Bus Accident Lawyers Serving Maryland, Virginia And Washington, DC
Those riding on a bus at the time of an accident have zero control over the factors leading to a collision. Additionally, most public transportation buses in Maryland and Virginia do not have seat belts. A great majority of serious bus injuries are caused when individuals are thrown about inside the vehicle upon the force of impact. The law typically holds the operators of commercial carriers (vehicles providing transport to the public) to the “highest standard of care.” Essentially, when you ride a bus being operated by another person (or any other commercial vehicle for that matter: airplane, boat, etc.), you are essentially putting your life in the bus operator’s hands and trusting them to safely navigate you from point A to point B. The operator must thus act with the highest level of care to ensure your safety, and often when an accident does occur, it is because this duty has been breached.
What’s the Cause of Your Accident?
The causes of bus accidents can vary. The most typical causes include but are not limited either to:
- Talking on the cell phone
- Reckless Driving
- Improper Lane Changes
- Failing To Yield
- Drug Use
- Alcohol Use
- Negligent Maintenance
- Brake Failure
- Failure of drivers to comply with the legal standard of care
Every Second Counts
Because bus accidents often result in substantial injuries and substantial liability for the bus company, the bus companies are typically well-prepared to respond to an accident scene and perform an internal accident investigation to determine the cause of the crash. These investigations often result in performing drug tests for the bus drivers, capturing and preservation of video footage, interviewing witnesses, and other kinds of evidentiary preservation. Not surprisingly, despite all of these efforts, it is very rare that the bus company or its insurer will voluntarily attribute the cause of the accident to their own bus driver’s negligence. Therefore, if you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a bus accident, you should obtain an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to aggressively conduct an independent investigation into the facts and to rapidly secure the evidence that you will need to prove whose fault the accident was.
Who Will be Held Responsible?
Bus collisions in Maryland and Virginia usually involve one of the following entities:
- Maryland Government Buses
- DC Metro Buses
- Transit Companies
- Greyhound Lines
- Metro Access Buses
- School buses
- Other Private Bus Companies
- Medical Transport Companies
- Tour Bus Companies
Again, because the operators of buses can face substantial liability after a collision, the companies who employ the operators typically are prepared to visit the accident scene immediately after an accident and obtain recorded statements, witness information, video recordings, photographic evidence, and otherwise secure whatever evidence they can. This is why it’s important to contact an attorney immediately to discuss the specific facts of your case. Your attorney will be able to promptly secure the evidence you need to prove your case and make sure actions are taken immediately to preserve your claim.
Our lawyers fight every day to help those who have been injured receive just compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident in Maryland or Virginia, contact our Lawyers today for a free consultation!.
SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENTS INVOLVING CHILDREN/ Negligence Generally
Like many traffic-related incidents, bus accidents usually happen because of someone’s negligence. Frequently, these accidents occur because:
- The responsible party had a duty to exercise reasonable care in operating the vehicle so as to not cause a risk of harm to others on the road;
- That person failed to comply with this legal obligation;
- The breach of the legal duty of care caused an accident, and you or your child was injured; and,
- You suffered losses as a result of the injuries, for which you are entitled to monetary compensation.
Different Standards of Care Around Children
This description of negligence in bus accident cases notwithstanding, incidents involving children deviate from this type of case in some ways. A person who encounters a child must exercise a degree of care that goes above and beyond reasonableness: The higher standard is extra or unusual care, and motorists must comply with it when driving around such areas as:
- Other recreational areas
- Bus stops
- Residential areas
- Other locations children tend to frequent
This heightened standard of care does not mean a driver is automatically liable for striking a child. Maryland law also puts the focus on the child’s conduct in some cases.
Contributory Negligence Applies to Children
Maryland personal injury cases incorporate a harsh rule called “contributory negligence,” which looks at the actions of the injured victim. If his or her actions were a factor that caused the accident, including a bus accident, the victim is barred from recovering any compensation.
In addition, under Maryland case law, children are capable of contributory negligence. You may not be able to recover any compensation for your child if he or she was also negligent in a bus accident. The standard for applying contributory negligence depends on age, as courts have determined that children under 5 are incapable of acting negligently. For older children, the key question is what a prudent child would have done under the circumstances. When a child of the same age, mental capacity, intelligence, and training would have acted differently, your child may be held accountable.
Note that the question of contributory negligence for children is generally one for the jury in a bus accident case. Still, you can be sure an insurance company claims adjuster will rely on it to reject your claim.
How to File a Claim if Your Child Suffers Bus Accident Injuries
Filing a claim for your child’s bus accident injuries involves a special process because of his or her age: Officially, a person under the age of 18 years does not have the capacity to act with respect to legal matters. Still, you do have options as a parent or guardian:
- Settlements Under $5,000: Maryland law allows you to settle a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company if the amount is less than $5,000. Attorney’s fees and costs do not apply to this ceiling. The insurance company would issue the check in your name in the parent’s name as a payee. You can deposit the check in the child’s account or your own, but the funds must be used for your child’s benefit.
- Settlements $5,000 or More: You will need court approval to be the child’s official guardian to act on your child’s behalf. Guardianship proceedings are entirely different from the claim itself; this part of the process is only necessary so that your child has legal status.
- Filing a Lawsuit: If you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, regardless of the amount, it may be necessary to resort to litigation. Only a guardian can file a personal injury lawsuit from a bus accident, so you must go through guardianship under these circumstances, as well.
Get Legal Help from a Bus Accident Attorney in Maryland
The contributory negligence rule in Maryland can be tough, but there are arguments against its application in some cases. The key is retaining an experienced lawyer who knows the laws and can develop legal strategies that can help you avoid such a harsh result. Additionally, in most cases, where you would initiate a personal injury or wrongful death case by filing a claim with an insurance company, you should expect considerable hurdles in working with a claims adjuster since these employees are trained to find reasons to avoid paying out compensation. They will intensely scrutinize your forms and supporting documentation, looking for ways to reject your claim or offer a low amount to settle it. An adjuster may try to blame the bus accident on the victim and will usually contest the severity of the injuries. Sometimes negotiations fail, and a lawsuit must be filed against the at-fault party. For more information on your rights as a bus accident victim, please contact the Baltimore law office of Bob Katz Law. We can set up a free consultation for you to review your circumstances and advise you on legal remedies that may be available to you and your family.