There are many private motor coaches and transit buses in the state of California. For that reason, it is not surprising to learn that many bus accidents happen every year. As a result, many people are left nursing injuries, some of which could be mild and others severe. The good thing is that personal injury laws in California allow victims of bus accidents to file for compensation for their injuries.
The challenge is always in getting the compensation or even the right amount of money you deserve as compensation. That is why at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we offer help to residents of San Diego, CA, in winning their personal injury lawsuits. Therefore, if you or your loved one is planning to pursue compensation after a bus accident, we can help you go through the process successfully.
Compensation for Bus Accidents in California
There are so many reported cases of auto accidents in the state of California this year alone. Most of them have been attributed to negligence. If you have been in such an accident, you must be devastated and in shock. However, there is some good news, which is the fact that you can pursue compensation from the negligent party for all the damages incurred in the accident. However, the process of filing for payment is not always straightforward. You will need proper legal guidance and assistance from the start to the end of the process. If you are planning to pursue this compensation, your main goal should be winning the case, which is why we are here to help.
There are all manner of auto accidents on our California roads today, most of which are caused by buses serving both the major cities as well as the rural counties. Bus accidents are quite common, taking different forms, including rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, T-bone crashes and rollovers, among others. Injuries resulting from such accidents do not just happen to the driver and passengers but also other road users, including bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians. Understanding the cause of the accident is the number one step in establishing your compensation claim.
If you have suffered injuries in a bus accident, you must be traumatized, both emotionally and physically. Injuries resulting from such an accident could be minor or severe, depending on the impact of the crash. Treating these injuries can take a significant toll on your finances. Again, you may not be able to go back to work until you heal completely, which translates to missed chances of earning a living. Some injuries may even cause you to change jobs, especially if you were injured in a manner that you cannot do the same work you were doing before the accident. It means that you may have to settle for a lower pay than you could make before the accident.
All these and many others are the factors that will be considered in determining your compensation amount. This amount must be well-calculated, depending on the compensatory damages available for the type of accident you were involved in. Once the figures are brought before the court, the judge will have to rule in your favor or against you, depending on other evidence that will be brought before the court. It means that there are usually no guarantees. For that reason, the plaintiff must do their best to ensure that their case is winning in the end.
There are so many do’s and don'ts that a person filing a personal injury claim must be aware of as they make a significant difference in the outcome of their cases. Understanding California personal injury laws affecting bus accidents may be one of them. This way, you will know the process to take, the documents the court will need, and other things the court might need to ensure that your case is accepted in a civil court and judged in your favor. You could also get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you are getting it right every step of the way.
Other things that you can do to win your case are discussed below:
Seeking Immediate Medical Treatment
Seeking immediate treatment is not always obvious, especially if the injured person does not feel hurt. Sometimes one may feel okay after an accident, maybe because of the shock, but in the real sense, they are seriously hurt. That is why it is advisable to seek medical treatment immediately if you get involved in a bus accident. The doctor will check your injuries and treat them on time to prevent them from getting worse and costly to treat.
Again, seeking immediate medical help will help justify your compensation claim for medical expenses. If you wait until later to seek medical treatment, the insurance company may argue that you did not incur any injuries on the day of the accident. They could use such an argument to deny your claim. For that reason, call for medical help, or ask another person to call an ambulance if you are seriously hurt. Against, there may be other people who have been injured in the same accident and may need medical help.
It is advisable to try and recognize your injuries immediately, so that they can be documented on the first report the police will make once they arrive at the accident scene. If you do not feel hurt, refrain from saying that you feel okay. Such a statement can be used to deny you the compensation you deserve. By agreeing to be seen by a doctor, you prove that you have been hurt and may need compensation for your damages. This prepares the at-fault party to receive your claim for compensation.
Note that all your medical records will be needed as proof of damages once the case is filed in a civil court. The insurance adjuster will also need to go through the medical report, from the first day of treatment, to be sure that the amount of money on your claim is precisely what you deserve.
