The moment you or your loved one boards a passenger bus, you place your trust not only in the driver but also in authority to keep you safe. You could also choose to use your vehicle to commute to work or pick your children from school. If your bus driver violates this trust, they could cause an accident where you incur injuries and damages. When driving your car, you could also suffer injuries because of a bus driver’s negligence.
Medical bills, service bills, and loss of capacity to earn income in the future follow after sustaining a severe injury in a bus accident. All this burden needs funding, whether from your insurer, your pocket, or the bus company’s insurer. Before receiving any compensation in court when you file a claim, you need to prove that the bus driver was at fault. Also, you need to prove that you sustained injuries and damages following the bus accident.
We at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney bear the burden of gathering the required evidence in bus accident cases to allow our clients to recuperate and focus on getting back on their feet. We have a deep understanding of the personal injury law in California, thanks to the extensive experience we possess. Our attorneys could help with gathering evidence like photographs of the scene, interviews of witnesses, the driver's, and bus details, among other pieces of evidence.
Types of Automobiles the State Recognizes as Buses
California law considers buses as common carriers. The buses are expected to uphold the utmost standards of care than typical sedans as they carry many passengers at a go, and they have enormous weight. Common bus types are:
- School buses
- Feeder buses
- Government (county, state, federal) funded buses
- Mobile trailers or homes
- Larger vans
- City buses
- Commuter buses
- Long-haul and intercity buses
Steps to Take After A Bus Accident
Even though you deserve compensation for harm and damage caused to you in a bus accident, you cannot get it before you can offer credible evidence in court against the at-fault parties. After the crash, the steps you take next lowers or raises the probability of receiving compensation. Below are measures recommended to take in the event of a bus accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Seeking immediate treatment after a bus accident is imperative for two reasons:
- Your Health Comes First. You need healthcare personnel to check you for both external and internal injuries, then offer the needed treatment. Remember that even if you look okay after an accident, underlying injuries could crop up later
- You Need Evidence of Injuries. Your medical assessment after a bus accident can help link your injury to the crash. Your personal injury lawyer could present the medical reports in court to prove that the driver’s negligence caused harm to you
Call 911 and Report the Accident
After a bus accident, the odds are that the bus driver contacts the police officers or their immediate bosses. However, if the police do not make it to the scene in a short while, you could take the initiative to ring them. After the police show up at the scene, you need to choose your words wisely, not to incriminate yourself. It is advisable to speak to your lawyer before telling the police anything.
Call Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Gathering evidence and winning in a bus accident suit is hard without the help of a lawyer. Avoid incriminating yourself by calling your attorney immediately after the bus accident. They will help protect your legal rights and see to it that you receive compensation for your injuries and economic/ non-economic damages.
Pieces of Evidence You Can Collect After A Bus Accident
Loss, pain, and grieve are what you experience after incurring injuries and damages following the negligence and carelessness of a bus driver. When filing a lawsuit against the driver, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were at fault and caused harm to you. Prove liability of the bus accident using evidence such as:
Data from The Electronic Onboard Recording Devices (EOBRs)
Commercial vehicles like buses have EOBRs installed to record functions of the auto’s systems per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) directives. For example, engine controls, braking control systems, and many other vehicle systems. When an accident occurs, the recording devices, also known as electronic logging devices (ELDs), capture the information, which comes in handy to ascertain what malfunction, if any, caused the accident.
You need the data from the onboard systems to use as evidence in court. The data should reveal the exact bus location, brake application, the direction to which the bus was moving, throttle position, and many other functions needed to determine the cause of the accident.
In case you are hospitalized due to severe injuries, your injury attorney should move swiftly to retrieve a download of the EOBRs data. This is because the current information gets deleted when a new one is captured. If need be, the lawyer can request the court to cease the bus’s operation until the data download is released.
