The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that 3,978 fatal crashes in the United States involved a large truck or bus in 2014, five percent lower than the year before. While the amount of fatal crashes has dropped, there is still some risk associated to riding a bus due to the size and number of passengers aboard these vehicles. If you sustain injury in a bus accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation. A Fort Lauderdale bus accident lawyer can help.
Call the bus accident and injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. to schedule a consultation today.
A number of factors can lead to severe or fatal bus accidents, including:
If you are ever involved in an injury while you are a bus passenger, determining who or what is liable for the accident is crucial to determining how you can recover compensation for your losses.
One of the most important aspects to determine in a bus accident is whether the fault lies with the bus itself, operator of the bus, or another driver.
This can vary as some buses are under the ownership of private companies, while others are under government agencies.
Recouping Your Losses from a Privately-Owned Bus Company
Here is a short list of the names of several private charter bus companies operating in the Fort Lauderdale area:
If your bus accident involved a privately-owned bus company, it will be substantially easier to recover compensation for your losses.
Firstly, all private bus companies in Florida must, by law, carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This PIP coverage will cover 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages.
You may also be able to recover compensation through a personal injury claim against the driver and/or bus company. You would be able to hold the bus company liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability (i.e., the bus company is liable for any actions its employees take while in the scope of his employment.).
While this will likely allow a larger payout, you will also need to contend will an experienced team of attorneys defending the bus company. A bus accident attorney from Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. can help.
If, however, your accident involved a government entity, your next course of action after your accident will be slightly different.
Recouping Your Losses from a Government-Owned Bus Company
Under state law, government-owned buses are not “motor vehicles;” therefore, they do not need to carry PIP coverage. This means that to cover your injuries, you must file a claim against the entity.
However, this is not an easy task. In the case of many accidents involving government entities in Florida, the state is able to use its sovereign immunity to avoid legal actions taken against it.
Sovereign immunity, as defined by the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School, is “the idea that the sovereign or government is immune from lawsuits or other legal actions except when it consents to them.”
In other words, unless the state consents to having action taken against it, the government entity involved in an accident is untouchable.
Fortunately, portions of the Florida State statutes waive sovereign immunity in several instances.
Florida Statute § 768.28 “waives immunity and allows actions at law against the State or any of its agencies or subdivisions to recover money damages in tort for injury to or loss of property, personal injury, or death, if, under the circumstances, a private person would be liable to the [injured party] in accordance with the general laws of Florida.”
This means if you or your personal property suffers injury as the result of a negligent act by a government-owned bus operator, you have the right to take the State to court, as long as the accident would have allowed you to take a private company to court.
The statute also explicitly states that the state is only liable for personal injuries if the government worker was acting within the scope of his employment.
In other words, the Florida government cannot be liable if a bus driver causes an accident outside the realm of his or her job duties.
It is important to note that to take any action against the state, you must file a Notice of Claim and deliver a written notice to the other party 60 days before you bring a claim against it.
Again, this is where having a skilled and knowledgeable team of personal injury lawyers can help you. The average Florida resident is likely not familiar with this process.
But the team at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L has decades of combined experience and can help ensure you follow the appropriate steps to receiving full compensation for your injuries.
In many instances, negligence on the part of another driver can lead to a serious or fatal bus accident.
If your accident was due to another driver’s carelessness, you may be able to hold that driver liable for your injuries by way of a third-party claim.
Note: Because Florida is a no-fault state, you must be able to prove that your injuries were serious (e.g., permanent injury, disfigurement, or scarring) to file a claim.
If you are able to prove serious injury, you may be able to file a claim for medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering, etc.
Filing a claim alone can be very difficult, especially when you are attempting to recover from serious injuries. Finding the right help is crucial to helping you recoup even a fraction of the losses you experience.
The personal injury attorneys at Fort Lauderdale-based firm Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L want to be your path to justice.
Give us a call to see how we can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us today: 954-524-2820