Bus accidents. Every so often you see one on the news, usually because the accident was major or involved a sports team (or both).
Fortunately, most bus accidents aren’t very newsworthy, at least not to the public in general.
It’s definitely a different story if you have the bad luck of being involved in one, either as a bus passenger or because the car you were in collided with a bus.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer to Handle Your Case
If either of these things happen or have recently happened to you, you may need a lawyer to seek recovery for any property damage or personal injury you suffered. Not just any lawyer, however. Why? Because there are significant benefits to hiring a bus accident attorney in NJ over one who engages in general personal injury practice.
If you’ve been injured in a bus accident, you absolutely need to speak with an experienced attorney. This is because a qualified bus accident attorney in NJ is capable of representing you, of preserving your rights and protecting your interests.
Whether you were a passenger on the bus, the driver of a car the bus collided with, or even a pedestrian in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time, a bus accident attorney in NJ can provide you with the information and guidance you need in order to make solid, prudent decisions that are in your best interests.
What happens next?
The actions your lawyer will take depends in large part, of course, on the situation surrounding your accident, the identity of the parties involved, the various insurance policies (if any) of those parties and who was at fault for the accident, among other things.
If you require legal representation, focus on hiring a bus accident attorney in NJ, not simply a personal injury lawyer, even if that individual has experience handling motor vehicle accident cases. Why? Because there are circumstances and issues unique to a bus accident which are not present in most other personal injury cases.
Not only is hiring the right lawyer critical to your efforts for recovery after a bus accident, so too is the timing of your decision to do so. And if, as the saying goes, timing is everything, than the sooner the better.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate why representation by a bus accident attorney in NJ is so important is by examining different bus accident scenarios.
Bus Accident Attorneys are Valuable
Bus accidents are not uncommon. When a bus accident occurs (even a minor one), it may make the local news because of the number of people involved and because traffic is often snarled as a result.
Perhaps the accident involved a tour bus on a long distance excursion or sightseeing trip. Regardless, if the accident is major, it receives even more attention, primarily because injuries passengers suffered are often serious.
It is for these reasons that a bus accident attorney in NJ becomes valuable. This type of accident has many moving parts, so to speak, and only a lawyer familiar with all that’s involved can be effective in handling your case. And the work begins almost immediately because gathering evidence becomes more difficult as time passes.
Who’s fault was it?
Establishing fault is, of course, one of the most important issues that must be resolved in order to determine which party is ultimately responsible for paying damages for any injuries suffered by the passengers on the bus or anyone else involved in the accident.
Key questions include:
- Was the driver solely at fault?
- Was another vehicle involved?
- To what extent was the driver of that other vehicle responsible for the accident, if any?
- New Jersey is a comparative negligence state which means a court will determine financial responsibility for property damage and injuries parties experience based on the percentage the respective parties were at fault for having caused the accident.
- Were there circumstances beyond the control of the driver?
- For example, was there a rock slide on a mountain road just around a bend or was there wildlife on the road the driver could not avoid?
- What were the road and weather conditions at the time of the accident?
These factors are important
Each of these factors can change the outcome and, as a result, have a direct effect on any recovery you might receive.
It is important to get these pieces:
- The bus driver.
- The owner of the bus.
- The insurance policies of each.
- The driver of every other vehicle involved.
- Insurance policies of all other drivers.
- The names and contact information of all potential witnesses including all bus passengers, passengers in any other vehicles involved and any passersby who may have witnessed the accident or have information about road conditions, traffic signals, the angle of the sun, etc.
Let your lawyer do the work
Gathering all of this information is labor-intensive. Getting statements from the individuals involved will likely be even more time-consuming. However, this is important work that should be done as soon as possible.
Memories fade over time and, as a result, the recollection of witnesses can become hazy, making any evidence they provide potentially less credible.
Remember that in this scenario you were a passenger on a bus and probably not the only one. You may, in fact, have been one among many people injured.
If so, and without diminishing your situation in any way, you become just one of many people with whom the insurance company/companies involved must deal, each with his or her own story to tell, medical costs to cover and wages to replace if work was missed due to the accident.
While it’s possible for you to try to navigate such this situation on your own, you would certainly be much better served if you allowed a bus accident attorney in NJ to handle matters for you.
Were you in another vehicle?
If you were simply a passenger, the issue of comparative negligence only impacts you indirectly (who ultimately “pays the bills”).
If, however, you drove, the other vehicle, you will find yourself at the center of a comparative negligence analysis, the results of which will determine the amount of damages you recover, if any.
Hiring a bus accident attorney in NJ as soon as possible after the accident will allow you to have some influence on whether you are ultimately deemed to be partially or wholly at fault for the accident.
You were simply walking along, minding your own business.
If you are a pedestrian struck by a bus, you are the bus accident. Needless to say, you’ll be at a financial and logistical disadvantage if the bus company denies liability because you’ll be faced with a spirited legal defense by the company’s insurance company and lawyers.
New Jersey’s comparative negligence law is applicable to this situation as well. In order to prevail you’ll need to establish that you were not responsible for the accident or the injuries you suffered as a result. A competent bus accident attorney in NJ is your only chance to level the playing field as you pursue the recovery to which you may be entitled.