Hire a Legal Representative
As mentioned above, the legal process in California is not always easy, especially for a person that has suffered injuries in an accident. There are several processes that you may need to go through to get compensated for your injuries, which may not be known to you. Again, you may have suffered severe injuries. In this case, your priority should be getting proper medical care and regaining your health. For that reason, you need someone to collect evidence and build the groundwork for your case to file it before the set deadline.
Again, not all compensation claims for people who have been involved in bus accidents are successful. One needs proper legal advice and guidance to ensure that they are following the right guidelines in filing for compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney will know and explain to you all the laws that will impact your case. He/she will provide you with the available options regarding your situation and guide you in making the right decision. This way, your chances of getting compensation will improve.
Again, your attorney will work on your case as you recover from your injuries. He will collect all the relevant evidence to build a strong claim against the at-fault party. He/she will also work with other experts to determine the at-fault party. With your authorization, he/she will try to negotiate with the insurance company for a fair compensation. If this does not work, he/she will prepare all the necessary documents to ensure that the case is filed in a civil court on time.
Note that California laws keep changing from time to time. That is why it is advisable to work with an experienced attorney. Such an attorney will know the right procedures to follow and the proper documents to file in court to facilitate your case.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
Evidence is essential if you want to prove your claim in a civil court. When an accident happens, there is usually a lot of confusion. So much evidence can be lost if it is not gathered immediately after the crash. The injured party will, for instance, need to know the bus that has caused the accident, the bus driver, and anyone else that might have witnessed the accident.
The law requires everyone that has been involved in an auto accident to wait at the accident scene until the police clear them. It should give the injured party enough time to ask the bus driver for his identifying information, including his/her name, address, license number, the bus registration number and contact details of his/her insurance provider. With that information, you will know who to contact once you decide to file for compensation for your injuries.
The pictures and videos of the accident scene might be necessary, too, as well as images and videos of your injuries as well as the damages at the scene of the accident. If there are eyewitnesses who are willing to provide their statement, you could take their contact details too. Any evidence you gather will help in building a strong case against the at-fault party.
If you have been seriously injured and may not be able to gather evidence at the accident scene, ask someone else to do it for you. You may also call the police or your attorney to ensure that crucial evidence is not being lost.
Be Careful What You Say
There is always a need to remain calm after an accident. However, due to the panic, people tend to say more than they should, which at-times may compromise their efforts of getting compensated. The at-fault driver may, for instance, try to blame you for causing the accident. What you say at that instance may be used against you when the time to file for compensation comes. For that reason, remain calm and do not admit fault even if you are under pressure to do so.
If anyone asks how you are feeling after the accident, do not be quick to dismiss your injuries as minor. It is best not to say anything because a simple reply such as you are okay may be used to mean that you did not sustain any injuries in the accident. The insurance adjuster may also call to ask you about your injuries. Refer them to your attorney, as you may understate your injuries, which may be used against you in the future.
Remaining calm at the scene of the accident will help you avoid some of the issues that affect many personal injury cases in California. You could try and help the other injured persons as you wait for the police or medical help to arrive. However, using words such as 'I am sorry' may be taken out of context to mean that you were to blame for the accident.
Notify the Insurance Company
Insurance companies usually do compensation in case of an auto injury. For that reason, you may need to notify your auto insurance provider as soon as possible. There are auto policies that have a notification clause, which makes it extremely important to report the accident immediately. The company will send its representative to investigate your claims. If your policy covers the kind of accident you have been involved in, you can be sure to get compensation once the company verifies your claims.
You may also need to notify the auto insurer of the alleged at-fault driver. This is the company that will pay your compensation once it is established that it is indeed their client that caused the accident. Notifying the at-fault party’s insurer can wait until you receive treatment for your injuries. You also need to have gathered sufficient evidence to support your claims that it is the other driver that caused the accident.
Once you notify the at-fault party’s insurance provider, the company will send an insurance adjuster to investigate your claim. Note that the adjuster will be working to safeguard the interest of his/her employer. For that reason, he will do anything possible to ensure that the company pays less than you have included in your claim. The insurance adjuster may achieve this by trying to offer a quick settlement.
