Bus Accident Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Buses are some of the biggest vehicles on our roads today. With gross weights approaching 40,000 pounds, buses require stronger engines to accelerate and stronger brakes to decelerate. Because of their increased size buses require a far greater amount of space to maneuver turns, and this added size also makes it all too easy for a bus driver’s sight-lines to be limited.
With their added size and limited visibility, it’s no surprise that buses are involved in a large number of traffic accidents on our roads today. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that three states were responsible for 30% of accidents involving buses and trucks, resulting in over 2,700 deaths, over 60,000 injuries, and involving over 122,000 vehicles.
Florida is ranked third for having the most bus accidents in the U.S. There were over 200 deaths resulting from over 180 crashes, and over 3,800 people were injured. In addition to property damage, these crashes caused serious injuries requiring immediate and long-term medical care.
If you were involved in an accident with a bus a bus accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help get you compensation. From injuries to property damage, bus accidents can cause serious harm and require costly medical care. A bus accident attorney understands that these costs can be burdensome, and will work hard to ensure that the responsible party covers these costs. Call today for a consultation.
Why Are Bus Accidents So Different From Other Accidents?
Unlike other vehicles, buses are designed primarily to carry large numbers of people. To protect these passengers, Florida requires bus drivers to have an additional commercial driver’s license, also known as a CDL. This type of license allows a driver to operate vehicles weighing 26,0001 pounds or more.
In order for a bus operator to receive a CDL license, they are required to pass both:
- A knowledge test
- A skills test
A knowledge test includes general knowledge about the vehicle they will be operating, how to test the air brake system, and a written exam. The skills test includes a vehicle inspection, basic control of the vehicle, and an on-road exam. If the driver fails to pass these tests, they are denied a CDL license and are unable to operate a bus.
Florida also requires a special endorsement for drivers who operate certain types of vehicles. School bus operators, in particular, require an ‘S’ designation on their license. This allows them to transport primary, pre-primary, and secondary school students to school and back or to school events. To receive the ‘S’ designation, a school bus driver would also need to receive a ‘P’ designation for passengers, which allows a driver to operate any vehicle which carries 15 or more passengers, including the driver.
Determining if a driver was properly licensed at the time of a crash could be an important issue. Some CDL drivers may not be aware that school buses, for example, require an additional endorsement, and without the endorsement are forbidden from operating that type of vehicle. It is important to exchange license information with the bus driver following an accident to determine which license they possess at the time the accident occurred.
Following an accident with a bus in Fort Lauderdale, a bus accident attorney can help. If you were unable to exchange license information an attorney may be able to get this information from the driver and may be able to use this information to help negotiate compensation from their insurance carrier or file a lawsuit. Speaking with the Fort Lauderdale bus accident attorneys at Schlacter Law today can be the difference between getting compensated and not receiving anything for your injuries.
What to do Following an Accident with a Bus in Fort Lauderdale
Buses are extremely large vehicles. In addition to their size, they generally ride higher than most non-commercial vehicles. This can make it very hard for a bus driver to see other vehicles on the road. This is particularly a problem when a bus makes a turn since its driving radius requires far more space to clear objects in its path while turning.
Due to a bus’s limitations on visibility, and requiring additional space to turn, it is important that other vehicles give them additional space to maneuver. If an accident occurs, be sure to take note of how the crash happened. Did the bus make a turn that was too wide for the road? Did the driver fail to see your vehicle and make the turn anyway? Was the bus switching lanes and cut off another vehicle? This information is important to help determine who was at fault.
Immediately following an accident be sure to seek medical attention if necessary. Even if injuries appear minor, something that appears small at first could develop into a serious medical issue. If you choose not to seek medical assistance at a hospital, be sure to follow up with your primary care physician within 1-2 days to ensure that any injuries do not worsen.
Even if an ambulance is not required, a call to 911 should be made. Once a call is made, an ambulance, the police, or both, will be dispatched to the scene of the accident. Having the Fort Lauderdale police at the scene of the crash can be useful since they can take down an incident report and interview any witnesses. This information may be useful for an attorney later on when talking with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit.
