How to File a Bus Accident Claim

April 28, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
How to File a Bus Accident Claim

The aftermath of a bus accident can leave injured passengers with physical, emotional, and financial burdens. If you have suffered injuries while riding a bus, you might wonder, “How do I file a bus accident claim to obtain compensation?”

The good news is that you never have to determine the process of filing a claim on your own. Instead, contact a bus accident attorney who can pursue the compensation you need to get your life back on track.


Identifying the Liable Party After a Bus Accident

How to File a Bus Accident Claim

Knowing who is liable for a bus accident is necessary to seek legal recourse and obtain compensation through a bus accident claim. In the vast majority of cases, any of the following parties may be liable for a bus accident, and your bus accident attorney can pinpoint all liable parties in your case.

The Bus Driver

Many bus accidents are the fault of the bus driver. Examples of bus driver errors often include:

  • Distracted driving. Driving requires focus, and driving a bus requires even sharper focus. Unfortunately, bus drivers can have greater distractions due to passengers and things happening on the bus. 
  • Fatigue. Many bus drivers work long hours, might work multiple jobs, or might have medical conditions that affect sleep. Fatigue can affect their driving abilities. 
  • Traffic law violations. While bus drivers should follow traffic laws to the letter, they might speed, ignore traffic lights, fail to signal, or commit other violations that cause crashes. 

A thorough investigation should confirm whether the driver was at fault.

The Bus Company

The responsibility may fall on the bus company if the accident resulted from operational or systemic failings within the organization. This can include:

  • Inadequate maintenance. A failure to conduct regular checks and repairs may lead to mechanical errors causing the crash.
  • Overworking staff. Pressuring drivers into long hours, leading to fatigue, might shift the blame to the business’s management practices.
  • Negligent hiring. The company can be responsible for negligent hiring practices if the driver’s record indicates a potential risk they ignored. 
  • Negligent retention. If a bus driver shows signs of recklessness, driving violations, or other conduct that might put riders at risk, the company should not retain the driver. If it does and the driver causes a crash, the company should be liable.

The bus company can also be vicariously liable for the bus driver’s negligence, even if the company was not negligent itself. Your bus accident attorney can identify when multiple parties share liability.

A Manufacturing Company

When a malfunction causes a bus accident, attention often turns to the manufacturer. Faulty brakes, steering systems, or tires are common culprits. If proven, the manufacturing company can bear the responsibility for:

  • Product defects. Buses or parts in use that had known defects are grounds for holding the manufacturer liable.
  • Lack of proper warnings. The manufacturer can be at fault if they failed to provide adequate warnings about known dangers.

Proving manufacturing or design defects may require the assistance of a bus accident lawyer with experience handling defective product cases.

A Maintenance Company

A maintenance company can be liable if the accident results from improperly conducted or neglected maintenance. This can involve:

  • Routine inspection neglect. If standard checks were ignored, leading to a mechanical malfunction.
  • Insufficient repairs. Subpar work in addressing identified issues after inspections.
  • Incompetent staff. The maintenance company can be responsible for not training or overseeing their employees properly.

To determine the liability of a maintenance company, you may need access to the company’s inspection and maintenance records.

A Government Entity

Sometimes, accidents happen due to issues with the roads or intersections that fall under the jurisdiction of a government entity. This might include:

  • Poorly-maintained roads. Potholes, debris, or insufficient road markings can lead to accidents for which a relevant authority can be responsible.
  • Inadequate traffic management. If the accident was due to a signal malfunction or lack of proper signage, the management body may be the liable party.
  • Construction zones. If the accident was within a construction zone where the layout was hazardous, the overseeing body can be at fault.

In most states, suing a government agency is governed by strict procedures that differ from those that apply to lawsuits against private entities. In Nevada, for example, the injured party must file a notice of claim prior to suing the State of Nevada.

Filing a Bus Accident Claim: Step-by-Step Guide

Filing a Bus Accident Claim Step-by-Step Guide

Pursuing compensation after a bus accident might seem daunting, especially if you do not understand what filing a bus accident claim entails. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to seek compensation after a bus accident.

Step 1: Get Medical Care to Document Your Injuries

Your health is the most critical concern following a bus accident. For this reason, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Not only is this important for your well-being, but it also serves as a vital record for your future claim. Medical records are evidence of the injuries sustained due to the accident and are crucial when demanding compensation for medical bills and other losses.

Step 2: Prepare Documentation for the Bus Accident Claim

Gathering all necessary documentation related to the accident is the foundation of your claim. This includes a copy of the police report, medical records, photographs of the bus accident scene, and any other relevant information that can help illustrate the events, the impact of the collision, and your resulting losses.

Step 3: Schedule a Consultation with a Bus Accident Lawyer

The legal aftermath of a bus accident can be challenging without the professional guidance and advice of a bus accident attorney. Consulting a lawyer who has successfully handled bus accident claims in the past can significantly aid you in understanding your rights and the merits of your claim.

