Seattle Bus Accident Lawyers
Millions of American ride buses every day to work, to school, or to run errands. Many Americans also use buses to travel across country or take organized tours. But, what if you are injured while riding on a bus? If you’ve been hurt or you lost a loved one in a bus crash, it's vital that you take immediate legal action. The deadline for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim in Washington State is generally only three years. However, a tort claim may be necessary if the lawsuit is against a city, state, or other governmental entity. This could decrease the time for commencing a civil cause of action. Other factors could limit or expand the time to start a lawsuit. To file a successful claim, it is important to have a skilled attorney who has handled bus collisions before.
The Seattle auto accident lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., have been successfully representing Seattle-area injury victims and their families for over four decades. Our experience gives us an edge against powerful transit corporations and insurance companies. Bus accidents are complicated, but we can make your recovery simpler. Get help from a top Seattle accident lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., today.
To schedule a free one-on-one consultation, dial (888) 228-3860.
Determining fault in a bus accident can be extremely complicated, and there may be multiple contributing parties. Our knowledgeable attorneys can investigate the accident and identify the liable party, which could include any of the following:
- The bus driver: It's common to want to blame the driver – any driver – when an accident occurs. Bus drivers are not immune to errors while operating a vehicle, and if the accident was caused by an improper lane change or because the bus was following another vehicle too closely and rear-ended it, the driver of the bus would be to blame. This might seem like a fairly straightforward case, but the bus driver is not operating his or her own vehicle, and doesn’t have personal insurance for the bus. Instead, the public bus company will have its own insurance. In Washington, those companies are the Washington State Transit Association (WSTA) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). This makes it more complicated to file a claim, as filing an accident claim against a government entity has tighter deadlines and more paperwork than filing a claim against a private individual’s insurance policy.
- The bus company: WSTA and WSDOT are not the only companies that run buses. You may have been hurt by a school bus, a charter bus, or a tour bus; and in all these cases, the bus company could be at fault. Bus companies have a duty of care to ensure that their buses are safe for all passengers. If the bus was overloaded with passengers and luggage, or if the vehicle was improperly maintained, these conditions could cause an accident while the bus is on the road, and the bus company is certainly responsible for them. If the bus company didn’t properly vet its drivers, or if it hired a driver with a history of drunk driving, the bus company can also be held responsible. Bus companies typically have insurance that covers all passengers on the bus. If the bus company is proven to be at fault, this insurance will give you the compensation you deserve with the help of a Seattle bus collision attorney.
- A negligent driver: Sometimes the bus was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it’s neither the fault of the bus driver nor the bus company, but the fault of another driver. In these cases, the bus might have partial insurance that will protect the passengers on board, but the at-fault driver of the other car may also be sued for the victims’ compensation.
- The bus manufacturer: Maybe a tire rips and flies off the bus, or perhaps the brakes weren’t properly maintained and they fail, causing a wreck. If something goes wrong with the bus, and it’s because the bus manufacturer did not properly install or manufacture the vehicle parts, the bus manufacturer is to blame. Bus manufacturers are typically large organizations with large teams of lawyers who know how to get out of paying money, so it can be very difficult for victims to get compensation without a legal team of their own to fight back.
While there are many reasons behind bus accidents, often, human error is at the heart of the matter. Trained bus drivers have been known to make major mistakes on the road, leading to a serious crash. Because they are in charge of the safety of so many people, their errors are more likely to result in numerous injuries. Some common mistakes include:
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Driving at an unsafe speed
- Not stopping at railroad crossings
- Not checking mirrors before turning/changing lanes
- Stopping or starting suddenly
Any of these actions may lead to a collision with another vehicle, or throw passengers from their seats, even if there was no collision. While some mistakes occur due to a lapse in focus or judgment, there may be other factors involved, such as:
- Health issues, such as heart problems
- Sleep apnea, which may lead to falling asleep at the wheel
- Inability to cope with distractions from passengers or devices
- Lack of training for operating the bus safely
- Inexperience on the road or with a new route
The responsibility for these conditions is shared between the bus driver and the bus company. If the company hired someone who had a history of bad driving or bad health, the company may be liable if the bus driver ends up causing an accident.
The following frequently asked questions should be able to provide some answers for you.
If you have more specific questions, or if you've been injured in a bus accident, contact a Seattle injury lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., for a free consultation. We’d be honored to help.
Under Wash. Rev. Code Ann. section 4.16.080, bus accident victims may legally pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party or parties within three years of the date of the accident or the discovery of injuries related to the accident. Failing to file before the deadline will result in a forfeiture of rights – meaning you can no longer file a claim for compensation. If an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent, was killed in a bus accident, the statute of limitations is also three years. As previously mentioned, other factors may apply to limit the time period to shorter than three years, or potentially be an exception to that rule.
That depends on your injuries and what degree of fault you had in the accident. Possible damages could include any of the following:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills resulting from the original injury (such as skin grafts, plastic surgeries, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Costs of household and vehicle modifications (such as wheelchair ramps and lifts, etc.)
- Loss of a limb
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Property damage and loss
- Lost wages from missed work
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Permanent injury or disability
- Hedonic damages (loss of joy of life)
In the unfortunate case that you've lost a loved in a bus accident, you may sue the negligent party for wrongful death damages that may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Loss of future wages
- Loss of future benefits (such as medical benefits and retirement benefits)
- Loss of love, affection, companionship, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household tasks that the deceased used to perform (such as childcare, property and vehicle maintenance, repairs, and other chores, etc.)
If you have been injured or lost a family member in a Seattle bus accident, you have options. And you don't need face the battle for rightful compensation alone. The legal team at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., will put decades of experience behind your case to help you get the settlement you deserve. We will fight tirelessly to protect your best interests while you and your family focus on healing.
Do not hesitate to call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., today at (888) 228-3860 for a free one-on-one consultation with a Washington bus accident attorney. We charge no upfront fees, and we will not take any payment unless we negotiate just compensation for you.
Call us for a free consultation(888) 228-3860
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