With nearly a million residents, Austin is bound to have its fair share of traffic. A significant part of the traffic system in Austin is city buses. Thousands of individuals ride the bus daily to work or home.
As a result, crashes involving buses are inevitable. If you’ve been a victim, you need a bus accident attorney in Austin who can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Responsibilities and Liability of Common Carriers in Texas
Texas law refers to buses used for business as “common carriers.” A common carrier’s main function is transporting people from one location to another. Bus operators and drivers are held to a high standard while carrying out their duty of care because common carriers transport people.
The greater obligations placed on bus drivers and bus firms are mirrored in their duties. These obligations differ from those found in the typical traffic legislation that most of us are used to.
Examples of these responsibilities include:
- Ensuring a safe separation between the bus and other vehicles
- Keeping the bus and its equipment properly
- Ensuring that passengers enter and exit the vehicle in safety
- Stopping before crossing railroads
- Utilizing appropriate evasive measures as necessary
Any accidents or injuries may be the fault of the bus driver if they are proven to have been caused by negligence. By implication, the bus business might likewise be held accountable for the reckless behavior of its drivers.
For a free legal consultation with a bus accidents lawyer serving Austin, call 800-863-5312
What to Do After an Austin Bus Accident
Bus accidents are not uncommon in Texas, and they can have serious consequences. In 2022, there were 18 total bus crashes with fatal injuries across the state — five in rural areas and 13 in urban areas – according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
An injury from or being involved in a bus accident can be a frightening and stressful experience. If you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation, knowing what steps to take following the event ahead of time can be extremely helpful.
Listed below are several critical steps that should be taken after a bus accident. Following these steps may promote a speedy recovery and strengthen your case.
Report the Accident
Reporting the incident to local law enforcement or the busing business is another crucial action after a bus-related mishap. You can gain from reporting the collision to the police and the bus company for several reasons.
For instance, a police officer dispatched to the accident scene will draft an official accident report, which could be used as proof and boost the strength of your claim against the responsible party. By letting the bus company know about the accident, the company will be more likely to take the necessary precautions to prevent further incidents of this nature.
Document the Accident
After the incident, take notes. This entails setting up and keeping a personal dossier in which you store each significant piece of information about the incident and your injuries. Examples of records and data that ought to be kept in the file include:
- Name, address, and phone number of the bus driver and bus business
- The bus’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number
- Any witnesses’ names and contact information
- The police report
- A duplicate of your medical bills and documents
- Images of the accident site, victims, and property damage
When determining the value of your claim and obtaining the compensation you are entitled to, having a detailed and structured file on the accident can be very beneficial.
Call an Austin Bus Accident Attorney
You should contact an Austin bus accident attorney. An attorney will listen to the facts of your case and provide valuable legal advice based on a statute or ordinance. An attorney can also fight for your claim.
Bus-related accidents can contain complex legal issues such as multi-party fault and contributory negligence. Contacting an Austin bus accident lawyer can be helpful to your case because the lawyer can provide legal advice to preserve or strengthen your claim.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bus accident, call Zinda Law Group today for a FREE case evaluation to learn more about how to seek compensation with the help of a personal injury lawyer in Austin.
Bus Accident in Austin lawyers near me 800-863-5312
Filing a Bus Accident Claim in Austin
You will likely need to file a bus accident claim to seek compensation for your injuries after the bus accident. Listed below are important components that comprise the claim filing process.
Investigating the Facts of Your Austin Bus Accident Claim
The investigation phase is a critical part of the claim filing process. This is because an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident can strengthen the credibility of your claim. Part of this phase involves your attorney gathering the facts of your case, such as where and how it occurred.
The attorney will then collect important evidence by interviewing witnesses, reviewing important documents, and developing the best legal strategy. This process also involves accounting for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Negotiating Your Case for an Acceptable Settlement
After completing the investigation, an insurance company will want to settle your claim. The case settlement process will consist of back-and-forth negotiations between you and the insurance company.
