Every day in Port Charlotte, FL., public transportation and busses carry travelers to and from their destinations. Typically, bus travel is known for being an environmentally friendly and safe mode of transport. However, when bus accidents occur, they can have serious consequences for passengers, other drivers, and even pedestrians.
If you’ve been involved or injured in a bus or a car accident in Port Charlotte, FL., we’re here to help. Here at The Law Place, our team of injury lawyers are specialized in bus accidents and is experienced in winning these types of cases for clients all over the State of Floria. We work to help you understand your legal rights and to help you win compensation. We also build legal defenses to counter any liability you may face for your accident.
Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer near you today. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on (941) 444-4444.
Who Can Be Liable for Bus Accidents?
Bus accidents in Florida can be caused by a number of factors, and in many cases, more than one individual can be at fault. Individuals who could be liable for a bus accident include:
- Bus passengers – Bus passengers could be held liable for a bus accident if they were distracting the driver in any way. This could happen if passengers are rowdy, intoxicated, behaving inappropriately, or attempting to engage the driver in conversation whilst he is driving.
- Bus drivers – Bus drivers are one of the most common causes of bus accidents. Even if they are experienced and well-trained, long hours on the road often cause them to become fatigued or easily distracted. They also are under pressure to meet strict schedules, which can lead to speeding.
- A bus company – It is also common for a transportation or a bus company to share some liability for a bus accident. This could be the case if they hired an under-qualified driver, did not provide proper training, or required the bus driver to drive for a long time without legally mandated rest breaks.
- Other drivers – Other drivers on the road could be at fault for a bus accident, most commonly for trying to pass a bus whilst it is pulling out. This leads to side-on collisions that can cause serious damage. Drivers could also be responsible if they were driving recklessly, speeding, distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated.
- Pedestrians – Pedestrians could cause a bus accident if they were jaywalking, crossing the road at inappropriate times, or if they were acting unsafely around the road due to being reckless or intoxicated.
What Happens if You’re Injured But Also at Fault for a Bus Accident?
It is common for accident victims to share some fault for the accident they are involved in. If you become injured in a traffic incident, you are not automatically innocent just because of your injuries. You may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident, for example, if you were jaywalking, driving whilst distracted, speeding, or if you were a bus passenger who distracted the driver. In this case, you would have acted negligently.
In this case, you will be subject to Florida’s Comparative Negligence rule. Under Florida Statute 768.81, this law ensures that all negligent parties are held responsible for their share of any damages caused. Once a total amount of monetary damages has been determined, it will be divided among the defendant and plaintiff proportionately based on their share of fault. This is decided by a jury in a court of law.
So, if damages totaled $100,000 but you were 10% at fault for a bus accident, you would receive 90% (in this case, $90,000). You are entitled to compensation under this rule as long as your percentage fault is below 50%.
Personal Injury Compensation in Port Charlotte Florida
Bus accidents come with serious consequences and potentially devastating injuries for those involved. Whilst many drivers will have their own insurance, this often is not enough to cover medical expenses. In fact, some estimates put the average cost of medical treatment following a motor vehicle accident at $50,000 or above.
In this instance, there are a number of options available for you to pursue in order to receive compensation.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
By law, every driver in Port Charlotte, Florida, is required to have a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance. This means that if you are involved in a bus accident, you will first go through your own insurance company to cover your own costs. Your PIP insurance will cover:
- 80% of your medical bills should you become seriously injured. A serious bodily injury is one that causes a significant risk of death, serious disfigurement, or damage to an internal organ or the brain.
- Up to $2,500 of medical bills for a non-serious injury.
- Up to 60% of lost wages, should your earning capacity be affected. This includes wages lost whilst you were recovering from immediate injuries as well as long-term income loss due to disability.
- Funeral expenses should the policyholder become deceased in a wrongful death case.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
PIP insurance also covers injuries if you are a passenger who is involved in a bus accident.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
Whilst it is not compulsory for drivers to carry Bodily Injury Liability insurance in the State of Florida, many people choose to purchase this type of cover. This type of insurance covers you if you injure another individual in an accident. If the driver who is at fault for a car accident has this insurance, you may be able to file a claim against them in order to receive compensation for your injuries.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
If your medical bills and economic damages exceed what is covered by your PIP insurance, you may choose to file a bodily injury liability claim (if the at-fault driver possesses this type of insurance) or a personal injury claim.
Your accident lawyer will be able to help you file a claim against the at-fault driver. This involves approaching the insurance company and the legal representation of the at-fault driver to demand an amount of monetary compensation. An independent mediator is often brought in at this stage to help both parties agree on a total for damages caused, as well as to reach a settlement agreement.
The benefit of pursuing a personal injury claim is that the whole process is completed outside of a courtroom. This means that there tends to be far less cost associated. Taking a claim to court is a lengthy process that will take a legal professional many hours to prepare for. This means that you’ll need to be sure you will receive an amount of compensation from your lawsuit that makes this cost worthwhile. Settling out of court is also much more private and discreet.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement, or if your legal team feels that you could receive a higher amount in a court of law, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In addition to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and wrongful death, you could also be entitled to receive a higher amount in non-economic benefits for pain and suffering caused by the bus or car accident.
The benefit of filing a personal injury lawsuit compared to settling out of court is that awarded damages tend to be much higher. However, you’ll need to work with an experienced bus and car accident lawyer to build a strong legal defense in your favor. Otherwise, you could be held liable for a portion of the damages and lose out on receiving a higher level of compensation.
What Needs to Happen for a Successful Personal Injury Case?
In order to have a successful personal injury case, you will need to prove liability, prove that negligence occurred, and base everything on solid evidence. Following this, you will also need to have a strong legal defense in order to protect yourself from any potential liability claims from others involved in the accident.
