Can I Sue the City if I Was Hit By a City Bus?

Many people depend on public transportation daily, including city buses. These vehicles make frequent stops, often travel hundreds of miles a day, and like all vehicles, people prone to making erroneous decisions that can impact others with whom they are sharing the road operate them.

When someone is involved in an accident with a city-owned bus, they may wonder what rights and options they have for holding the city accountable for the injury and damage they have suffered. Whether a bus hits someone operating a car or the victim is a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by a bus, the process is often complicated when holding the city accountable. You might ask yourself, “Can I sue the city if I was hit by a city bus?”

Bus Accidents Are More Common Than Many Think

Unfortunately, bus accidents occur more frequently than many of us believe. In fact, in one recent year, there were nearly 7,000 accidents across the United States involving buses and other vehicles.

Unfortunately, filing a claim against a city is not as easy as filing one against another driver who is at fault for a roadway accident. Most cities and states have specific laws that provide their employees immunity for accidents that occur on the job, except in egregious circumstances, such as the employee being intoxicated or violent on the job.

Important Steps to Take Following an Accident With a City Bus

Can I Sue the City if I Was Hit By a City BusChances are, when a city bus is involved in an accident, law enforcement will know about it immediately. However, accident victims must also file an incident report with the city to advise them they were injured. This should be done as soon after the accident as possible, preferably after a victim has sought medical attention.

Every city has different requirements for reporting accidents. However, one thing that is certain is that the time to file a report will not be as long as if the accident involved a non-city employee. Contacting the city to find out the correct process is critical to successfully pursuing compensation for injuries suffered in an accident with a city bus.

Statutes of Limitations and Claims Against a City

Every state imposes a statute of limitations which dictates how much time a victim has to file a personal injury lawsuit. While the time frames may seem generous, it is key for a victim of a city bus accident to understand that the limitations on filing a personal injury claim against a government agency are typically far less than what is acceptable in a lawsuit against a non-government party.

To ensure that the court will not bar a victim from filing a claim for the damage and injury they suffered because a city bus hit them, the victim should speak with a personal injury attorney as quickly after they were involved in an accident involving a city bus as possible.

Bus Accident Injury Statistics

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 14,000 people were injured in 7,000 bus accidents nationwide. This is a staggering number for those who travel on our roadways and share the roads with city buses. When someone suffers an injury in an accident with a bus, they could be facing medical treatment for weeks or months.

Common injuries sustained in a bus accident include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI). When a car and bus collide, drivers and passengers in the car can have their head whip back and forth. The potential for a brain injury is high. When a bus strikes a pedestrian, they have no protection, which could increase the risk of a TBI.
  • Spinal cord injury. Bus crashes can result in a spinal cord injury depending on how fast a bus is traveling when it strikes a car. When a bus strikes a pedestrian, there is also a potential for spinal cord injuries.
  • Broken bones. A city bus weighs between 25,000 and 40,000 pounds. This is no match for a car and certainly is no match for a pedestrian. Broken bones are likely for victims and may include multiple or compound fractures, which can leave victims with serious scars or require surgery.
  • Internal injuries. Soft tissue damage, organ damage, muscle or tendon damage, and damage to joints and ligaments are common in bus accidents. Victims can suffer weeks of pain or life-threatening internal bleeding due to these injuries.

Chances are, when someone is involved in a bus accident, they will suffer an injury, even when the bus travels at slower speeds. Victims may not be fully aware of their injuries for days or weeks after being hit by a city bus

Proving Liability in a City Bus Accident

One of the most major aspects of any personal injury claim after an accident is establishing liability for the accident. This means identifying the party who was at fault. In the case of a city bus accident, before the victim can file a suit against the city, they must establish liability.

They can accomplish this through:

  • Witness statements. A bus accident attorney will interview anyone who witnessed the accident to determine what occurred just before impact. This may help establish liability.
  • Police reports. Because it is common for police to be called to the scene anytime a bus accident occurs, the report may define who they believe was at fault for the accident. This report can be invaluable to a personal injury attorney with experience handling bus accident claims.
  • Traffic cameras. Traffic cameras can provide invaluable information, but only if the victim retrieves them promptly. Oftentimes the data on these cameras is only held for a short time. If cameras were near an accident, the victim should advise their lawyer immediately.
  • Black box data from the bus. Depending on the age of the bus, there may be a system wherein there is data available from the bus which recorded the accident. The victim must retrieve this data as quickly as possible after an accident.

