In Buffalo Personal Injury Blog, NFTA Bus Injuries, Robert Maranto

New York Bus Accident Guide

Protecting Your Rights If You’ve Been Seriously Injured

Whether you were hit by a bus in a motor vehicle or injured as a passenger, the New York Bus Accident guide was created by personal injury attorney Robert Maranto to help residents protect their claim and obtain maximum compensation.

Being involved in a bus accident – whether as a passenger, pedestrian, or driver of another vehicle – is one of the scariest vehicle accidents to be involved in. After an accident, you’re likely in shock, scared, and unsure of who to trust. Our personal injury lawyers can help.

New York Bus Accident GuideBus operators have a responsibility to protect their passengers, pedestrians and fellow motorists on the road. Whether it be a city bus, charter bus, or party bus, your bus driver’s top priority is keeping you safe and adhering the rules of the road.

Unfortunately, bus accidents are all too common. For those involved in an accident, it can be one of the most terrifying, traumatic, and life-threatening types of motor vehicle accidents.

Have you been involved in a bus accident in New York? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Our lawyers can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We have extensive experience in bus accident and personal injury law. And our legal team is well equipped to help you fight insurance companies, bus company legal departments, and your own insurer for the financial help you need to recover.

Call today for a free, 100% no obligation case evaluation with one of our bus accident attorneys.

Common Types of Bus Accidents

New York is home to numerous bus operators. Tour buses, charter buses, party buses, and city buses all operate in the city, and thousands rely on these operators for safe transportation. In general, there are three ways you can be involved in a bus accident:

  • As a Passenger – Bus operators must properly maintain their vehicles and ensure the safety of their guests. If a bus operator caused an accident that you were injured in, you may be entitled to compensation. Common causes include: Reckless or impaired driving, unsafe bus/equipment conditions, and operator error.
  • As a Driver – Being involved in an accident with a bus is traumatic and potentially life-threatening. Other motorists often suffer significant injuries and property damage after colliding with a bus. Contact a personal injury lawyer right away if you or a loved one has been hurt in a bus accident.
  • As a Pedestrian – Pedestrians and cyclists are often involved in bus accidents, and these accidents have life-altering consequences for victims. If a bus operator’s negligence caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation.

How Our Bus Accident Lawyers Can Help

How Our Bus Accident Lawyers Can HelpAfter a bus accident, you likely don’t know who to trust. You may hear from the bus company’s insurer or legal department. Bus operators are typically protected by multi-million dollar insurance policies and well-heeled legal departments. Both their insurers and lawyers may be aggressive with you, bullying you into accepting an unfair settlement.

Similarly, your own insurer may also be unreceptive to your need for financial compensation. They may delay or outright deny your claims, push you to accepting a low-ball offer, or even ignore you. That’s unacceptable.

After an accident, you are rightfully entitled to compensation. And that’s how a personal injury attorney can help.

When you hire one of our Buffalo bus accident lawyers, you’re protected from this unfair behavior. Your attorney fights against unfair settlement offers, they push insurers to pay claims, and help you seek the maximum compensation for your injuries. After an accident, your primary focus should be on recovery – not fighting with insurers and lawyers.

Compensation for Bus Accident Victims

Victims of bus accidents face many new challenges. Medical bills and lost wages add up, putting financial stress on victims. Physically, a victim may be suffering from physical and emotional pain, stress, and may even face long-term disability. And emotionally, victims may experience grief, psychological distress, and PTSD.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you are entitled to compensation for all of the physical, emotional, and financial costs associated with your accident. Your lawyer can help you recover compensation for:

  • Medical treatment, equipment, rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium or normal life
  • Long-term disability

Compensation for Bus Accident Victims

Beyond these so-called compensatory damages, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well.

Punitive damages are a form of financial punishment that are levied against bus operators who were grossly negligent or acting with malice. This type of compensation is awarded to victims by a jury, after the case goes to trial. Ultimately, a qualified attorney can help you pursue any and all sources of compensation for your injuries.

What to Do After a Bus Accident

After an accident, you’ll likely be in shock – emotionally and physically. You’ll likely be unsure of your next steps. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, here are a few key ways to respond:

  • Seek Medical Attention – Your safety matters most. After an accident, seek medical help immediately. If you are unable to call 911, the bus operator or witnesses are responsible for calling paramedics. If you are in harm’s way, move to a safe location near the accident scene.
  • Call Police – No matter the severity of an accident, be sure you contact law enforcement. This is the operator’s responsibility if you are a passenger. Police officers may ask you for details about the accident. If you were involved as another driver, DO NOT admit fault. Admitting fault – even if you were inaccurate – can harm your case.
  • Document Injuries and Evidence – If you are able to, take photos and video of the accident scene, and any injuries that you have. Note any areas of pain as well. If you were operating a vehicle, take photos of the damage, and collect witness contact information as well.
  • Do Not Admit Fault – At the scene, with your insurer and with the bus company’s insurer/legal department, do not admit fault. You may not fully understand traffic laws or who had the right of way. Admitting fault will hurt your case. Prior to chatting with insurers, contact a qualified bus accident lawyer.
  • Seek Legal Advice – Our Buffalo bus accident lawyers have deep knowledge of local bus and traffic laws. We can help protect you from aggressive behavior, help you file claims and seek compensation, and ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. After an accident, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions | New York Bus Accident Guide

What Should I Know After Being involved in a Crash?

