There are a range of scenarios in which passengers on a bus, car drivers in a crash with a bus or other road users may be eligible to make bus accident claims for compensation when they have suffered an injury in an accident for which they were not to blame on, or with, a bus.
This article provides a general look at what steps you should take after you have been injured in a bus accident to support a compensation claim after bus accidents, but is no substitute for seeking independent legal advice from a personal injury solicitor.
Bus Accidents: Injuries to Passengers
It is relatively unusual for passengers to be more than innocent parties in bus accidents, and claims for injuries to passengers in bus accidents will either be made against the bus company — if the driver of the bus has been at fault for an injury due to careless driving — or another road user, if the driver of another vehicle has been responsible for a bus accident due to his or her own lack of care.
If there is a supposed advantage to being injured as a passenger in a bus accident it is that there will normally be a number of witnesses who were also injured in the same incident, and who will be able to support bus accident claims for compensation. Indeed, as a departure from the normal procedures of gathering contact details of those who have been responsible for causing your injury, it is often advantageous when making claims for injuries to passengers in bus accidents to have also exchanged contact details with fellow passengers who have been injured in the same incident.
Bus Accidents: Injuries to Car Drivers
Car drivers should manage the procedures after an accident with a bus in the same way as they would a traffic accident with any other vehicle. However, in addition to swapping contact and insurance details, car drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and any other road user who has suffered an injury in an accident with a bus should also make an independent record of the date and time of the accident, together with the name of the bus company, the route number, and the bus registration.
On no account should you have placed yourself at additional risk of injury in order to take photographs of the accident scene, swap personal information or collect the contact details of witnesses to your accident. In cases of serious injury, this should have been left to the Gardai to manage; while, even when less significant injuries have been suffered, your main priority should have been to seek medical attention for yourself and any passengers travelling with you.
Bus Accidents: Prioritising Medical Treatment
While it would seem ideal to gather evidence of negligence in support of a compensation claim after bus accidents straight after accidents have occurred, the opposite could in fact be true. If you have made your injuries worse by your own lack of care, how much compensation for an injury in a bus accident you are entitled to may be decreased to reflect your own contributory negligence.
No amount of compensation for an injury in a bus accident will make up for a permanent physical incapacity which could have been avoided had you waited for the Gardai and an ambulance to arrive at the scene. Even if you suffered a comparatively minor injury for which an ambulance was not summoned, a hospital examination or visit to your family doctor will have ensured that any injuries you suffered were professionally diagnosed and tended to, and — importantly in support of bus accidents claims — recorded in your medical history.
Bus Accident: Claiming Compensation for an Injury
Bus accidents claims are made against the bus company charged with running the route and not against the bus driver personally — even when the Gardai bring criminal charges against the bus driver. An application for assessment (Form A) is sent to the Injuries Board Ireland, along with your doctor´s medical assessment (Form B) and any receipts for costs you have incurred or proof of loss of income.
The Injuries Board will contact the bus company, requesting their consent to proceed with the assessment of your injuries and, once that consent is received, may ask that you have a further medical examination to measure the current extent of your injury and how well it is healing. If you are claiming compensation for psychological trauma because of the nature of the bus accident, you may also be asked to undergo a psychiatric examination.
Bus Accidents Compensation: How Much is My Claim Worth?
Each compensation claim for bus accidents is assessed on its individual merits according to the nature, severity and extent of the injuries you have experienced. Compensation for your injuries is calculated according to the values published in the Book of Quantum, and then altered to account for your age, general state of health prior to the bus accident and — in some cases — your sex.
However, even when two passengers in a bus accident suffer the same injuries, how much each claim for bus accidents compensation is worth can vary because of the way in which the injuries respectively affect the plaintiff´s general quality of life. This element of bus accidents claims for compensation is referred to as “loss of amenity” and relates to any day-to-day activities you may be unable to carry out, any leisure pastimes you are unable to take part in or any social events you are unable to attend because of your injury.
Bus Accidents Claims: Court Action
Should the negligent party in your bus accidents claim not provide their consent for the Injuries Board to assess your application, or the Injuries Board assessment is less than you anticipated — or more than the negligent party´s insurance company is prepared to pay — you will have to resolve your bus accidents claim for compensation through the court system or by direct negotiation with the insurance company.
In order to start court action, the Injuries Board will issue you with an “Authorisation” once they have been formally informed that consent has been withheld or their assessment rejected. One of the reasons why solicitors tell their clients to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board even when direct negotiations are taking place is that, should negotiations break down, you will need this ”Authorisation” to obtain a satisfactory conclusion to your bus accidents claim for compensation.
Bus Accidents Claims: What About Insurance Companies?
It is not recommended that you try to seek a settlement of compensation for an injury in a bus accident directly with an insurance company without professional legal help. In a lot of cases after a bus accident — especially when a number of passengers have been injured — the bus company´s insurers or those of the negligent driver responsible for causing the accident may make a direct unsolicited approach with an offer of compensation for an injury in a bus accident which, at the time, might seem tempting but which should always be referred to a solicitor.
Insurance companies have an agenda to cut their costs and increase their profits in situations like this. They will try to get the injured victims of a bus accident — for which their policyholder was at fault — to accept a reduced amount of compensation for an injury in a bus accident in return for a quick settlement whenever possible. Although morally wrong, this practice is not against the law and, should you accept an offer of bus accidents compensation which proves to be insufficient for your medical costs or to support your family, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more compensation.
Bus Accident Compensation: Getting Claims Advice from a Credible Source
After suffering an injury in a bus accident, there will be many people willing to give you bus accidents claims advice. Despite the well-meaning intentions of friends, colleagues and family members, it is always in your best interests to seek bus accidents claims advice from an experienced solicitor as soon as reasonably possible after receiving professional medical attention for your injuries.
In addition to helping you with the collection of police reports, witness statements and negotiations with insurance companies, a solicitor will also be able to help you with your application for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland to ensure every aspect of your compensation claim for an injury in a bus accident is accounted for, and to evaluate the Injuries Board´s assessment to advise you whether it is appropriate in relation to your injuries or whether you should pursue compensation for an injury in a bus accident through negotiation or court action.
Most solicitors will offer free initial bus accidents compensation claims advice to assess whether you have a claim which is worth your while to follow up and, in many cases, you will be able to recuperate any costs which are incurred in the pursuit of legal action as part of the settlement of your claim for bus accidents compensation.
- Bus companies have a legal duty of care towards their passengers, and you can make compensation claims for injuries to passengers in bus accidents if you are injured while a passenger on a bus
- The negligent party may not always be the bus driver, and when other road users have caused an accident, bus accidents claims are made against them
- Bus injury claims for compensation can also be backed up by other passengers on the bus who can act as witnesses on your behalf
- Your own personal health and that of other passengers takes priority over bus accidents claims and you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible
- The value of compensation for an injury in bus accidents is calculated according to the severity of your injuries and any special expenses you have incurred due to your injuries
- Bus accidents claims should never be settled after speaking solely with the negligent party´s insurance company and you should always seek bus accidents claims guidance from a credible source
It is crucial to note that each case is unique. If you have recently been involved in a bus accident in which you have suffered an injury and feel that you have a possible personal injury claim, you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity available to you.