If you’ve been in a bus accident that’s not your fault and have sustained injuries, you would want to do everything to ensure the liable party compensates you, including gathering the necessary proof. However, at this point, your primary focus ought to be getting your injuries treated, so you can recover quickly and return to your healthy life. Therapy appointments, doctor’s visits, and going back to doing your daily duties take precedence over taking photos of the accident scene, interviewing eyewitnesses, and other proof-gathering processes. However, the more time passes, the more it will be challenging for you to find critical proof since it may be tampered with or lost.
If you don’t have valid proof, you cannot seek compensation from the liable party for the pain and losses the negligent party caused you. Therefore, you need a skilled bus accident personal injury lawyer by your side, so that when you are in the hospital recovering, they will be gathering evidence on your behalf. With an attorney by your side, critical proof cannot be lost. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, our lawyers will help you collect the evidence you need and fight for you to get fair compensation. This article outlines the various pieces of evidence our lawyers will assist you in gathering if you’re involved in a bus crash in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Overview of Bus Accident Cases
In Nevada, Buses fall in the category of common carriers. This means buses are expected to exercise a higher duty of care compared to cars because they transport a lot of people at a time and have massive weight. Common types of buses in Las Vegas are:
- City buses
- School buses
- Government (federal, state, county) funded buses
- Feeder buses
- Larger vans
- Mobile trailers
- Intercity and long-haul buses
- Commuter buses
In any personal injury claim, particularly bus accident claims, insurance providers will exploit all areas of weakness, to get you to settle for a lesser compensation amount. For you to fight this, there are useful things you can do to make sure your claim isn’t easily lost. Here’s a helpful list of what you ought to do to defend your rights and have the best chance of winning.
- Make sure the bus driver takes your information in detail, including an account of any injuries you have if they’re immediately present.
- Record the bus’s registration plate number and service number
- Note the driver’s name and ID. Also, note the name and IDs of the drivers of any other auto involved in the accidents.
- Record the registration plate number of any automobile involved in the crash
- Note the information of any fellow passengers that might be witnesses.
- If police officers are present at the scene, take the details of the officer investigating the scene and ideally the accident reference number.
- Contact the bus company’s customer support department to report the crash and ensure your involvement is taken note of.
- Attend your local A& E or GP surgery as soon as possible or if any symptoms of your injury worsen. This adds additional medical proof to support your case.
- Preserve evidence that you were traveling on the bus at the time of the accident. If you have a bus ticket, ensure you keep it safe. The receipt will provide undeniable evidence that you were aboard the bus when the accident took place.
- Take note of the location of the collision, including any landmarks and the name of the street.
Evidence You Need to Prove Your Bus Accident Claim
When a bus accident happens, several parties can be blamed and held responsible for the injuries the victims sustained. These parties include the bus driver, owner, or company, and other road users. Other parties include the bus manufacturer, vehicle parts manufacturer, and the maintenance personnel. However, you can’t blame any of these parties if you don’t have anything to show that they contributed to the accident. Therefore, as soon as the accident happens, you need first to gather adequate evidence before embarking on making a personal injury claim. The kind of proof you need to collect depends on which party is to blame for the accident. Generally, the evidence you need includes:
Official Bus Driver Information
Attorneys and investigating officers need drivers’ records to help them investigate and determine liability when a bus-related crash occurs. The records include:
Logbook — As per orders from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), bus owners or companies should ensure their drivers’ logbooks are up-to-date. They should update them according to the driver’s hours of work. The details recorded in these logbooks include the precise time the motorist was driving the bus, stop locations, and rest time. Also, the logbooks should show whether or not there was a co-driver on the bus, if there were, the time they switched positions with their counterparts within twenty-four hours.
All this information could help tell if the driver had been overworked, which later caused the accident due to driver fatigue. It could also help show if the driver had been denied enough rest, which might have contributed to the accident.
Proof of driver qualifications — A bus company or owner is obligated to keep a folder that shows the information of the driver they have employed as per the FMCSA rules. The information has to show:
- The qualifications of the driver
- Their employment application
- An assessment of the driver’s operation records for every year
- Certification of road tests
- Inquiries by the current employers made to the previous ones in the past three years.
- A record of traffic offenses for each year
- Recent health reports that help determine the driver’s current physical condition.
The law dictates that in case of a bus accident, the involved bus’s owner or company produces the file on the bus driver’s qualifications upon request by an investigating officer or your attorney.
