Buses are common throughout the metropolitan areas of southern California, including San Diego. In addition, many people use public bus services, charter buses, school buses, and long-distance buses every day throughout the state. While these large vehicles can generally offer safe and reliable transportation, bus accidents can happen in the San Diego, CA, area. When these incidents occur, injured victims must know their rights and the legal options available to recover their damages.
Were You Injured in a San Diego Bus Accident?
A bus accident can easily generate very complex legal claims for the victims involved. Many bus accidents result in injuries to multiple victims, and liability for their damages can fall on more than one party. Bus drivers have a professional responsibility to operate their vehicles as safely as possible, and when they fail to uphold this responsibility, they absorb liability for the damages they cause.
Suppose you or a loved one recently experienced a bus accident in the San Diego, CA, area. In that case, you probably have many questions concerning your options for legal recourse against the party responsible for causing the incident. An experienced San Diego bus accident lawyer is the best resource if you want to determine your most viable legal options for recovering bus accident damages as quickly as possible.
Why You Need Legal Representation for a Bus Accident Claim in San Diego, CA
Facing a civil claim can be incredibly daunting, and attempting to manage this process on your own while recovering from painful injuries would be a tremendous challenge. Filing any personal injury claim requires meeting strict procedural obligations with the local court. Even slight errors or a missed filing deadline can jeopardize your ability to recover your damages. A bus accident can easily cause devastating injuries that in turn lead to expensive medical bills and inability to work, quickly creating a desperate financial situation for you and your family.
Instead of attempting to shoulder these burdens unassisted, it is best to have an experienced San Diego bus accident lawyer handle your claim so you can focus on your recovery with peace of mind. In addition, the right attorney will make a significant difference in the outcome of any personal injury case, especially one that likely entails substantial damages that can impact the victim’s life for years to come.
Your legal team can handle your case proceedings on your behalf and provide you with timely updates as the case unfolds. They’ll help you uncover every available channel of compensation that’s available in your claim to maximize your recovery. They can also gather the evidence and witness testimony you will need to establish fault for your damages and hold the appropriate parties accountable for your losses. Ultimately, you have the best chance of succeeding with a personal injury claim and maximizing your recovery when you have a reliable attorney on your side.
What Is a Common Carrier?
Bus accident claims often raise legal questions concerning the responsibilities of common carriers. A “common carrier” is an organization that offers transportation services to the public for a fee. Some common carriers are operated by the government, while others are private companies. Depending on what type of bus your claim entails, your path to recovering compensation for your losses could be quite challenging.
If a publicly owned bus service bears liability for your damages, the government is typically immune from civil claims. The victim of a bus accident involving a government-owned bus would need to prove that a government employee, such as the bus driver, was negligent in some way that directly caused the bus accident. Suppose you successfully establish government employee liability for your bus accident. In that case, you will still face stricter procedural requirements than you would with a civil claim against a private entity, and your recovery options may be limited.
If the common carrier involved in your bus accident is a private entity, your case will unfold more closely to the framework for other personal injury claims between private parties. Private common carriers still have a duty of care to ensure their transportation services are safe for all passengers and generally absorb liability for any negligence from their employees that results in accidents.
Proving Liability for Your Bus Accident
Establishing liability is a crucial first step toward recovery in any personal injury claim. When you believe another party bears responsibility for the damages you’ve sustained, it is crucial to gather the evidence necessary for proving their liability. Your San Diego bus accident lawyer will help you determine which party or parties most likely bear liability for your damages and assist you in gathering the evidence you will need to prove they are responsible for your bus accident.
“Negligence” is the core legal concept of every personal injury claim. This term defines a failure to use reasonable care in a given situation. If you want to succeed with your bus accident claim in San Diego, you must prove four components of negligence:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the situation in question. This means providing clear proof that the defendant had a responsibility to act with reasonable care in the situation, such as a bus driver’s duty of care to operate their vehicle responsibly.
- The defendant breached their duty of care in some way. The plaintiff and their attorney must show the court that the defendant failed to uphold their duty of care in some manner. Driving under the influence (DUI), distracted driving, speeding, and reckless driving are just a few examples of how a driver could violate their duty of care and cause an accident.
- The plaintiff suffered actual harm. If you did not sustain any damages, you have no grounds for a personal injury claim. Your legal team will help you calculate the full scope of the damages resulting from your bus accident, including some you may have overlooked on your own.
- The plaintiff’s damages are solely the results of the defendant’s negligence. Thus, proving causation means providing clear proof that the plaintiff’s claimed damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence.
Once a plaintiff has successfully proven these four elements of negligence, their chance of success with their personal injury claim increases dramatically. For example, suppose multiple parties bear liability for a bus accident. In that case, the judge overseeing the case will assign a fault percentage to each defendant based on their level of contribution toward causing the accident. It is also possible for a plaintiff to absorb partial liability for causing their claimed damages.
