Types of Accidents
There are several different types of vehicle accidents. Most involve another moving vehicle, but single-vehicle accidents do occur. The different types of car accidents include:
- Rear-end accidents. Especially in southern California, rear-end collisions are prevalent. Even minor fender benders on the highways can cause serious injuries.
- Head-on collisions. These are catastrophic crashes that can result in serious injuries. They cause 10% of all fatalities in car accidents.
- Side-impact collisions. These are often called T-bone crashes. Most occur at intersections, but they can happen anywhere.
- Rollover accidents. This is when a vehicle rolls after a collision. Vehicles with a center of mass higher up are more prone to rollovers.
- Off-road crashes. The deadliest of crashes, this is a catchall category. These are caused mainly by intoxicated drivers and drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. More than 30% of deaths in vehicle accidents are from off-road crashes.
Types of Injuries
Many different types of injuries may occur as a result of a Huntington Beach accident. Not all are physical; some injuries are mental and emotional. It is important to try to seek treatment yourself, even for your mental health. Injuries that may occur as a result of a bus crash include:
- Broken bones
- Whiplash (this may not appear until the day after a bus accident)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- General anxiety disorder
- Cuts and contusions
It is important to have the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton collect all the medical evidence to present to a court. In addition, these medical records may be used in negotiations for a settlement.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is an agreement between the parties to set a monetary award instead of continuing with legal action. Settlements take all the guesswork out of the equation. Personal injury cases are not all the same, and results cannot be guaranteed. Going to trial has risks that may be worth the amount being offered in a settlement. Settlements are the best way to ensure compensation. Trust the experience of the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Easton & Easton.
What Makes a Huntington Beach Accident Different From a Regular Car Accident?
There can be many different types of buses. There are private buses, city commuter buses, and tour buses. Depending on who owns the bus, you may be dealing with a municipality or governmental entity. These nuances are best handled by the Huntington Beach accident attorneys at Easton & Easton.
Additionally, if the bus is considered a common carrier under California law, the driver owes passengers additional duties.
How Do You Know If the Bus Is a Common Carrier Under California Laws?
Simply put, a common carrier is a company that transports people or items for a fee. There are three main factors that you look at when determining whether a bus is a common carrier:
- A fee is charged for the transportation.
- The company was formed to transport people or things from one place to another.
- The company was advertised or introduced as a transportation entity to the public.
Common carriers are more than just buses; they include cruise ships, taxis, planes, and, more recently, Uber and Lyft. Being a common carrier comes with additional duties that are owed to the passengers or customers.
Heightened Duty of Care for Common Carriers
Under civil and common law of California, buses that are common carriers are required to use the “utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.” This heightened duty of care makes it easier to establish negligence in a personal injury case.
As common carriers, buses and their operators and employees must:
- Provide a safe bus that is adequate to perform the service offered.
- Pay attention to the passengers (reasonable degree of attention) and be civil to them.
- Inform passengers of any dangerous conditions that exist with the transportation.
- Be mindful of the disabled and elderly and provide adequate accommodations.
- Drive in a safe manner (no erratic driving, no sudden stops).
- Protect the passengers from harm, including from each other.
- Provide proper training and screening for the bus driver and other employees.
This duty of care can extend to third parties, including other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. Reasonable care must be given to ensure their safety as well.
Common Carrier Liability
There are instances where a common carrier can be found liable for your injuries, if the common carrier:
- Starts before the passenger is on or off board.
- Starts before passengers are seated.
- Closes the door on any passengers.
- Attempts to make a bus stop at an unsafe spot.
- Fails to maintain the steps of the bus safely.
There are some exceptions to the liability discussed above regarding common carriers. When a Huntington Beach bus crash is due to an act of nature, the common carrier can be pardoned. Additional exceptions to common carrier liability are robbery, carjacking, pirating (yes, even pirates), and passenger negligent acts. If the common carrier’s duties cannot be performed due to something outside of its control, it may be pardoned from the liability associated with common carriers.
What Do You Need to Show to Receive Compensation for Your Personal Injury Claim?
You need to show negligence when one party’s failure to act with reasonable care in a specific situation causes an accident. There are four core components of negligence:
- Identify the defendant (the bus driver or a driver in another vehicle that caused the bus accident) and prove that there was a duty of care owed to the plaintiff (you) by the defendant. All California drivers have a legal duty to drive safely, pay attention, and abide by traffic laws. There is a special duty of care when it involves a bus, where the bus provides a service. Bus drivers must provide a safe environment for passengers on the bus and other drivers on the road.
- Identify how the defendant breached the duty of care. This is how the driver was negligent (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distraction, moving violations).
- Identify the damages. Identify all the ways this personal injury affected you.
- Identify the causation between the defendant’s negligence and the resulting injuries.
These four components can be overwhelming to someone who is already dealing with a personal injury. Place your trust in the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton.