Since you are probably financially drained after all the medical treatments you have received, you may be tempted to accept their offer even if it falls way below what you were hoping to receive. You need proper legal advice and guidance to ensure that your best interests are safeguarded and that you are only accepting a settlement that you deserve.
Be careful when dealing with an insurance adjuster. He/she may start asking questions about the accident, causing you to give contradicting information that could jeopardize your efforts to get compensation. The ideal thing to do is to refer the adjuster to your personal injury attorney. A smart attorney will know how best to handle the adjuster, the insurance company, and what to do in case the insurance company refuses to settle the claim out-of-court.
Try to Negotiate a Fair Settlement
The most important thing when you are trying to win your personal injury lawsuit is trying to get the most out of your negotiations with the at-fault party's insurance provider. Insurance companies are in business to save money and will, therefore, use any means possible to offer less than the plaintiff deserves. The first thing you should do is to determine the worth of your claim. Consider all your damages and come up with a rough estimate of exactly how much you think you deserve as compensation. Your personal injury attorney will help you with that.
Settling the matter out-of-court is an easy and quick way to get compensated when compared to filing the case in a civil court. Insurance companies have more to lose if a valid lawsuit goes to court. For that reason, they will quickly agree on a settlement. Ensure that you are not meeting with the insurance adjuster alone, as he/she may take advantage of your innocence to rip you off your compensation. A smart personal injury attorney can effectively conduct such negotiations.
Remain calm during such negotiations. Insurance adjusters have extensive experience in handling these settlements and may provoke you to say or do something that might compromise your chances. Make sure that the negotiations are done as fast as possible before the time provided by the statute of limitations runs out. If the settlement is not done, file your case in a civil court and let the court decide the matter.
Keep Your Paperwork Organized
Paperwork is vital for any successful compensation claim. Any document that has information relating to the accident is useful in your application, therefore keep it safe and within reach. Organizing paperwork can start as soon as the accident happens. This is the time to write down your side of the story, when the memory of the accident is still fresh in your mind. If you have interviewed a few eyewitnesses, you need to keep their account of the incident safe, too, as it may be useful to you if the case is filed in a civil court. Any pictures or videos taken at the accident scene will help support your claims.
Experienced personal injury attorneys have excellent skills in handling necessary paperwork and protecting evidence. Working alongside such an attorney will ensure that you have all the required documents when the time comes to file your claim in court.
Another important document you might need in your portfolio is the police report. After an accident, the police are usually the first to arrive at the scene of the accident. Their description of how the accident occurred and who could have been fault will help you prove fault as well as justify your claim amount.
In addition to the police report, you will need medical records from any medical healthcare center that you have attended since the accident. All the injuries treated must be related to the accident. You need to keep copies of all medical bills and receipts, as well as any medical reports that could explain the cause of your injuries. Include gas mileage, too, as this is part of the expenses you incurred while seeking medical treatment after the accident.
Finally, you might want to keep in record all the correspondences you might have had with the insurance company. The communications may be in the form of notes, phone messages, as well as conversations.
Honor the Statute of Limitations
All personal injury claims have a time-limit within which the plaintiff must file a lawsuit in court for compensation. This time-limit is covered under the Statutes of Limitations. The plaintiff needs to be aware of this deadline because your compensation claim will be disqualified if it is filed after the set deadline.
As mentioned above, settling the case out of court should be the best option to consider as it saves time and money. However, note that the insurance company may waste so much of your time to compel you to take their offer, especially if the time-limit is quickly approaching. When negotiating for a settlement, keep the statutes of limitations in mind. Pull out of the negotiations if you feel that your time is being wasted. This will give you enough time to prepare a lawsuit and file it on time in court.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
If you have been involved in a bus accident and would like to get compensated for your injuries, you need to plan well to ensure that you win the case. The help of an experienced personal injury attorney will go a long way in making sure that everything is going on well for a fair compensation in the end. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we have an excellent team of personal injury attorneys who have great skills and experience in handling bus accident claims. Therefore, if you or your loved one has been injured and is contemplating pursuing compensation, call us at 619-478-4059. We serve the residents of San Diego, CA and surrounding areas.