The driver’s training file — Just like the driver qualification file, a training file includes certificates and documents indicating the driver’s achievements or specific driving records. A lawyer could request this file, which will help them determine whether the driver of the bus involved in the crash had the necessary training or experience.
Driver’s Drug and Alcohol Test Results — It is unlawful for a bus driver to get behind the wheel while drunk or on drugs or in Nevada. The law dictates that employers should facilitate drug and alcohol tests for their drivers. They are required to store the test results for approximately five years. A bus driver should have a BAC level of 0.04%. Any more than that and they will be considered negligent. On a similar note, the driver should also test the negative of any illicit drug while on the road. If you have been involved in a bus accident, your attorney can request the documentation of drug and alcohol tests to scrutinize the driver’s drug and alcohol abuse history. The information your lawyer can use as proof against the driver include:
- Alcohol test results of more than .04%
- Any results that show the presence of controlled substances in the blood.
- Professional assessment reports indicating substance abuse cases of the driver
- The driver refused to undergo drug testing.
Video Proof of the Bus Operations
Another crucial piece of evidence you might want to present in court to win your case is the video recording on the bus. Often, buses have video surveillance cameras, which consistently capture the vehicle’s ongoing activities, or they’ll start to record if a collision takes place. These cameras are referred to as event-based recording systems/continuous recording systems. The constant video-recording cameras are mostly found in motor coaches, and transit and school buses. They record the behavior of the driver or passengers and the diagnostics of the vehicle. They also provide additional security.
Should a collision happen, you can acquire this video recording and present them as proof to demonstrate how and why the crash occurred. However, note that the video’s data is only stored for a limited period after being captured. As far as maintenance records are concerned, bus companies are required to keep records for thirty days for those under their management. For you to ensure that all critical pieces of evidence are kept ahead of your suit, you should contact a bus accident personal injury attorney for help.
Black Box Data
A black box refers to an on-board recorder that captures the operational data of the bus. This data is beneficial since it shows the throttle position, speed of the bus, hard breaks, etc. The info is captured on a loop. It usually disappears when new data is captured. Your lawyer needs to download the info before it’s lost.
The EOBRs (Electronic Onboard Recording Devices) Data
As per the FMCSA directives, buses, like other commercial vehicles, are installed with EOBRs, which record the vehicle’s systems, such as the braking control and engine control systems. When a collision occurs, the recording gadgets known as ELDs (electronic logging devices) will capture this info. The information becomes helpful when determining what malfunction, if any, led to the crash.
You need the bus’s on-board systems data to use as proof in court. This data shows the precise location of the bus, throttle position, the direction the bus was heading, brake application, and several other functions required to find out what caused the accident.
If you’re hospitalized because of severe injuries, your lawyer should act quickly and obtain this data since the current info gets erased when new data is captured. If necessary, the attorney can ask the court to issue an order to stop the bus operations until the information is released.
Maintenance and Inspection Records
Just like other automobiles, buses need to be inspected and serviced regularly. Drivers are given the inspection records to confirm the completion of inspections. Bus systems that require inspections include:
- Wheels, tires, and rims
- The steering mechanism
- Braking systems and braking fluid
- Reflectors and lighting systems
- Rearview mirrors
- Windshield wipers
- Safety equipment and emergency kit
The bus owner or company also has to keep the vehicle’s maintenance and repair records. If an accident occurs, this information comes in handy when determining if it was a past repair that contributed to the crash. Sometimes, mechanics damage certain bus systems, and unknown to the driver, they will operate the vehicle and end up being involved in an accident. In a case like this, it is the mechanics to be blamed for poor maintenance.
Physical Proof of the Accident Scene
Visual content serves as indisputable evidence when filing claims against the negligent party or parties. This is because videos and images capture real-time actions of what a person does. We recommend that if you have been involved in a bus accident and are still stable, take photos of the crash scene immediately. For instance, take photos of the skid marks, yaw marks, road signs, gouge marks, or any evidence that can very quickly disappear after the crash. You can also take pictures of the other vehicles involved in the accident and the injuries you sustained. Ensure you take high-quality pictures of the scene and accurate measurement before it’s too late.
Driver’s Cell Phone Data
It is illegal for a bus driver to use his/her cellphone while driving. If an accident occurs and after inspecting cell phone data, it is found that the driver was sending text messages or talking on the phone, he/she can be held liable for the injuries you sustained. For your lawyer to substantiate that the driver was using their phones while driving, he/she can compel the relevant telecommunication company to retrieve texting or call history at the time of the accident.
