Maryland Bus Accidents That Have Nothing to Do With Crashes
There may not be much you can predict about traffic in Baltimore, but the one guarantee is that you will encounter buses as a Maryland road user. You might be driving, an occupant in a vehicle, or a pedestrian or bicycle rider. According to local data, there is a good chance that you are a passenger: Nearly half the population of Baltimore lacks access to a car, so many rely on buses operated by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). The total annual ridership on the system’s 80 bus lines is more than 75 million and averages almost 250,000 per weekday. More than 67% of those that use the MTA take the bus, making this form of transportation more popular than light rail, the MARC Train, and Metro Subway. Plus, there are many other buses you could encounter or utilize, including school and long-distance bus transportation.
When you think about horrific bus accidents, your thoughts probably turn to crashes involving the bus and an automobile. Unfortunately, the risk of harm is not always traffic-related.
Consider for example the following;
- Negligent security at bus terminals attracts criminal activity, possibly leading to assault against a passenger. Hazards could easily be avoided through installation of cameras, hiring security guards, and ensuring proper lighting.
- Dangerous conditions at stations and stops can lead to slip and fall injuries. Victims often suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injuries.
- Defective bus doors and gates can cause crushing injuries when a passenger is getting on or off the bus. Broken bones, lacerations, and severe bruising are common.
- Failure to use proper care when stopping for passengers can lead to serious accidents if the individual steps off into oncoming traffic or other hazards. This is especially true of school buses transporting children.
These incidents are usually preventable and only happen because of negligence. To establish your right to compensation, you must prove that the bus operator or company caused the injury by failing to exercise reasonable care.
Three Stages to the Legal Process
Every case is different, but a bus accident case involving a traffic crash or any other type of personal injury typically proceeds according to three stages. They include:
- Filing a Claim: The details will vary based upon the nature of the entity operating the bus, since you could be pursuing a public agency OR a private company. However, in both scenarios, you will file an injury claim to seek compensation. You must complete all necessary forms and provide solid, credible evidence of your injuries AND fault on behalf of the bus driver and/or operator. Many bus accident claims settle out of court at this stage.
- Mediation or Negotiation: You can opt to participate in mediation if you are unable to settle your claim, and this process often results in agreement even when you thought it would be impossible. During the proceeding, the parties sit down with their respective attorneys and a mediator. The mediation professional is specially trained to encourage productive conversation, which can be effective in reaching compromise. Alternative to mediation, your attorney may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the entity responsible for causing your injury.
- Litigation: If you cannot resolve your bus accident claim through other means, you will need to take your case to court to get fair compensation. Litigation starts by filing a complaint, and there may be numerous motions and court appearances involved. The parties will also engage in discovery, including depositions. Your case may eventually make it to a trial on the merits before a jury.
Limitations in Maryland Bus Accident Claims
One of the first restrictions to bear in mind through the legal process is the statute of limitations. In Maryland, you have three years to file a lawsuit in court. The clock starts to run on the date of the bus accident, and it does not pause while you go through settlement discussions or mediation. If you do not initiate litigation by the time the statute of limitations expires, you are forever barred from obtaining any monetary damages.
Additional challenges in bus accident cases include:
- When the incident involves a bus operated by a public entity, there may be a much shorter time restriction than the three-year statute of limitations. The claims process is also slightly different, since you may be required to exhaust your administrative remedies before suing in court.
- Maryland follows the rule of contributory negligence, which highlights how misconduct by the victim affected the bus accident. If you failed to exercise reasonable care when acting, you cannot recover any compensation for your losses.
- There is a limitation on noneconomic damages in Maryland, and it is $905,000 for 2022. The restriction only applies to pain and suffering, emotional distress, and related losses. In a fatal bus accident in which there are two or more beneficiaries, the cap is $1,380,000. This amount increases every year on October 1, so the key to application of the statutory cap is the date of the bus accident.
Our Maryland Bus Accident Lawyers Will Seek Fair Compensation for Your Losses
No matter what type of bus-related incident caused your injuries, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and many other losses. To learn more about the legal process contact the Baltimore office of Bob Katz Law to set up a free case evaluation with a member of our team. A Maryland bus accident attorney can advise you on your options after reviewing the details of your claim.