After calling 911, be sure to get as much information from the bus driver as possible. This includes:
- The name of the driver
- The driver’s license number
- The driver’s address
- Any insurance information
If you have a cell phone, be sure to take a photograph of any documents given to you by the other driver. After exchanging information, a cell phone can be used to photograph the damage done to both vehicles. Be sure to photograph both damaged and undamaged areas, and if possible, photograph the bus’s license plate number.
Hopefully, at this point, an ambulance or the police have arrived at the scene. A Fort Lauderdale police officer will typically interview each driver for their impression of how the crash happened. Be sure not to admit any fault, and simply give the facts as you know them. If the officer is interviewing the bus driver, now is a good time to record any recollections you have of the accident. This might include:
- The weather conditions
- Any signs or traffic signals present when the accident occurred
- Any witnesses to the accident
- The number of passengers on the bus
Be sure to write down anything you can remember. Again, your cell phone is a helpful tool for recording this information. The more time that passes after the accident, the more likely you are to forget important details. By recording this information now you’ll be more likely to remember it later. This information may also be useful for a bus accident attorney later in the process.
Before leaving the scene of the accident be sure to inspect your vehicle to ensure that it is safe to operate. If it isn’t, don’t continue to drive it and find a Fort Lauderdale tow service to bring your vehicle to a repair facility.
A Fort Lauderdale bus accident attorney can help you deal with both your insurance company and the bus driver’s insurance company. When it comes time for settlement, insurance companies will work hard to protect their bottom line, and not necessarily give you as much compensation as possible. A bus accident attorney will work with your best interests in mind by negotiating with insurance companies for the true costs of the accident. Even if you were partially at fault, some compensation might still be possible. Speak with the bus injury lawyers at Schlacter Law today so we can evaluate the circumstances of your situation.
The Types of Compensation Available
Following an accident with a bus, there are three general types of compensation available to a victim. These include:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
Economic damages are the costs associated with the accident that are easiest to calculate. This might include the costs required to fix a vehicle after an accident, as well as medical costs and lost wages because a victim is unable to work due to an injury. It is important to keep any records and receipts of these costs so that an attorney can use these figures to determine the true economic damages from the accident.
Non-economic damages are the types of damages that are far more difficult to calculate since they do not have a known dollar value associated with them. This might include the pain and suffering caused by the accident, as well as any emotional stress. Additionally, some injuries are so egregious that it is difficult to calculate how much compensation is required to make the victim whole. This might include permanent scarring, amputations, blindness, and spinal cord injuries. These types of injuries often require long-term medical care and those costs might continue for years or decades.
Punitive damages are used to punish a defendant for wanton or reckless behavior. The purpose of punitive damages is to prevent the defendant from repeating the reckless behavior that led to the accident. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in most cases, and when they are, Florida Statutes, §765.73 limits damages to the greater of three times the value of economic and non-economic damages, or $500,000.
Calculating damages following a bus accident is a complicated process, requiring an attorney to determine both known and unknown costs and present that to either an insurance company or a jury in a lawsuit. Having experience with these types of cases helps in knowing the outcomes of prior cases, and being better able to estimate how much an injury will cost going forward. If you were involved in an accident with a bus, call a Fort Lauderdale bus attorney today. The bus accident attorneys at Schlacter Law will work hard to ensure that you get as much compensation as possible and will fight hard to help you get back to how you were before the accident.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time do I have to file a claim?
Florida does place a time limit on how long a claimant has to file a lawsuit. This statute of limitations is four years for personal injury cases involving negligence. A lawsuit needs to be filed within four years from the date of the accident. If a claimant fails to file within this time frame a case might be dismissed and no compensation would be available. While there are some reasons a court may extend the statute of limitations these circumstances are rare. It is important to talk with a Fort Lauderdale lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that this important deadline is adhered to.
How do I afford an attorney?
For personal injury negligence cases, Schlacter Law will typically get paid through a contingency fee. This payment arrangement compensates the lawyer for their work after they successfully win any money on your behalf. This fee typically varies between 33.33% and 40%. Fortunately, this payment arrangement allows you to initiate a claim without having to pay anything right away.
What is the average amount of money I can expect to receive?
Because each case has its own unique circumstances it is extremely difficult to estimate how much money each claim is worth without establishing the severity of the accident and the extent of your injuries. Compensation could include various damages, including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and the value of pain and suffering. Call us today for an evaluation.