Comparative Negligence in California San Diego Personal Injury Claims
California upholds a pure comparative negligence law. This law allows a plaintiff who is partially responsible for causing their personal injury damages to recover compensation for those damages less a percentage that reflects their level of fault for causing the incident in question. The judge handling the case will consider all available evidence and testimony to determine what level of fault, if any, rests with the plaintiff. If the judge assigns a fault percentage to the plaintiff, they lose that percentage of their case award.
Many states enforce modified comparative negligence rules that bar plaintiff recovery at 50% fault or more, but California has no such limit. Thus, the pure comparative negligence law theoretically allows a plaintiff who is found to be 99% at fault to recover the remaining 1% of their claimed damages. However, the pure comparative negligence law may not prevent the plaintiff from recovering partial compensation for their damages. Still, it also does not shield the plaintiff from a countersuit from the defendant when their fault is higher than the defendant’s.
Comparative negligence can significantly impact the plaintiff’s final case award, especially in a bus accident claim involving substantial damages. For example, if a plaintiff is 10% at fault in a $100,000 claim, they lose 10% of the case award and receive $90,000 instead. However, if the plaintiff’s claimed damages were $500,000 and they are 10% at fault, this would mean losing $50,000 from their case award. If you have any concerns about comparative negligence coming into play in your bus accident claim, your San Diego bus accident attorney will help you effectively leverage the available evidence to minimize your fault percentage and maximize your compensation as much as possible.
Damages and Compensation for Bus Accident Injuries
Buses are large vehicles, and bus accidents are capable of causing severe injuries to both passengers and the occupants of other vehicles involved in a crash. Therefore, you may have grounds for a bus accident claim if a bus hit you while you were driving your own vehicle or if you were injured while riding a bus that experienced an accident. Whatever your unique case may entail, it’s essential to consult an experienced San Diego bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after the incident for the best chance of maximizing your recovery.
California’s personal injury laws allow a plaintiff to claim compensation for all damages resulting from a defendant’s negligence. Thus, while the average bus accident victim may be able to calculate some of their immediate damages, they may overlook other forms of compensation, and an experienced attorney would be able to identify them. Typically, a bus accident claim can involve several types of economic damages such as:
- Medical expenses. If your bus accident caused physical injuries, you have the right to recover the cost of any medical treatments you require. This can include immediate medical expenses like your hospital bills and prescription costs, but it may also apply to long-term medical expenses if you suffer severe injuries. For example, if you require physical therapy and ongoing rehabilitative care following your bus accident, you could also claim the costs of your long-term treatments.
- Lost income. When your bus accident leaves you unable to work, you have the right to claim compensation for the income lost during your recovery period. For example, severe injuries may cause permanent disabilities that can prevent you from returning to work at all. If this occurs, your San Diego bus accident lawyer will help you recover compensation for your lost future earning capacity by calculating the income you would have reasonably expected to earn in the future until retirement age.
- Property damage. If a bus accident damaged your vehicle or any other personal property, you could add repair and replacement costs to your lawsuit as economic damages.
Your economic damages could be worth much more than you initially anticipated when the right attorney is handling your claim. However, depending on the severity of your accident, your economic damages may not even form the bulk of your total case award. California state law also allows personal injury plaintiffs to recover compensation for their pain and suffering.
Calculating Pain and Suffering for Bus Accident Injuries
It may sound challenging to assign a monetary value to physical pain or emotional trauma, but an experienced attorney can use several methods to determine reasonable pain and suffering compensation for a client. For example, suppose the plaintiff is expected to make a full recovery from their injuries. In that case, their attorney may seek “per diem” pain and suffering compensation that awards a set amount for each day the victim spends in recovery.
If the plaintiff suffered an injury that caused a permanent disability, their attorney would be more likely to seek a large lump sum instead. Attorneys usually calculate pain and suffering in this way by multiplying the victim’s claimed economic damages by a factor of two to five based on the severity of their injury. Thus, for example, if the plaintiff incurred $300,000 in medical expenses for an injury that caused a permanent impairment that affects their ability to live independently, their attorney could seek $600,000 or even more in pain and suffering compensation to reflect the severe permanent effects of the plaintiff’s injury.
How Your San Diego Bus Accident Attorney Can Help
Bus accident claims are some of the most complex motor vehicle accident claims that anyone can face. Having legal counsel you can trust makes it much easier to approach these difficult legal situations. The right attorney will make a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your case. The lawyers at Chris and Frank know that you likely have many questions about your rights and options for legal recourse following a bus accident in San Diego. Our goal is to help you approach the case with confidence. We’ll explain your options for recovery and help you gather the evidence and documentation you will require to succeed with your claim. If you are ready to get the answers you need to your most important legal questions, contact Chris and Frank to schedule your case review with an experienced team of San Diego bus accident lawyers.
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