Negligence with a common carrier can usually be proven by a violation of a traffic law. The other way is to show that the bus driver failed to exercise reasonable care and diligence that a prudent bus driver would have exercised.
How Are Damages Determined?
California is a pure comparative negligence statute state. This means that a percentage of culpability is given to each participant, and the participant owes their share. Comparative negligence means if another driver were partially at fault, they would be responsible for their portion of the damages.
Are There Different Types of Damages?
Compensation can come in many forms. First, medical expenses are the most common form of compensation.
- Medical costs. Monetary compensation for medical expenses should allow the injured party to reach maximum medical improvement. If permanent disability is at issue, compensation for long-term medical care should also be included.
- Property damage. Damaged property can extend to personal property, including lost items in a bus accident. For instance, if a bus accident resulted in a vehicle fire and luggage was lost, a claim for the amount of the lost items may be appropriate.
- Lost wages. Injured parties may also claim their lost wages in the compensation they are due. Lost wages include wages lost when recovering and future lost wages if permanent disability occurs.
- Pain and suffering. The injured person may also claim pain and suffering. This is a general category that the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton will be able to discuss with clients. Pain and suffering includes psychological suffering as well as physical pain caused by the bus accident.
- Punitive damages. It is possible to also try to obtain punitive damages in bus accident injury cases. Punitive comes from the Latin root word punire, “to inflict a penalty on.” Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the action rises to a level above simple negligence. Courts will look at whether the actions of those at fault were intentionally harmful.
- Criminal penalties are possible too. Criminal charges may concern driving while intoxicated, or the charges might be in the form of a specific violation of the traffic laws and regulations. Criminal charges may help to show the negligence of the defendant.
Is There a Time Limit to File My Case?
There is a two-year statute of limitation in California for personal injury claims. This may seem like a long time, but a lot of preparation goes into each case. You need to contact the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton as soon as possible after an injury.
Is the Bus Driver Always the Defendant?
No. Other drivers may be at fault, either partially or fully. In addition, city or state government entities might be involved if poor maintenance of the roadway contributed to the crash. School boards may be involved in school bus crashes. In addition, experts may be hired to do an accident reconstruction to aid in the case.
The accident reconstruction expert will look at all of the evidence (witness accounts, pictures, videos, skid marks, etc.) and provide a thorough report on what happened in the crash.
Also, newer vehicles are equipped with a black box that records all relevant information at the time of an accident. It provides speed, braking, airbag deployment, and sometimes other important details. Experts in accident reconstruction will use all this information to recreate the accident, usually with the help of a computer program. With an expert’s advice, the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton may also decide to pursue a municipality for faulty highway design or sign placement. The bus manufacturer may also be liable for damages if mechanical failure caused (either entirely or partially) the bus accident.
Additional experts may be needed depending on the case. Sometimes medical experts, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, and other experts are needed to present the best case. The personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton will ensure that the appropriate experts are hired and available for your case.
How Much Do the Injury Lawyers of Easton & Easton Cost?
Payment is contingent on winning the case. A percentage of the award will be given to the personal injury attorneys. Since our payment amount is directly related to how much money we recover on your behalf, we have an additional incentive to do the best job possible. It’s always in our best interest to get the highest financial award possible for personal injury cases relating to Huntington Beach bus accidents. Certain expenses (such as expert fees) are not included in the contingency fee, and those are paid directly when the award is given.
Are There Things I Should Avoid Doing to Minimize Problems With the Case?
Yes. First, do not speak with anyone at any insurance company until you have consulted one of our bus accident attorneys. Wording can be critical in the outcome of a case. Sadly, some insurance companies don’t have your best interests in mind in an accident but the best interests of the bus company or government that runs the busses.
Second, avoid posting on social media. It’s just as important to be cautious with social media as you recover as it was in the aftermath of the accident. Social media posts can undermine the strength of a case because posts can be used against you. For example, consider an issue where a victim in a personal injury case loses a leg. Months after his amputation, he participated in a wounded warrior snowboarding event. The defendant may try to use the snowboarding posts on social media to try to say his pain and suffering wasn’t as bad as it was.
It is best not to post anything on social media that can be used against you. Privacy settings are not always absolute. The best philosophy is less is more as far as social media posts. The actual preference is to avoid social media altogether.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Hiring a personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies will be quick to try to settle cases for the lowest possible amount. Often the insurance companies are reaching out before injuries are even fully treated.
Hiring a personal injury attorney from Easton & Easton will give you the peace of mind to manage your injuries after a Anaheim bus accident. It is the job of the attorney you hire to tell your story and tell it well enough to get you the compensation you deserve. We want to hear your story and ensure it is told accurately and fairly.
Easton & Easton has recovered more than $100,000,000 for our clients within the past five years; contact us now to see how we can help you.