Recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show there were more than 144 fatalities from bus-related accidents in 2022. More than 8000 people also sustained injuries. Unlike typical car crashes, bus accidents are dangerous and involve more people. They are also more complicated to solve than average motor vehicle accidents.
Being a bus victim is overwhelming and confusing, whether you are a passenger, motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian. With many parties involved, you can’t know how to protect your health and legal rights after the incident. Minnesota accident victims have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit but six years to file a claim for property damage. That does not mean your case must be resolved within those two years; you merely have two years to file the required paperwork with the court. If you happen to be a resident of Minneapolis and have sustained injuries in a bus accident, you should hire a bus accident lawyer in Minneapolis after seeking the necessary medical attention. Below are essential things to do after a bus accident.
1. Call 911 and stay at the accident scene
Like other accidents, you should prioritize your safety after a bus accident. Therefore, start by reporting the accident to the relevant officials and emergency personnel. This is especially important if some victims are seriously injured, or the accident scene blocks traffic. While bus drivers should report the accident to authorities, don’t assume they will.
If you are not injured and reasonably safe, stay at the scene and offer your help. However, you should watch out for your safety. For instance, don’t stay on the bus if there’s smoke, flames, or leaking liquids. If you were a driver and your vehicle got involved in an accident with the bus, ensure that you exchange information with the driver and other involved parties.
2. Gather evidence
You should do several things after the incident to protect your claim. For instance, gathering first-hand evidence is crucial if you didn’t suffer serious injuries. Start by taking pictures of the accident scene and witness contacts. You should also get the name and contact information of the bus driver and other parties involved.
You should seek medical care from the accident scene, even if you didn’t suffer visible injuries. Bus passengers seated far from the impact can suffer whiplash or soft tissue injuries, which aren’t visible immediately after the accident, unlike broken bones. While it can take hours, days, or weeks for your injuries to become apparent, seeking early medical attention prevents them from worsening.
Besides, medical records document your injuries and can be used to prove your claim. It may take months before bus accident cases are resolved. However, you should preserve all records perfectly; you’ll need this evidence to defend your case. Other essential things to preserve include medical bills, receipts, and other documents related to the accident.
3. Contact a personal injury lawyer
Unfortunately, not all bus accident cases are straightforward. For starters, you can’t be sure who to sue for damages and injuries. Victims of bus accidents can hold several parties liable for their injuries and damaged properties. You can file a claim against the bus driver, third-party driver, or the government.
That aside, you should expect serious opposition from the bus and responsible insurance companies. You might also miss compensation from other parties that should be liable for the accident, such as the manufacturer. Therefore, you should work with an accident attorney to determine the liable party.
Your bus accident attorney will:
- Handle communication between you and the insurance company, the police, the bus company, and other involved parties.
- Investigate the primary cause of the accident and the parties that should be held liable.
- Determine the value of your claim by combining your current and future medical costs, property damage, lost income, and emotional trauma.
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company
- Initiate a personal injury case if you don’t come to an agreement with the insurance company and other liable parties.
- Ensures the case is filed before the deadline, depending on your state’s statute of limitations.
Your car accident attorney will handle all the moving parts of the case as you focus on healing.
The Bottom Line
Knowing what to do immediately after a bus accident is essential, as it can undermine your claim. Most accident victims unknowingly negate their personal injury claims by ignoring critical things. For instance, not keeping medical records, not seeking professional legal advice, and accepting a settlement from the insurance company, can devalue your claim.