Most bus accidents are handled similarly to motor vehicle accidents, where you can file a claim for negligence and damages. Your first option in Michigan is to file a no-fault personal injury claim. Second, you can file negligence charges against the bus driver and the company to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. In addition, if a person dies, a representative can file a wrongful death claim.
Additionally, there are specific procedures and deadlines if you get injured while on a public bus. Hence, filing a public bus accident lawsuit is a challenging task. Our Newaygo personal injury attorney will walk you through the details in this article.
Legal Rights of Passengers Involved in Bus Accidents in Michigan
If you’re a bus passenger in Michigan wondering, “What happens if a bus gets in an accident?” you should be aware of your legal rights.
First, you can seek compensation from your insurance company or the bus company’s insurance provider under the Personal Injury Policy (PIP) of No-Fault insurance. Importantly, if you took a public bus operated by a transportation authority, such as the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), you must send a written notice of the accident within 60 days. If the State of Michigan operates the bus, you must file the claim at the Court of Claims within six months.
Second, if the bus accident resulted in wrongful death, the following family members of the deceased may seek damages and compensation:
- Deceased’s spouse, their children, parents, grandparents, descendants, brothers, and sisters
- The deceased’s spouse’s children
- Devisee of the deceased’s will
Third, you can sue for severe bodily harm, impairment, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. To win this case, you must demonstrate that the accident caused a “serious impairment” and meet the following requirements:
- The impairment is obvious and can be seen or observed by others.
- The impairment affected an important body part or function.
- The impairment made it difficult for the victim to live an everyday, healthy life.
If the worst happens and the insurance providers refuse to pay or the at-fault parties won’t take responsibility, you can seek the expertise of a Newaygo personal injury attorney to file the necessary lawsuits or settlements.
Types of Compensation Available to Passengers Injured in a Bus Accident
These are the top two types of compensation for which you may be eligible if you get injured in a bus accident.
1. Economic Compensation
This compensation refers to a specific cost or monetary value you or a deceased person’s family member may receive. Under the new PIP benefits, you can claim the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages for up to 3 years
- Replacement services for up to 3 years
- 56 hours per week of in-home attendant care
For wrongful death, it includes:
- Burial and funeral expenses
2. Non-Economic Compensation
Under Michigan law, you can claim compensation for non-economic damages. These damages refer to non-monetary pain and suffering caused by personal injuries, such as:
- Loss of society and companionship (for wrongful death)
- Mental anguish, fright, and shock
- Denial of social pleasure and enjoyment
- Humiliation, embarrassment
- Physical pain and suffering
- Aggravation of preexisting condition or ailment
Steps to Take If You Are Injured in a Bus Accident
So, what should you do if you are involved in a bus accident? Because likely there will be several (or many) people affected by the accident, the amount of panic and chaos may be significant. Although the event can be disorienting, it’s important to remain calm and follow these steps:
1. Call for Help
The bus driver is responsible for calling 911 in the event of a crash. If the driver cannot do so, any of the passengers should immediately make the call.
2. Seek Medical Assistance
If you are injured, remain conscious and alert while you await medical attention. No matter how minor it may seem, tell the doctor about any pain or discomfort. If you fail to seek immediate medical help, it may jeopardize your compensation claims.
Try your best to document and take photos of the scene. Keep all medical records and take notes on the pain and injuries you suffered, starting from the day of the accident and the following days.
4. Hire a Lawyer
Personnel from bus companies and insurance companies will be on the scene immediately. Make no attempts to settle or sign documents without the assistance of a lawyer.
Make Sure You’re Compensated
If you are injured in a bus accident, be prepared for a major challenge because big bus companies are likely to have big legal teams. Protect your rights and claim your benefits by hiring an experienced Newaygo personal injury attorney. Our team of skilled attorneys at Shafer Swartz PLC is always up for a challenging case to ensure you get what you’re entitled to under the law. Contact us here or call (231) 722-2444 to schedule an appointment.