Did you or a loved one get injured from a bus wreck? Check out these 3 bus accident facts for guidance, then call our Mississippi attorney.
Choosing The Right Bus Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident here in Mississippi, there are several things that you should consider when looking for an attorney to represent you on those claims. One is, almost without exception, if there is an injury involving a bus wreck, it typically involves pretty serious injuries, oftentimes death, so there is almost always a lot at stake. The nature of a bus wreck also means that there are likely multiple claims involved because a bus, by design, is built to carry multiple people. When a bus is involved in a wreck, it almost always means that there’s a lot of people on the bus just through numbers and also by setup and design of those vehicles.
There are usually multiple injuries, often involving serious injury or death, so there’s a lot at stake in these claims, not just for the individuals who were harmed, but also for that bus company and the insurance carriers who cover them. Because there’s a lot at stake, typically the damages in those cases are highly contested, and liability becomes contested. There are complex issues, in terms of regulation of motor carriers and business, even when used by a single business or even when rented for private use. Those vehicles are specially regulated, the drivers have special licenses, and the size of those vehicles creates a unique set of facts.
Those cases tend to be more complex and they tend to be higher value with a lot more at stake. As such, it is really essential when choosing an attorney for a claim like that to look to someone who has a solid record of working on personal injury claims. This is not the type of case for a Johnny-come-lately attorney on a personal injury claim. It’s just not the type of case that you want your divorce lawyer or your misdemeanor traffic defense attorney or your bankruptcy attorney representing you on. A bus wreck claim really necessitates a personal injury attorney— someone who litigates personal injury cases regularly, on a daily basis, who understands litigation of personal injury claims, who ideally has had some involvement in motor carrier or large commercial vehicle litigation so that they understand the ins and outs of what lies ahead on that particular claim.
You also want someone with a willingness to go to trial, a willingness to work up a case for trial— someone with a track record of getting solid results for clients and a track record of success on litigating personal injury cases. Here at Brad Morris Law Firm, we have a proven record of success in litigating personal injury cases for our clients. We are available to assist with catastrophic injuries and deaths that arise from bus accidents. If you, a family member or loved one have been involved in a bus wreck, we’re here to answer your questions. Just reach out to us by phone or through our website, and we will work to get you the help that you need in that case. Call us if we can help.
How Bus Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
I was asked the question, “How is a bus accident claim any different from a car wreck claim here in Mississippi?” By way of analogy, I would compare a typical car wreck claim to a bus wreck claim the way that I would compare flying a little regional twin-prop airplane from one airport to an airport a few hundred miles away to riding a spaceship to the International Space Station or the moon. Are they similar? Yeah. They both involve flight, both involve some complex learning and skills, and you need a specialized person involved in both, but the complexity and the stakes are very different from one scenario to the other.
A typical car wreck claim can involve some tremendous catastrophic injuries. All of us know that there are deaths that result from car wrecks, and those are catastrophic to the people involved, both the victim and their families who are victims as well. The complexity of piecing together what happened— the injuries, the reconstruction of all the evidence, etc.— is just different when a large commercial vehicle is involved, particularly a commercial passenger vehicle, such as a bus. There are many additional layers of regulation, along with corporate oversight, corporate involvement, and corporate supervision. Almost always when there’s a bus or tractor trailer involved, for instance, you’re dealing with not only a commercial driver with a commercial driver’s license, but also with a corporate entity with multiple layers of management.
The areas that you have to delve into on a bus crash case are much more complex, as a result, than a typical car wreck claim. You’re going to need to look into the corporate defendants— look into their hiring, their training and supervision practices. You’ve got to look into all the different areas that are regulated by state or federal law, in terms of operation of that vehicle to see if those things were complied with and, if not, did any of that noncompliance contribute to this crash. You also need to look at the extent and severity of damages that happen. Also, by nature in a bus crash, you’re almost always going to have multiple defendants. You’re almost always going to have multiple plaintiffs, where you have multiple parties who were injured, who are involved in the litigation. The insurance companies involved are more specialized, the policies are generally higher and greater, and there’s more money at stake, which kind of raises the game and the stakes for everyone.
The way you investigate those cases is different from a car wreck. The reconstructionists, the experts that you need who are going to testify and comment and prove up the case in terms of liability, will be higher in number and they will be doing more complex work than on a car case. Anytime there’s a bus wreck case, any person who is the victim of a bus wreck, who’s been injured in a bus wreck or who has a family member or a loved one who’s been injured, needs to understand the complexity of that case is so much more than a typical car wreck case. It’s just imperative that you have legal counsel who deals with personal injury litigation regularly and doesn’t just process claims.
