Although buses are considered to be a relatively safe form of transportation, the reality is that far too many accidents happen. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), around 60,000 people are hurt in bus accidents in the United States each year. At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, we advocate tirelessly for bus accident victims. Here, our Birmingham bus accident lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the most important things to know if you were hurt on a bus in Alabama.
The Steps to Take After Being Injured on a Bus in Alabama
A bus accident can result in serious injuries. If you were hurt while on a bus in Alabama—whether Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority or any type of privately operated commuter bus—it is crucial that you know what to do to protect yourself and your rights. Here are four steps that you should always take after being injured on a bus in Birmingham:
- Seek Immediate Medical Care for Any Injuries: Your medical needs take the utmost priority. See a doctor right away for any bus accident injuries. Adrenaline can mask pain. Prompt medical care is not only vital for both your well-being and your ability to bring a legal claim. You cannot get bus accident injury compensation without medical records.
- Document the Accident and Your Injuries: Documentation is key to a personal injury claim in Alabama—and a bus accident case is certainly not an exception to the rule. As soon as you’re able, document every aspect of the accident and the injuries sustained. Take photographs, get witness details, and record information about the incident.
- Ensure the Accident is Properly Reported: Reporting the accident is a critical step. In Alabama, bus companies are required to report significant accidents to the proper transportation regulators. To make sure that everything is done the right way, be sure that your injuries are reported.
- Speak to an Attorney Before any Insurance Adjuster: You cannot rely on a public bus system, a private bus company, or any insurance provider to protect your best interests. After an accident, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Birmingham, AL, bus accident attorney before you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bus Accident?
Alabama is an at-fault state for motor vehicle collisions. That standard applies to the full range of crashes, including bus accident claims. In other words, this means that the party deemed at fault for a bus accident can be held legally responsible for the resulting damages. A number of different parties may be liable for a bus accident in Birmingham or elsewhere in Jefferson County, including:
- The Bus Driver: If the accident was caused due to the driver’s negligence—speeding, traffic violations, distracted driving, etc—the driver can be held responsible. As a general rule, the bus driver’s employer bears the responsibility in these cases.
- The Bus Company: The company operating the bus can be held liable if the accident resulted from factors like inadequate driver training, improper bus maintenance, or the hiring of unqualified personnel.
- The Bus Manufacturer: In cases where a defect in the bus or its components contributed to the accident, the bus manufacturer could be the party that is legally responsible for the incident. A claim against a bus manufacturer or any bus parts falls under product liability law. Strict liability against a manufacturer may apply. Notably, these are complex cases.
- Other Motorists: If any other motorist’s negligence caused the bus accident, that driver could be liable for the damages. In some cases, other third parties—including commercial trucking companies—bear legal responsibility for a bus accident.
What to Know About the Special Regulations for Public Bus Accident Claims in Alabama
Were you hurt while on a Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority bus or other publicly operated bus in Alabama? If so, it is imperative that you understand that there are specialized procedural rules and regulations that apply to your case. Public bus accident injury claims can be more complicated. Here is the challenge: The government has sovereign immunity. State and municipal entities are protected against certain types of lawsuits. There is good news: Alabama law allows for bus accident injury claims to be brought against publicly owned and operated entities through the Alabama Board of Adjustment. Here are three key things to know about these cases:
- There are Strict Notice Requirements: Bus accident victims must adhere to strict notice requirements when filing a claim against a government body. In Alabama, you typically have six months from the date of the accident to file a formal written notice of the claim. Be proactive: Speak to a Birmingham bus accident lawyer right away after an incident.
- Damage Cap Limits Total Value of Claim Against Government: Alabama law limits the amount that a government entity can be held liable for through a bus accident injury claim. The limit may be $100,000 for a bodily injury claim. Of course, each case involves its own unique set of facts and circumstances. Even after an injury on a public bus, you may still have a claim for additional compensation, potentially against a private party or insurer.
- You Need an Attorney Who Knows the Law: Following an injury on a public bus in Alabama, it is imperative that you have an attorney who knows the law and the legal process. Do not make assumptions about your case: Your Birmingham bus accident lawyer can review the situation and help you take action to maximize your recovery.
Contact Our Birmingham, AL, Bus Accident Attorney
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Alabama bus accident lawyer goes above and beyond to get justice for our clients. If you or your loved one was hurt in a public bus accident or a private bus accident, we can help. Our law firm is devoted to putting the rights of injured victims first. Reach out to us by calling 205-896-6410 or connect with our team online to arrange your free, no-obligation initial appointment. From our Birmingham office, we handle bus accident cases all across Alabama.