By hiring an Austin bus accident lawyer, you will have a legal advocate to fight for your rights and ensure the insurance company pays the full value of your claim.
Litigate in Court, If Necessary
Your claim may be prosecuted in court if a settlement cannot be reached during negotiation. In this scenario, your attorney will fight for you to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Texas Statute of Limitations for an Austin Bus Accident Lawsuit
A “statute of limitations” is a deadline law established for filing a lawsuit. A party that has been harmed or wronged is essentially prevented from contesting the claim in court if they fail to file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations. States have different statutes of limitations.
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas is two years. One of these claims is a personal injury resulting from a bus-related injury. According to this rule, a person hurt in a bus accident must bring a lawsuit within two years of the incident.
The statute of limitations is prolonged in cases involving minor children until the child reaches the majority age or is declared legally independent. After that, the youngster has two years to initiate a case.
Occasionally, the two-year statute of limitations may be “tolled” or suspended. You can file a lawsuit with additional time, thanks to tolling. The damage mentioned above to a young child is one example. Tolling a statute of limitations is an exception, not the rule, and this must be considered.
Understanding Austin’s Notice Requirement
In addition to this legal time limit, there is also a requirement that an injured party gives notice to a governmental agency if it intends to sue. This requirement acts as a statute of limitations within a statute of limitations.
Although it is true that you still have two years to file a lawsuit, you must submit this notice to file suit within the mandatory time frame, or else your claim will vanish. There is a 90-day window from the accident date to give proper notice in Austin.
Discussing the facts and details of your case with an attorney can help you better understand the statute of limitations and notice requirements, thereby ensuring that your claim is filed promptly.
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Determining Liability in an Austin Bus Accident
Accidents are not necessarily the result of a single event. There may be a liability for multiple people or organizations. Several common parties may be responsible for your accident and injuries in the case of bus accidents:
Bus Company or Bus Driver
In most cases, the bus driver or bus company is responsible for accidents involving buses. When drivers speed, run a red light, or use their phones while operating the bus, they may be held responsible. If it can be proven that the bus company hired, trained, or negligently oversaw the bus driver, it may also be held accountable.
Even if a bus driver drives flawlessly, accidents can still happen. This is because other road users occasionally exhibit poor driving habits. Another careless driver may be held accountable for your injuries if the accident happened while you were riding the bus.
A bus component maker may also be held accountable. These situations frequently occur when the manufacturer gives the bus company a faulty or damaged item. Before bringing any legal action, speaking with an accomplished personal injury lawyer is crucial because proving a manufacturer’s fault can be challenging.
Austin City Government
The local Austin government may be held accountable if the city (such as Capital Metro) runs the bus. In these circumstances, the bus is an extension of the local authority. So, if one of the city’s buses is involved in an accident, the government might be held responsible.
Common Austin Bus Accident Claims
Bus accidents and bus-related injuries occur in a variety of ways. Some of these claims involve single-vehicle accidents. Others involve collisions between two or more vehicles. Some accidents even involve pedestrians or bystanders. Listed below are several of the most common bus accident claims:
Crash with Another Car
One of the most common bus accident claims involves crashing into another vehicle. In these cases, passengers on the bus may sustain various injuries due to the collision. Fault for these accidents requires examining the conduct of the bus driver and the other vehicle’s driver.
Single Vehicle Crash
A single-vehicle crash is an accident that most commonly occurs when the driver loses control of the vehicle. For bus accidents, a single-vehicle crash may occur if the bus driver falls asleep at the wheel, engages in distracted driving, loses control of the bus, or experiences a mechanical malfunction. These accidents are likely to result in the onboard passengers sustaining injuries.
Pedestrian or Cyclist Struck by Bus
Pedestrians and cyclists are always at risk of being struck by automobiles, including buses. These accidents can occur in severe injuries such as broken bones, concussions, or even death.
Fall on a Bus
Another common bus-related accident occurs not when the bus is accelerating but rather when it is coming to a stop. Inexperienced bus passengers, particularly those standing, are susceptible to falling and hurting themselves when a bus driver hits the brakes. The injuries resulting from these accidents range from minor (e.g., small cuts and bruises) to severe (e.g., broken bones and concussions).
