What do you really deserve in compensation after a bus accident?
Broadly speaking, the types of losses that you can seek to remedy fall into two wide categories. The first, economic damages, represents actual money amounts that can be calculated fairly easily. Among the economic losses you may deal with after a bus crash are:
- Medical bills of all sorts
- Wages you lost while you were home or in the hospital recovering from your injuries
- Permanent loss of wage-earning capability
- Occupational or physical therapy costs
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses of various sorts (for example, the cost to buy a wheelchair ramp for your home’s front entrance, or the cost to hire a taxi to take you shopping while you are unable to drive)
The other category of loss is noneconomic damages, which are true losses that cannot be easily quantified. If your case goes to trial, the jury or judge would be required to estimate a dollar value for the life changes caused by the accident. Your lawyer and the attorney for the other side would negotiate a value if your case settles out of court. Included in noneconomic losses are such things as:
- * Permanent disfigurement, such as scars or amputated limbs
- * Permanent disability, such as partial or total inability to walk
- * Pain and suffering experienced during the accident, recovery period, treatment, and for the rest of your life
- * Psychological trauma from the experience
- * Lost or delayed life experiences (for example, the need to postpone education plans while recovering from your injuries, or the lost chance to participate in a family reunion or wedding that could not be rescheduled)
- * Lost or changed relationships with family and friends, including diminished opportunities for sexual relations (often called “loss of consortium”)
- * Death
The key to a full recovery for all categories of your losses after a severe bus accident is keeping track of the details. In our experience, the person who is most likely to drop the ball and lose a bus accident case is the injury victim herself.
You can be your own best enemy
Of course, nobody sets out deliberately to destroy her own bus accident injury claim. Rather, its a combination of three factors—the chaos of the situation, ignorance of victims’ rights, and pressure to get everything resolved quickly—that can easily make the injury victim make dramatically unwise decisions about her case.
The chaos after the bus accident is probably unavoidable. The accident scene itself will be overrun with injury victims, emergency responders, and law enforcement investigators. The next several hours will be consumed with getting immediate medical needs addressed. If you have been injured in the accident, you can expect to be disoriented by the experience and maybe groggy from pain medication.
If you are lucid and able to function normally after the bus crash, acting to preserve your rights as a victim will be of immense help later. Without interfering with any ongoing rescue efforts, do what you can to capture evidence from the accident scene. Get contact information from passengers and street-level witnesses. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the bus, other vehicles, your own injuries, and the road conditions.
A thorough investigation by your bus accident attorney can usually make up for any omissions in preserving evidence. The greatest danger to your case comes from your own determination to wrap up your case as quickly as possible. Perhaps you get worried about mounting medical bills, so you sign a release form to get a quick (and very small) settlement from the bus company’s insurance carrier. Or maybe you agree to a recorded interview with an insurance adjuster and make statements that—taken out of context—seem to admit that your injuries are minor.
If you remember one thing from what you have read today, make sure it is this: you interact with the insurance adjuster at your peril. You are not required to speak to the adjuster at any time. Even exchanging greetings—He asks, “How are you doing?” and you say, “I’m doing okay.”—can be distorted to mean you have admitted your injuries are healed and you are now “okay.”
Or you can get a good lawyer
An experienced bus injury lawyer can act as your legal representative and handle all the interactions with the insurance companies on your behalf—without putting your case at risk. If your lawyer tells the insurance adjuster, “My client is doing okay,” that is not information that can be used in court to undermine your case.
Your bus accident attorney can investigate your case, study your medical records, and fill in the gaps to develop a compelling story for what happened. He can then demand the bus company pay you the full value of your claim—both economic and noneconomic losses—or face a courtroom trial where the damages can rise even higher.
Jon Ostroff can handle your case regardless of where you live or where the accident occurred. The bus companies know our firm by reputation, and most of our cases are settled out of court. Call us today at (888) 653-3636 or fill in the online contact form to schedule a FREE and confidential consultation about your case.