Including testimonies from witnesses in your claim will help you succeed in your case. By witnesses testifying against the liable party, it can quickly move your case from being weak to strong enough to win. Persons you can approach to include in your list of witnesses include bystanders or owners/employees of the businesses that are near the accident scene who saw what happened exactly. You should collect their contact information as soon as the accident occurs so it can be easy tracking them down once you embark on the process of filing a claim.
The initial thing you ought to do after you have been in a bus crash is getting checked up properly and treated by a doctor. The reason for this is that you might have incurred severe injuries that only a medical professional can give a diagnosis and treat. It is advisable that even if, immediately after the collision, it appears that you aren’t injured, you must still visit a hospital so the doctor can conduct a thorough checkup. There may be hidden or minor injuries that still need proper treatment since if they aren’t addressed, they could lead to significant problems in the future.
Going to the hospital ensures that any injury you sustained is treated as soon as possible, so the insurance company doesn’t claim that you waited for the injuries to worsen before you could obtain help, a claim that can deny you compensation. As you go through the treatment process, ensure you keep the doctor’s report on diagnosis and how the process is progressing. Other additional information that you should keep a record of include:
- Treatment costs
- Surgery costs
- Physical therapy expenses
- Laboratory fees
- Hospital bills
- Doctor appointment expenses
- Family physician charges
- Prescription medication costs
- Pain management treatment expenses
- Any other physician expenses
Apart from the above information, also ensure you include the facts about the collision and your medical examination in your health records. You may be awarded damages for future medical costs in addition to past & current medical bills. However, note that this will only happen if you ‘re capable of proving that these future expenses are justifiable since they are connected to the injuries the bus accident caused. Future medical expenses amount is awarded based on how severe the injuries are and the healing period they will take. Also, it’s based on the type or level of care you’ll need to make a full recovery.
Objective Proof that You Sustained Injuries
You may be required to present actual evidence that shows you were truly injured as a result of the bus accident. The injuries can be visualized or presented using radiographic proof. For example, you can show your X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or other scientific tests you did. If you present evidence like this, it could help find out the precise degree of the injuries you suffered. Consequently, it leads to higher compensation compared to the injuries that are based only on your believability to substantiate.
Most injuries could lead to adverse effects and can’t be diagnosed with objective tests. Injuries of this kind include back problems and severe headaches, among others. Usually, the judge will hesitate to award higher compensation amounts in scenarios where there isn’t objective proof that the victim was injured. On the other hand, if there’s actual proof of injury, the amount of compensation will go higher. But there may be no objective evidence of your injury at all, a factor that the jury has to consider before granting damages.
The Autos That Were Also Involved in the Collision
The other automobiles that were also hit by the bus could be required to be presented as proof. Crash reconstruction experts can use these autos to determine the force the accident had on them and find out the speeds that both the bus and the vehicles were traveling at when the crash took place. But for this evidence to be considered valid, the bus owner or company shouldn’t rush to repair the bus involved until the experts have done their job.
Also, the owners or drivers of the other involved cars shouldn’t allow their insurance providers to repair or salvage them until after the investigation is over.
Proof of Traveling in the Bus
If you were a passenger on the bus and want to be compensated, you should be able to show that you indeed were traveling on the bus when the accident took place. It is only logical that the jury or insurance provider of the at-fault party will need to ascertain that you’re not lying about being on the bus before awarding compensation. This is because there have been so many cases of false suits where passengers can’t prove they were aboard the bus when the collision took place.
Thus, after you get into the bus, ensure that you take note of its number and the time and date you were in it. It also helps to record all the incidents that occurred before and after the collision. You can show a broader perspective in a courtroom by presenting this proof. Most importantly, if you are given a bus ticket, ensure you keep it safe. It is critical proof that you were on the bus.
Find a Bus Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a bus accident, the steps you take determine whether you will be compensated or not, and the compensation amount. One of these steps is gathering evidence to prove that the at-fault party was negligent. However, since the accident could lead to severe injuries that may make you spend several days in the hospital, you may be incapable of gathering proof on time. For this reason, you need someone to help you do this. A bus accident personal injury attorney is the better-placed to help you. Apart from just gathering evidence, he/she will preserve it carefully and help you fight your case so that you can be generously compensated. Therefore, if you get involved in a crash, ensure that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you are in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has experienced attorneys that are ready to give you all the help you need. Call us at 702-996-1224 to talk to us and share the details of your case.