages you qualify for:
- Immediate medical bills
- Recurring medical bills (physical therapy, medication, etc.)
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Court fees
- Vehicle repair
Is There a Statute of Limitations in a Bus Accident Case?
Yes, three years. Each state exercises a statute of limitations. This dictates how much time a claimant has to file a personal injury claim. Seattle’s statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident.
The process is different when suing a government-owned entity – prior to commencing litigation against a governmental entity (State, County, City), the claimant must properly serve a Notice of Claim upon the entity. The claimant must then wait at least sixty (60) days after serving the Notice of Claim prior to commencing litigation against the entity. The government does not have the “power to dismiss your claim”. However, if the Notice of Claim is not properly completed and served, this will result in a claim dismissal by the courts.
Bus accidents are a bit more nuanced than typical car accidents because of the additional factors that impact the filing process. Hiring a lawyer will remove a lot of the guesswork out of the claims process, allowing you to recover without the added stress of working on your case alone.