Bus accident claims in New York State are very different from typical car accident claims. If it’s an accident involving a bus such as the NFTA, the statute of limitation periods are reduced greatly, so things have to be done very quickly. In addition, it’s very important to understand, with respect to bus accident cases, that the no-fault law is very different.

When you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, you’ll go to the insurance company of the vehicle they’re in for the no-fault benefits. If you are sitting in an NFTA bus, the bus does carry no-fault benefits, but the law requires the individual first to go to the insurance company of any insurance that they may have on a vehicle that they own. In other words, we must first determine whether the individual has their own insurance and then if not, make a claim to the bus company for the no-fault benefits that you would be entitled to.

What Mistakes Should I Avoid After an Accident?

What Mistakes Should I Avoid After an AccidentThe primary mistake that is made by people who are involved in bus accidents is talking to the bus company after the accident. There is a police force in Western New York that is assigned to the NFTA. It is the actual NFTA Police. Anytime a bus is involved in an accident, the NFTA Police are summoned. Understand that the bus company and the NFTA Police are both employees of the NFTA, so when the NFTA Police come to a bus accident, it is our experience and my opinion personally that when they’re filling out the reports, they do everything that they can to assist the bus company.

In addition to not talking to the bus company personnel who tried to call you, I would be very leery of talking to the NFTA Police that come out to the scene after the accident, and provide them with as little information as is possible in order to make sure that they at least know that you were on the bus and that you were injured. All other information should wait, and should go through your attorney.

How Do I Choose an Attorney for a Bus Accident Claim?

Initially, when you’re talking to an attorney regarding a bus accident claim, you should ask that attorney if they truly understand all of the idiosyncrasies associated with that type of claim. The no-fault law, with respect to bus accident cases, is very different. The other thing that’s extremely important is regarding the ability of a bus company to take statements in your case and many attorneys don’t understand the importance of these statements.

The NFTA would reach out to you immediately. Under our laws, they are entitled to a written statement prior to you commencing a claim. Those statements are typically done in a written format, where someone from the NFTA visits you and writes down responses to questions that they ask you. Those questions are tailored to assist the bus company, and the answers that you are providing to the individual are then written in an attempt to make it most helpful to the bus company. Your attorney needs to understand this. Your attorney needs to know that before anything gets signed, it has to be reviewed by the attorney extremely carefully because that document becomes one of the most important documents going forward.

To sum up, you need someone who’s done this before, who’s been involved in bus accident cases, and who understands how to handle the insurance company. To make sure that, from a no-fault standpoint, you have all of your injuries looked at and we know exactly what’s wrong with you before the case is resolved.

What If the Bus Caused a Car Accident?

In the event that you are seriously injured in a bus accident, the first thing that you should do is contact us. You should absolutely not talk to the insurance company and talk as little as possible to the NFTA Police if they come. Even if the Buffalo Police come, remember that the NFTA Police and the Buffalo Police all know each other as well, so I would refrain from giving too much information.

The most important thing with respect to a bus accident case is number one, being able to get through the statement period unscathed; number two, recognizing that there’s an abbreviated statute of limitations; and number three, making sure that you are in a position to have all of your medical benefits in place so that you can find out what’s wrong with you.

In a case where the NFTA bus driver was potentially at fault for the accident, and you’re getting no-fault benefits through the bus company, you need to remember that they have an incentive to send you out to an independent medical examination quickly. What that means is that the NFTA will hire a doctor of their choice to determine whether or not you need additional treatment. They can get an opinion that you don’t need treatment early on, to say that will help them with respect to the rest of their case because that would transfer over to your case against them on your injuries side. We need to find out what’s wrong with you, and do so fairly quickly, so they don’t find a doctor that will indicate that you need no treatment and then you’ll be precluded from getting it.

How Do I File a Claim for a Bus Accident?

How Do I File a Claim for a Bus AccidentThe law used to be that we were required to file a notice of claim with bus companies prior to making a claim against them. Presently, we’re not required to do so. In a bus accident claim, we’re simply required to put the bus company on notice within a reasonable amount of time. More importantly, if you’re going to be making a claim against the bus company, it’s very important from a no-fault standpoint, that the no-fault documentation be submitted to them within 30 days. Again, that time period is that it’s received within 30 days, not mailed to them.

