Bus crashes are more common and dangerous than people generally assume. Due to their great size and rather slow speeds, it is easy to assume buses are a safer form of transport than the average motor vehicle, such as a sedan or a personal truck. The truth, though, is quite the opposite. Most buses are over-crowded with passengers, lack any sort of safety restraints or airbags, and their massive size leaves them an easy target for reckless or inattentive drivers. A bus crash is a serious calamity and should never be taken lightly.
If you are involved in a bus crash, a number of factors will determine exactly how much compensation you may eventually receive. Learning whether the bus is owned and operated by a public or private entity is often the first clue in assessing the size of a potential settlement. Public transit buses are often owned by the city in which they operate and could be protected by sovereign immunity laws and settlement caps.
Private ownership of a bus, however, would follow the usual legal strictures and procedures involved in normal personal injury and negligence lawsuits. A driver of a private bus is not protected by public sovereignty laws and if found to be at fault, could be liable along with the company for any injuries and damages which may have occurred.
Knowing whether a bus is publicly or privately owned and operated could not only affect the size of your settlement, it might determine who exactly is the guilty party.
According to Cornell Law School, sovereign immunity is “the idea that the sovereign or government is immune from lawsuits or other legal actions except when it consents to them.” In short, this means local and federal governments can exercise the right to dismiss a lawsuit based upon their legal immunity. Just because they can exercise this immunity, however, doesn’t necessarily mean they will. In fact, governments rarely, if ever, use sovereign immunity to dismiss lawsuits they do not agree with.
What sovereign immunity does allow is a stricter set of procedural requirements for any lawsuits filed against governing parties. These requirements make it much more difficult to sue the government, say, if you are involved in a crash on a public bus. Hiring a lawyer with knowledge and experience regarding these procedural requirements could mean the difference between receiving full compensation for your injuries and loss, and going home empty-handed.
Most every type of lawsuit is subject to various statutes and limitations, and bus crashes are no exception. A statute of limitations (SOL) is basically a deadline to begin a lawsuit. Every state jurisdiction has its own statute of limitations on when a lawsuit can be executed. Knowing how long you have after a bus crash to file a lawsuit is one of the most important first legal steps to perform after suffering a bus crash. Fail to file before the statute of limitation and your right to sue could be permanently lost.
Another important step in the lawsuit process is the notice of claim. Simply put, a notice of claim is a notification that you intend to sue an entity, such as a city transit authority or another person. If you do not file a notice of claim within the allowed time frame, your ability to sue could be waived. Unlike the statute of limitations, which is typically two years or more, the period of time to file a notice of claim is much shorter, often just a month or two following the bus crash.
The laws in each jurisdiction regarding statutes of limitation and notice of claims can be arcane and complicated. Obtaining a qualified lawyer with years of experience is likely the best decision you can make after being injured in a bus crash. If you’ve been involved in a bus crash call The Advocates to get a free assessment of your case and begin on the road to recovery. The Advocates have decades of experience and will not stop until your life has been made whole again. Don’t hesitate to call us today.
References: “Sovereign Immunity,” Cornell Law School, June. 2017. Web <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/sovereign_immunity>.