Official Driver Information Required as Evidence
The investigating officers and lawyers alike require drivers’ records for investigation and determining fault after a bus accident. These records include:
Bus Driver’s Log Book. Per directions from the FMCSA, bus companies or owners should update the driver’s logbook with hours of service. The information recorded in the logbooks includes the exact time the driver was operating the bus, location of stops, and times of rest. The logbook should also document if they had a co-driver and when they switched driving positions within the last 24 hours.
Qualifications of The Driver. The bus owner or company should keep a file that captures the drivers’ information per the FMCSA guidelines. This information must show:
- The drivers’ qualifications
- The drivers’ employment application
- Review of the drivers’ driving records for each year
- Inquiries that the present employers of the drivers made to previous ones within the last three years
- Certification of traffic violations for every year
- Certifications of road tests
- Most recent medical reports to determine the current drivers’ physical state
The law requires the owner of the bus that caused an accident to produce the driver’s qualification file upon your lawyer’s or an investigating officer’s request.
Training File of the Driver. Like the qualification file, a training file consists of documents and certificates that show the driver’s achievements or specialized driving records. Your lawyer could ask for this file to ascertain that the bus driver who was involved in the accident had the required training and experience.
Alcohol and Drug Tests. It is illegal for bus drivers to drive buses under the influence or with over 0.02 BAC in California. The law requires employers to facilitate alcohol and drug tests of their drivers and keep the results for about five years. The drivers should keep results of alcohol tests reading less than 0.02 BAC and negative drug tests. California law also requires drivers to retain any file that shows reasonable suspicion testing, random selections, and medical assessments for shy bladder and lung conditions. If a particular bus driver is involved in an accident, your lawyers could request for the documentation to find out the driver’s history with drug and substance abuse. The information that your attorney could use as evidence against the bus driver include:
- Results of positive controlled substances
- Test results of over 0.02 BAC
- Professional evaluation reports showing the driver’s substance abuse cases
- Refusals to take drug tests
Inspection and Maintenance Records
Like other commercial vehicles, buses are required to get inspected per the authority’s guidelines. The drivers are issued with inspection records to confirm the completion of inspections. Various bus systems that get inspected are:
- The steering mechanism
- Tires, rims, and wheels
- Braking fluid and systems
- Lighting systems and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rearview mirrors
- Emergency kit and safety equipment
The driver or the bus owner should also keep a record of maintenance and repairs done on the bus. In case of an accident, this information could be handy to determine if a prior repair was a contributing factor to the accident. At times, mechanics tamper with some bus functions, and unknowingly, the driver gets involved in an accident following poor maintenance.
Results from An Accident Reconstruction Expert
Another evidence you could use against a bus company or driver for your injury is the speed on all cars involved in the accident. This means you should know the speed at which the bus was traveling during the accident, not forgetting your vehicle speed. An accident reconstruction expert is needed to measure the crash and determine the speeds during the crash. If you are hospitalized right after the accident, your lawyer can get court orders to stop the bus company or insurance firm from salvaging or repairing the bus before the expert can determine the speeds.
Evidence by Taking Photographs
For a long time, visual content has served as indisputable evidence when making claims against another party. This is because images and videos record the actual actions someone does in real-time. Accident experts recommend taking photographs of an accident scene as soon as possible. There are aspects of the accident you cannot miss photographing, and these are:
- Skid Marks. Photograph skid marks after the bus accident, if possible. The imagery could serve as essential evidence in court or when making claims
- Road Signs. If there are any road and safety signs near the scenes, don’t forget to take pictures of these. Road signs could be handy, especially where the bus driver was moving past the indicated speed limit
- Vehicles in the Scene. If you can, take images of every other vehicle that got involved in the road crash. Accident experts use these images to determine whether the bus driver was at fault. Speaking of your car, take images of the damage done on it and other property in the interior. For example, your laptop, which could break following the accident’s impact
- Injuries That You Incur Following the Accident. If your injuries are visible and you can operate your phone comfortably, it is recommendable that you take images of your injuries before the medics arrive at the scene. Taking pictures of your injuries helps you prove that your injuries were not incurred before the accident, not even after the accident had occurred, but upon it
A point to note! If possible, always take images from various angles and perspectives. Wide-angle shots can help show the entire scene and close up can show in detail the extent of damage done on your vehicle.