One of the tricky things, with respect to the no-fault side of things, is that we do have to determine whether you have your own insurance or someone who has insurance that might be applicable to your no-fault. The worst case scenario is that you submit a no-fault claim to the bus company and then it’s determined later on that you have available insurance elsewhere. We only have 30 days to get the claim in. If the bus company is not responsible for your no-fault claim because you have other insurance, and you haven’t submitted the claim to your other insurance company timely, you can be in a position where you have no insurance for the injuries that you sustained as a result of the bus accident. It’s very important that this all happens very quickly.

Can I Sue If My Child Got Injured on the School Bus?

If a child is injured on a school bus and the driver of the school bus can be shown to be negligent, then a claim can be made against the bus driver. Sometimes school districts have their own employees working as bus drivers, or sometimes those bus drivers are employees of a bus company. In either situation, the company or the district can be sued if the bus driver is at fault. If the bus driver acts negligently and the bus driver is an employee of the school district, then in the litigation, we would pursue not only the bus driver, but we would also pursue the district as well.

How Do I Determine the Value of My Claim?

When we determine the value of a claim on a bus accident, we look at a number of different factors. The initial factor with the bus claim is whether we can show that the bus company is at fault for the injuries that you sustained. One thing that is very important in that analysis, and different from any other accident claims in New York State, is that the bus company has different requirements that are applicable to them.

In New York State, when we’re at trial, we have a Pattern Jury Instruction, and that Pattern Jury Instruction gives the jury instruction with respect to each type of case. In a negligence case, we need to show that the individual who is responsible for your injuries was at fault by 51%. In a bus accident case, the legislature in New York State has established rules which give heightened responsibilities to individuals on the bus. In other words, a bus driver can act negligently and still not be held responsible legally because the jury instructions give them leeway.

The first thing that we look at is whether or not we’re going to be able to prove that the bus company and the bus driver was negligent with these enhanced jury instructions. We take that into consideration, we make an analysis of what the likelihood of it being victorious at trial are, and then we look at your injuries. The injuries are determined based on what your current injuries are – what you’re feeling, how you’re doing at the time that we’re looking at settling – and then we ask our doctors to provide us with an idea of your future prognosis. Once we take all those things into play, we also look to see if you have any lost wages or components of future medical benefits that are going to be required. All those things come into a determination as to what we believe the value of the case is. If they don’t come to that number, we go to trial.

Should I Take the First Settlement Offer?

I’m asked on a regular basis by potential clients whether they should take an offer from an insurance company or bus company early on. What I tell all of my clients is that early on, we never know exactly what’s wrong with you. There are many times that my clients have had injuries that in the first several months have been bad, but not horrific, but then have degenerated into worse injuries. I’ve had many clients who have, before contacting me, signed releases with insurance companies and/or bus companies who have paid them what I would describe as a pittance, considering their injuries, and then later on were prevented from pursuing the claim further because that release was executed.

Before executing a release, it is absolutely imperative that you know that your injuries have either plateaued or that they are all better. We need to know what the final prognosis is. I ask the doctors to look ahead 10 years from now because the value of your case is not only dependent on the pain and suffering you had up until the date of the settlement, but more importantly, is what you’re going to look like years from now. Are you going to be the same, better, or are you going to have degenerated? If the issue is that you could get worse, you may get worse, or it’s likely that you’re going to get worse, then the compensation has to come from the insurance company or the bus company to compensate you for that as well. I would say please do not sign anything until you’ve talked to us.

How Long Will This Case Last?

How Long Will This Case LastOne of the first questions that’s often asked of me is how long the case will last. My response to my clients at that point is that the case will take as long as necessary in order to maximize the recovery. When you first walk into our office, we generally don’t know what’s wrong with you. We don’t know how long your injuries are going to bother you and whether there’s going to be any permanency to those injuries.

During the process of you getting treatment, gathering medical records and getting the opinions of the medical doctors, we make a determination as to whether the case should be resolved with an insurance company or whether it should be put in suit. If put in suit, the case takes longer because we’re in a posture where we have to go through a full litigation process. That process can take a year, sometimes longer depending on how much fighting is going on between the insurance company or the bus company and ourselves.

This is all dependent on whether or not the judge has room for a trial; sometimes calendars are extremely bogged down and we have difficulty getting trial dates. From the standpoint of early on and understanding exactly how long a case will last, we don’t know. We do not settle cases quickly just to get rid of them. We tend to take a little bit longer on our cases so we can maximize the recovery.

Get A Free Case Review Today

If you’ve been involved in an accident, we want to help. Our Buffalo bus accident lawyers can help you protect your rights, file and seek compensation, and defend you against aggressive behavior and unfair offers.

Call now for a free, 100% no obligation case evaluation. We’ll provide advice, and you are under no requirement to hire our legal team.

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