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Damages Recoverable for Bus Accidents

Buses transport students to schools, commuters to work, home, shopping facilities and more. In addition, buses transport travelers across hundreds of miles to other destinations.

Crashes involving buses occur often due to the poor condition of the bus or driver error. The bus company or owner might fail to adequately inspect for worn tires or malfunctioning breaks. Bus drivers may fail to observe the rules of safe operation or traffic laws because of inattention, lack of adequate rest or being under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances. In some cases, the lapses that create bus crashes result in significant loss of life and serious personal injuries.

Los Angeles bus accident attorneys have experience and skills in pursuing claims if you are injured due to a bus accident or if a loved one dies in a bus crash. Below are common types of damages that you can recover in a bus accident case.

Medical Expenses
Injured bus passengers can recover medical expenses. These out-of-pocket damages include the costs of emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, follow-up appointments and prescriptions. You can seek compensation for both medical attention you have already received and for treatment you will need in the future.

A Los Angeles bus accident lawyer will pull your medical records as part of preparing the case. Your lawyer will need to know the hospital or clinic to where you were taken, any ambulance service that transported you to the emergency room and physicians or rehabilitation professionals who have treated you for injuries from the bus accident. The lawyer will request records on your behalf from these providers.

Within these records lie notes, diagnoses and other information about your injuries, pain level, services rendered and their relation to the bus accident. The physicians’ notes in particular also reveal recommendations for future surgeries or other treatments.

Medical expenses can also include the costs of purchasing wheelchairs, walkers and other devices to assist you with mobility or other activities that have been impaired by the bus accident.

Lost Wages and Lost Ability to Earn
A Los Angeles personal injury attorney will also pursue any claims you may have for lost wages. These economic damages take into account missed days of work and the resulting lost earnings. If a physician recommends a specific number of days away from work or you otherwise cannot return to work because of the injuries, these future lost days also form part of your lost wage recovery.

The support for lost wages will come largely from your pay stubs and tax forms, such as a tax return and W-2. With medical records, a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can calculate the days for which your return to work is not recommended and include them in the lost work days.

Lost earning capacity refers to how the bus accident and resulting injuries impact your ability to hold your current job or similar ones. Evaluating a lost earning capacity claim constitutes one of the services of Los Angeles bus accident attorneys. This work involves having a vocational professional or physician determine whether future disability is permanent or temporary and the extent of that disability. Professionals may issue you a “disability rating” as an indication of your impairment to work in the future.

Pain and Suffering and Other Non-Economic Damages
As the name suggests, non-economic damages represent those that do not involve out-of-pocket losses. Pain and suffering reside in this category of damages. Here, the court seeks to compensate you for the mental and emotional suffering resulting from the crash. Often, pain and suffering are byproducts of the physical injuries for which you receive medical attention. Other non-economic damages include loss of consortium. In this claim, you recover for the loss of services and companionship from your spouse who was injured in the bus crash. As a result, Los Angeles bus accident accident attorneys will typically include the non-injured spouse as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Many states place limits on the non-economic damages you can receive. California applies a “multiplier” to your economic damages — medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and any property damage (usually not common or substantial in a bus accident case). For instance, if you have out-of-pocket losses of $100,000 and a multiplier of four is applied, you multiply four times $100,000 to reach a limit of $400,000 for non-economic damages.

A Los Angeles bus accident lawyer has experience with presenting arguments and evidence for the proper multiplier. The court considers the severity of your personal injuries, the extent of past and future treatments, the impact of the injuries or suffering on your daily activities and the prospects of full recovery, among others.

Wrongful Death
If a passenger or another motorist dies in a bus accident, survivors of the decedent can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Executors or administrators of the estate of the person who died can also sue for wrongful death.

Whether the estate or survivors sue determine the types of damages. A personal representative typically seeks on the estate’s behalf funeral and burial costs, medical bills arising from the emergency room or final hospitalization and treatment and the lost earnings of the decedent, especially the earnings the decedent would have earned but for the death. As such, if you’re a personal representative, a bus accident attorney Los Angeles will need to see the recent pay stubs, W-2 forms or other earnings information.

If you’re suing as an heir or survivor, your damages will include the loss of companionship and support, the lost wages and other financial support rendered by the decedent and the household services rendered by him or her.

Punitive Damages
Most damages pursued by a bus accident attorney Los Angeles are compensatory damages. Generally, personal injury law aims to make injured persons whole, to the extent possible, for their losses economic and otherwise.

However, when the wrongful act of the bus company or driver demonstrates a reckless or malicious disregard for safety of passengers and other motorists, the law allows for an award of punitive damages. These damages, as the title suggests, punish the wrongful actor for egregious actions that go beyond mere carelessness or inattention. Note that the bus driver’s employer cannot face punitive damages solely on the grounds of the employment relationship.

Thus, for instance, that the bus driver may have been impaired does not allow punitive damages for the bus driver’s employer. You must show that the employer itself committed some act that justifies punitive damages.

The law allows only a certain period of time after the bus crash to start a lawsuit. In order for you to avoid your claims being dismissed because of the statute of limitations, contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney with experience in bus accidents. The lawyer can help you gather the evidence to pursue a settlement or lawsuit.

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