Step 4: Have Your Lawyer Investigate the Accident

Once you hire a lawyer, they will conduct an in-depth investigation of the bus accident. This step may involve collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and hiring expert witnesses. The primary goal of the investigation is to assemble a strong case to support your claim for maximum compensation.

Step 5: Establish Negligence

To receive compensation after a bus accident, you must establish negligence. In other words, it means you must prove that the bus company or another party failed to exercise reasonable care, leading to the accident. Your lawyer will demonstrate how the other party’s actions or failure to act contributed to the occurrence of the accident and the resulting harm.

Step 6: Begin Settlement Talks with the Insurance Company

Approximately 97 percent of tort cases, including bus accident claims, are resolved through settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Your lawyer will communicate with the insurer on your behalf, using the available evidence to argue for a settlement that adequately covers your medical expenses, losses, and other related damages.

Step 7: Settle the Bus Accident Claim

If the negotiations with the insurance company are successful, you will reach a settlement agreement. This agreement will detail the compensation you will receive and – ideally – should account for all the losses you have suffered. However, you need to carefully review the terms with your lawyer before agreeing to ensure that your interests are fully protected.

Step 8: Take Your Case to Trial if Necessary

If you cannot reach a settlement through negotiations, taking your case to trial might be the necessary course of action. While this can extend the process, increase the cost, and involve more complexities, sometimes it is required to get the compensation deserved. Your lawyer will prepare to present your case before a judge or jury with the objective of securing a judgment in your favor.

Trials can be lengthy and complex, but they might result in higher compensation, so you should never ignore the possibility of litigation.

Settling Your Bus Accident Claim vs. Going to Trial

Understanding the implications of settling versus going to trial is imperative to receiving rightful compensation. Let’s review the major differences between settling a bus accident claim and going to trial:

Settling a Bus Accident Claim

When you suffered an injury in a bus accident, settling your claim with the insurance company might seem like the most straightforward path to resolution. In many cases, it can be. Settlement offers several key advantages, including:

  • Speedy resolution. Court cases can drag on for months, if not years, whereas settlements can provide a relatively quick resolution. Those needing financial support to cover medical bills or lost income may find a swift settlement immensely beneficial. However, never accept less than you deserve simply to settle the matter faster.
  • Certainty of the outcome. With a settlement, you know exactly how much compensation you will receive. This certainty can allow you to plan for your future more effectively than a trial's unknown outcome.
  • Reduction of stress. Avoiding the adversarial nature of a court battle can greatly reduce stress, allowing you to focus on your recovery rather than the complexities of a trial.

Going to Trial

Though settlements are appealing for their convenience, taking your bus accident claim to trial can also yield significant benefits:

  • Potential for greater compensation. Juries may award higher compensation than the bus company is willing to settle for, particularly if they find the defendant’s actions to be extremely egregious. Punitive damages to punish intolerable conduct are only available at trial and not through a settlement.
  • Public record of the incident. A trial creates a public record of the incident and holds the bus company accountable in a way that a private settlement does not.
  • Setting a precedent. Should your case be particularly egregious, a precedent may be set that influences the behavior of the bus company and can prevent similar accidents in the future.
  • The benefit of legal discovery. The legal discovery process in a trial can provide insight into the defendant’s conduct, potentially strengthening your case and increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle your bus accident claim or go to trial must be made with careful consideration of the specifics of your case, your financial needs, and your tolerance for legal proceedings. Consulting with a lawyer will assess your options and make an informed decision that serves your best interests.

The Advantages of Having a Lawyer When Filing a Bus Accident Claim

Attempting to navigate the legal process without a lawyer will reduce the chances of a fair settlement or award. Below are some of the most notable advantages of legal representation:

  • Understanding your legal rights and options. With laws varying from state to state, a lawyer who practices in personal injury and bus accidents can make sense of the legal process in your state. They are well-versed in the specific legislations, statutes of limitation, and nuances of case law that can affect a bus accident claim in your jurisdiction.
  • Assessing the value of your claim. By working with medical and financial experts, a lawyer can accurately calculate the current and future costs of your injuries following a bus accident. Your lawyer will ensure that no potential damage category is overlooked, from hospital bills and rehabilitation to loss of earning capacity and diminished quality of life. They can also evaluate any psychological effects, which can be as impactful as the physical injuries sustained.
  • Negotiating a fair settlement. The insurance companies of bus operators are typically well-prepared to minimize payouts. They employ skilled negotiators and have vast resources at their disposal to deny claims and reduce the amount of money paid to injured victims. When you are going up against an insurance company on your own, you are at a significant disadvantage.

In the aftermath of a bus accident, your focus should be on your physical recovery. A lawyer acts as your advocate, handling your claim from start to finish so that you can concentrate on healing. They will build your case, walk you through all the steps of filing a bus accident claim, and communicate with the insurance company and opposing party on your behalf.

Case evaluations with injury lawyers in Las Vegas are free, so schedule yours today.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.