Personal injury lawyers will be looking at all evidence involved in order to determine who was at fault for the accident, as well as how this can be proved. A bus accident lawyer will be able to help you gather any information you need in order to prove liability. Evidence they could use to prove this include:
- Eyewitness testimonies.
- Surveillance footage.
- Any evidence you have gathered at the scene of the crime.
- Vehicle data logs and bus schedules.
- Police reports.
In order for your personal injury claim or lawsuit to be successful, your personal injury and bus accident lawyer will need to prove that negligence occurred. For this to be successful, it will need to be proved that:
- The individual at fault for the accident owed you a duty of care.
- The individual at fault for the accident breached this duty of care.
- Your injuries were directly caused by this breach of duty of care.
You should start to collect any evidence as soon as you are able. If you are seriously injured in a bus accident, it may be difficult to do this at the scene of the crime. However, the more evidence you can collect, the better chance you will have of achieving a higher amount of compensation and reducing any liability attributed to you.
It’s also important to continue to collect evidence as time progresses. You will need to keep a clear record of your injuries and associated costs over a long-term period in order to give your case the best chance of a favorable outcome. Remember, it can sometimes take 2-3 years to receive a court date for a personal injury lawsuit. Your injuries may have healed by this time, so it will be important to have clear evidence to present in a court of law to receive the right level of compensation.
Types of evidence that could help your case include:
- Detailed notes of everything you can remember before, during, and after the accident.
- The names of anyone involved.
- The details of any vehicles involved.
- Photographs of the scene of the crime.
- Photographs of any injuries sustained (immediately after the accident as well as of the healing process longer-term.)
- Any medical costs and expenses.
- Any wages that have been lost as a result of being injured.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Bus Accident in Port Charlotte
There are a number of best practices you should remember if you are involved in a traffic accident in Port Charlotte. These will help protect your rights, help you understand your legal obligations, and will give you a better chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Get Checked by a Medical Professional
Firstly, it’s important to look after your own medical needs. If paramedics arrive at the scene of a bus or car accident, you should receive medical care. However, if your injuries are serious, you should also make sure you receive medical attention at a hospital or from another professional. After the accident, you may be suffering from shock, and you will still likely have adrenaline in your system. This can cause you to feel well even if you are not. Therefore, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get yourself checked.
According to Florida Statute 627.736, if you intend to make an injury claim, you will need to receive medical attention within 14 days following the accident in order to meet compensation requirements. Make sure to keep a record of any medical bills and expenses such as ambulance travel, medications, and doctors’ fees and keep them in a safe place in order to support your claim.
Comply With Law Enforcement Officers at the Scene
According to Florida Statute 316.061, it is the legal obligation of every driver to remain at the scene when vehicle accidents occur if any property damage or injury has been caused. Florida Statute 316.062 continues to state that it is your duty to render aid to anyone who has become injured and provide information to police officers, including:
- Driver’s license and registration.
If no law enforcement has arrived following an auto accident, you will need to contact the relevant authorities and remain a safe distance from the site of the incident until they arrive. Failure to do this could result in a criminal charge.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies in Port Charlotte, Florida, require you to contact them in the 24 hours following an accident. This does not mean that you have to file a claim during this time; simply that you have to report that an incident occurred.
You should bear in mind that insurance companies will usually be looking for ways to lower the amount of compensation they will pay you. So, it’s always best to seek legal advice from an experienced Port Charlotte law firm as early as possible. They will be able to advise you what to say to your insurance provider and help you to avoid harming your chances of missing out on the level of compensation you deserve.
Hire a Lawyer
There are many law firms to choose from in Port Charlotte, Florida. However, it’s always best to work with a personal injury attorney who specializes in bus accidents. This is because these types of lawyers will have real experience in winning cases like yours and defending these types of clients.
A reputable law firm will be able to talk about its track record in winning personal injury and accident cases. They’ll also be able to point you in the direction of real client reviews and testimonials, as well as external rating sites. For example, here at The Law Place, most of our team have an AVVO rating of 10.0 – the highest possible score.
How to Avoid Harming Your Chances of Receiving Compensation
It is crucial at this stage to be aware of certain pitfalls that could jeopardize any future claims or lawsuits you might pursue.
Firstly, you should avoid apologizing to other drivers or pedestrians for the accident as this could be classed as an admission of fault. This is something that could be later used by another motorist or pedestrian who may file a negligence case against you.
Whilst you are obligated to render aid at the scene of the bus accident, try to avoid moving anyone who has become injured unless you truly believe their life is at risk if you fail to act. Otherwise, you could cause further injury, which you may be held liable for.
In addition, do not accept any money at the scene of the crime and do not agree to settle out of court at this stage. Other drivers will often try to negotiate their way out of exchanging insurance details and try to downplay what has happened in order to avoid liability. However, you may not know the extent of your injuries or damage until after the accident. If you accept any compensation from another individual at this stage or agree to settle privately, you could risk jeopardizing a future claim if you choose to pursue it.
Contact The Law Place – Personal Injury and Bus Accident Lawyers
Bus accidents can cause serious injuries, expensive medical bills, property damage, disability, and more. For victims of bus and car accidents, this can result in devastating consequences for their overall quality of life as well as their finances.
If you’ve sustained serious injuries from an incident such as this, it’s important to work with a legal team that can support you. You have several options available to you in order to receive compensation and to hold the individual responsible for your accident accountable. Here at The Law Place, we support our clients in Port Charlotte and have a clear record in winning bus accident cases.
Whether you are a bus driver, a bus passenger, a motorist, or a pedestrian who has been involved in an accident in Florida, we can help. Many individuals avoid contacting a legal professional if they feel they were partially at fault for an accident. However, we can support you whatever your circumstances may be.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our Port Charlotte injury lawyers today by calling (941) 444-4444.