Surveillance Videos from Nearby Businesses
Today’s technology advancements have enabled businesses to install security cameras outside the premises. These cameras could record whatever happens within the vicinity. If the bus accident occurs near such premises, write down their addresses or take pictures of the surveillance camera. Your lawyer could help retrieve the recordings legally and use them as evidence when making claims against the bus driver.
Cell Phone Data
Using mobile phones and other handheld devices while driving is a leading cause of road accidents. To prove that the bus driver acted negligently by using their cell phone while operating the bus, your lawyer can push the relevant telecommunication company to retrieve call- or texting-history at the time of the crash.
Adding witness testimonies in your lawsuit is half of your lawsuit’s success. You can easily transform your weak case into a solid one if you have witnesses testifying against the bus driver. People you could approach to appear in court as witnesses include owners of premises, employees of businesses, or bystanders who saw the accident happen. You need to gather their contacts at the accident scene as your lawyer could want to contact them.
Images of Injuries You Incur
If your injuries are not severe to the extent that you cannot move, for example, your limbs, it is advisable that you take high-quality images of your injuries. You don’t need access to a pricey camera. A decent camera phone can do the job. Remember not to wash the clothes you wore during the accident. Take images of them and keep them with all the dirt and blood. These could serve as vital evidence in court in case a witness describes the clothes you wore on the accident date.
How to Preserve Evidence of the Bus Accident
Time is not just of the essence but an enemy after a crash. You, together with your lawyer, need to preserve evidence from the bus accident scene ASAP. You have many ways to get the evidence and safeguard it, for example:
Getting Copies of Photos and Videos from an Intersection Camera
Gaining access to images and videos from an intersection camera takes a reputable attorney who understands better the retrieval process. Also, the lawyer should know how to use recordings in court. Settlement negotiations are not open-and-shut cases. Lawyers from the driver’s and insurer side could refute all other available evidence, but with recordings that are state-controlled, you have the edge over the defendant in your claims.
Requesting for Duplicates of Hospital Reports and Receipts
Request and keep all doctor reports connected to your accident save. Copies of receipts could help show the costs you incur during your treatment. These receipts and report copies serve as evidence of injuries you incur when making claims. Examples of copies you should obtain include:
- Diagnosis report
- X-ray results
- MRI results
- Images that the healthcare experts take
- Discharge instructions
Getting Copies of Police Reports
Police officers make official reports when they come to the accident scene. If the bus accident occurs in a remote location, the odds are that the cops don't show up at the scene. All that is needed is filing a report at the nearest police station. After reporting the accident, investigators take up the case and make inquiries. Your attorney could ask for copies of police reports and use them to make claims in court.
Obtain Recordings of Calls to 911
If the bus driver made a call to the police, the call recording could reveal what happened after the crash. The recording could help determine if the driver was driving while drunk from listening to the voice, for instance, talking in blurred speech. Also, the driver could have admitted liability during their frantic call to 911. You need to obtain the 911 call as the recordings are preserved, not for a long time. If you are still recuperating, your accident attorney could retrieve the call on your behalf.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a bus accident, your goal is to recover from injuries and reinstate your life. It is hard to receive compensation when hospitalized. So, you need a competent personal injury attorney to help with evidence gathering. By thorough investigations, top-notch analysis, and in-depth fact-finding, our award-winning attorneys get a quick start on your lawsuit and help you throughout the lawsuit.
Our personal injury lawyers target potential at-fault parties and employ aggressive discovery and deposition techniques to reveal the truth, retrieve vital documents and clips, and hold at-fault parties liable. Also, we have an in-depth knowledge of California law, how it applies, and the internal functions of the State, Federal, and County laws, ordinances, and guidelines that govern buses and the highways. Get help from the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney today at 424-231-2013.