Remember, the city will also have this information available to them. They will use any tool to prove they are not accountable for the accident when someone suffered an injury after being struck by a city bus.

Bus Accidents and Potential Types of Payments

When a city bus strikes someone, the victim of an accident has the right to seek reimbursement for their losses, just as they would after any accident.

Some remuneration a victim may pursue include:

  • Medical and rehab expenses. Depending on the severity of someone’s injuries, the medical and rehabilitation costs can be significant after being struck by a city bus. Any charges paid out of the victim’s pocket may be compensable.
  • Home modification charges. When someone suffers a significant injury, they may need to modify their home to navigate the home safely during recovery. These fees, including safety bars, ramps, and other modifications, should not burden the victim. Instead, the city should be held liable for these payments.
  • Lost wages and benefits. The more grave an injury, the longer a victim will be forced to stay out of work. During this time, the victim may be collecting compensation such as disability. However, the amount a victim may collect could fall well short of their normal wages and benefits. An attorney can help the victim calculate their actual losses.
  • Property damage. Car accident victims will have to pay for repairs for their car or to replace their car, depending on the severity of the accident. When a victim has collision coverage, there still may be a significant deductible which the city may be liable for. When a bus strikes a pedestrian, they may have damage to their clothing, but they could also suffer other property damage, including laptops, tablets, or cell phones, which they were carrying when struck.

Anyone involved in an accident with a city bus should consult with an accident injury attorney who has experience handling these types of claims. The claims process in these cases is complicated and must be handled efficiently because of the deadlines involved.

Hiring a Lawyer Following a City Bus Accident

Every state has city buses. Some have far more than others, but even small states have some limited bus routes. While people may be reluctant to hire an attorney following a city bus accident, hiring an experienced lawyer is necessary.

Some reasons for hiring a bus accident lawyer include:

  • Having an advocate. While some people say it is impossible to fight city hall, it is possible to sue a city to recover damages after an accident. Victims need someone to advocate on their behalf after a city bus accident so they are not taken advantage of and are fully aware of their rights.
  • Gathering evidence. It is much easier for an attorney with more power to obtain specific information from city officials to gather evidence than a non-lawyer. Gathering evidence that helps establish liability is vital to a successful claim against the city.
  • Investigating the accident. An experienced city bus accident lawyer can investigate the accident which resulted in an injury. They have the necessary resources, including expert witnesses when appropriate.
  • Ability to file lawsuits. An attorney will be fully prepared to file a lawsuit if negotiations with the city break down following a city bus accident. While a victim may turn to an attorney after an unsuccessful negotiation, this could jeopardize their ability to file a claim if the statute of limitations has expired.

No accident victim should have to deal with an insurance claim while focusing on recovering from an accident. By hiring a city bus accident lawyer, the victim can focus on their recovery, knowing someone with the skills necessary to carry out a negotiation is working on their claim.

Common Myths About Lawyers and City Bus Accident Claims

Andrew Finkelstein Attorney for Motorcycle Accident

Andrew Finkelstein, Personal Injury Lawyer 

Some potential reasons why a city bus accident victim fails to engage a personal injury lawyer to help them is because of myths about lawyers and how they handle accident claims.

Some of the most common myths include:

  • The victim loses the right to have a say. This is a false assumption. When someone hires an attorney to handle a city bus accident claim, the victim controls the settlement. An attorney must inform their client of any offer the other party has made. A lawyer will advise their client of the pros and cons of an offer, but the final decision is always up to the victim.
  • Lawyers slow down the process. This is another myth often perpetuated by insurance companies. The fact is that a lawyer is interested in resolving every case as expeditiously as possible.
  • Lawyers cost too much. A lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis in nearly all personal injury cases. This means once a client has consulted an attorney using a free consultation, the lawyer may agree to take their case and accept legal fees only when and if they win the victim’s case and have obtained compensation.

Any person involved in an accident with a city bus is likely to have questions about what steps they should take and what legal options they have available to them. The best way to know the answers to these questions is to contact a bus accident attorney as soon as possible.