Common Injuries in Austin Bus Accidents
Bus-related accidents can result in various injuries ranging from minor to life-changing. Listed below are several common injuries that may result from a bus accident. Remember that the first step after an accident is to seek immediate medical attention.
Concussions and Head Injuries
Concussions are common during bus accidents. Many passengers on a bus do not wear a seatbelt. A collision or sudden stop can lead to a person shifting around inside the bus cabin. This shift may lead to someone hitting their head against another object inside the bus.
Cuts, Scarring, and Permanent Disfigurement
Many bus accidents result in one or more passengers sustaining a laceration, cut, bruise, or scar. In extreme cases, a collision may lead to a passenger being ejected from the bus, which may cause permanent disfigurement of the face or body.
Spinal Injuries and Paralysis
Bus-related accidents can also lead to severe spinal cord injuries. For example, a passenger without a seatbelt may be thrown from their seat and suffer a cracked vertebra. If a bus hits a pedestrian or cyclist, the victim may sustain temporary or permanent paralysis.
Unfortunately, a substantial number of bus-related accidents result in death. This is particularly so for accidents involving pedestrians or children.
What Compensation Can an Austin Bus Accident Lawyer Win?
If a bus accident victim can prove that another party was at fault for the accident that resulted in their injuries, they may be entitled to compensation for their losses.
In calculating the monetary damages that should be awarded to the victim of a bus-related accident, courts divide compensatory damages into two main components: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent costs that may be defined and given a numerical value. Economic damages in a bus accident case could include:
- Medical expenses: These may include present and future bills, pharmacy costs, or rehabilitation services.
- Lost income and wages: This includes earnings you’ve missed out on due to the accident and potential future earnings if your ability to work is affected.
- Property damage: These are repair costs and personal property damages in the collision.
Accidents resulting in severe injuries lead to greater awards of economic damages than relatively minor accidents. Economic damages are designed to “make whole” the victim following a traumatic event like a bus accident. They can extend far beyond immediate costs, reaching into every aspect of your life that has been financially impacted by the accident.
For example, if your injuries prevent you from working as you did before the accident, you could be entitled to compensation for loss of earning capacity. This accounts for the difference between what you would have earned throughout your lifetime if the accident had not occurred and what you’re likely to earn now.
Similarly, any required modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate disabilities resulting from the accident can be included as economic damages. For instance, if you need a wheelchair ramp or certain medical equipment installed in your home, those costs should be factored into your compensation.
Future Medical Needs
Some injuries require long-term care or routine medical procedures. You might also need psychological counseling to help you cope with the emotional toll of the accident. Projections of these costs should be included in your economic damages.
By thoroughly evaluating and presenting these aspects, Austin bus accident lawyers can help ensure you receive comprehensive compensation for the full scope of economic losses caused by accidents.
Non-economic damages are awarded to the victim to compensate for intangible losses that cannot be assigned a dollar value. A jury evaluates non-economic damages. Although these damages cannot be easily quantified, non-economic damages can be more valuable than economic damages.
Types of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Emotional distress
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Caps on Government Damages
We should note that the Texas Legislature passed legislation capping the damages a victim of government negligence can demand. According to the Texas Tort Claims Act, you can only file a lawsuit against a municipal government body like Cap Metro for up to $500,000 per occurrence and $250,000 per person.
Even though each bus is covered by $5 million in liability insurance, the law only allows for $250,000 per person. It’s possible to recover additional money from third parties if your damages exceed these caps, but the government will only pay you up to that amount.
Tell Zinda Law Group About Your Case
A bus accident is a traumatic event in anyone’s life, but it’s not the end of the story. An experienced Austin bus accident attorney is key to helping you get every dollar owed so you can start on the next chapter of your life. Don’t fight the battle alone – get a strong ally in your corner.
Our team is ready to fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. For more information on what to do after a bus accident and how to pursue compensation, call Zinda Law Group today.