On a car wreck case, a lot of times you’re just talking to the adjuster, and you may have to work up the case for litigation. My firm, for instance, we regularly litigate car wreck cases to make sure that our clients get what they deserve, but the way you work up a car wreck case and the adjusters that you’re dealing with are very different from big complex commercial vehicle litigation. To handle it effectively, you need to have some experience in that. The powers that be got to know that you’re willing to litigate. They’ve got to know that you’re going to work up that case in the right way. Victims and their families need to look for representation from attorneys that have experience in this type of complex litigation and who are going to work it up in the right way and put in the resources that are needed to get the job done and get them fair value for that claim.
We are Brad Morris Law Firm. If you have any questions about an injury of yourself or of a family member or loved one that arises from a bus crash, reach out to us. You can reach us through our website or you can call us on the phone. We’ll be happy to do a free consult with you to answer your questions, point you in the right direction, and get you the help that you need on that claim. Reach out to us if you have further questions or if we can help you out in any way.
Injured on a School Bus
When we discuss bus wrecks, sometimes that conversation shifts to claims related to school buses, so not just commercial vehicles but transportation vehicles for schools or other public entities. I just recently had an inquiry from someone whose child had been injured on a school bus. They wanted to know if it was even possible in Mississippi to hold the school bus operator, the school district, or the school liable for injury on a school bus. The answer to that question is yes. In a bus wreck involving a commercial operator, thoses cases involve more personal injury claims just by their nature.
A case involving a school bus, on the other hand, is actually even more complex than that. In addition to all the other considerations that go into a bus accident claim involving commercial carriers, there’s an added level of issues that have to be worked through on a school bus. Most of that arises from a concept that we call sovereign immunity, an ancient legal doctrine passed down into the American legal system from our ties with England. This doctrine states the “sovereign”— i.e. the crown or, in our case, the government— cannot be sued or held accountable except for things that the government agrees to be held accountable for. As contrarian as that may seem to a lot of fundamental American concepts and values, that doctrine has been included in our law.
I think pretty much every state has some form of this to different degrees, even the federal government has a form of this in place. In Mississippi, we have the doctrine of sovereign immunity embedded in our laws. You can only bring lawsuits against the state of Mississippi or state and local governments, including cities, counties, the state government and any entities or subsidiaries under them. For instance, a public utility that’s wholly owned by a city or a county is going to have certain protections under sovereign immunity, as well. Within the last 10 to 15 years, Mississippi has had a major sub-state supreme court ruling come down that helped redefine how we approach sovereign immunity in this state. You often hear terms about managerial discretion, and different forms of discretionary immunity are official immunity. All of that comes into play in terms of how our courts interpret whether or not sovereign immunity applies in all cases where a government entity is involved. The question is, is there some form of exception that’s been carved out by the legislature that allows for lawsuits on that issue?
We’re in a period right now in Mississippi in which there is a lot of discussion about which claims may be brought and compensated and which claims cannot be brought and compensated. Some of this is covered and codified in what we call the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, which is the statute that sets forth and allows certain claims to be brought against state and local government here. When we layer in recent supreme court rulings, all that comes into play on claims brought against public entities.
As such, injuries arising from a passenger on a school bus in Mississippi are also going to have that added level of complexity and analysis whereby we have to take into consideration sovereign immunity. In general, yes, claims can be brought based on injuries on school buses. The extent of that, though, is going to depend on the causes of the injuries. Was it a crash? Was it a crash involving the school bus driver? Was it a crash involving a third party? Was it an injury that had nothing to do with a wreck but some other form of injury? All that’s going to come into play, and there are tons of legal issues that have to be worked through. The practical advice that really needs to get through to you is there is no way to navigate a potential claim arising from an injury on a school bus in Mississippi without legal counsel. What’s more, it needs to be legal counsel that does personal injury litigation regularly. It needs to be legal counsel that has experience in claims against city, state, local governments in Mississippi specifically, as well.
A big, big difference in Mississippi between a regular bus crash and a school bus crash, or injury arising on a bus versus an injury arising on a school bus, is the statute of limitations. Our general statute of limitations is three years, which would apply to most bus crashes. If a school bus is involved, understand that timeline goes down to one year. There are potentially some ways to extend that, when minors are involved, but understand that that is a specific example of how a school bus being involved has a huge impact on the law that may be involved in the case, on how the case needs to be worked up, and how the case needs to be approached. It’s only through competent counsel with experience, not only in personal injury litigation but complex commercial vehicle litigation, that your claim will be handled correctly and you will get fair value for that claim.
If you have any questions about injuries on school buses, feel free to reach out to my firm. We’re the Brad Morris Law Firm. We’ll be happy to try to answer your questions and get you the help that you need. Give us a call.
Were you or a loved one injured on a bus in Mississippi and have questions about our 3 bus accident facts? Contact the experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney, Brad Morris, today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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