How do you determine the value of my bus accident claim?
When we talk about bus accident claims, a question we get a lot is, “How do I value my claim here in Mississippi, particularly, for instance, on a bus wreck case?” The basic types of damages are going to be similar on a bus wreck as they would be on, for instance, a car wreck or a wreck involving an 18-wheeler or other forms of personal injury cases. The way that we work up and prove a bus wreck case, though, would be very different because the vehicle itself involved is so different.
There are different layers of regulation involved that you have to think about, and there is a different standard of driver’s license for that driver. In terms of the injured person’s damages, here in Mississippi – and this is going to be similar in most states – the broad categories of damages are economic damages and non-economic damages. There are also punitive damages that can regularly become involved in significant cases like a bus wreck case, since the industry is highly regulated and we don’t want bus wrecks regularly. We want to discourage behavior that would lead to crashes, so punitive damages sometimes come into play on a case like that more frequently and in larger amounts than in other cases. Let’s look at each of those real quick.
Using the example of a bus wreck, an injured person’s economic damages are the damages that we can put a dollar amount next to, that show actual economic loss of that victim. The actual economic loss, for instance, could be past medical bills, any future medical bills or medical treatment the victim is going to need, lost wages in the past, lost wages in the future – and that could be from not being able to work at all. For instance, in the situation of a catastrophic injury, if we’re talking a wrongful death case, that person’s obviously not going to be able to work again if they’re deceased, so the wrongdoer has to compensate for that lost income in the future. For others, perhaps there’s an injury or some type of permanent disability that happened as a result of the injury. That means they may be able to work, but they may not be able to do what they once did or what they would’ve been doing had it not been for the injury. In that situation, economic damages would include lost earning capacity, which doesn’t mean you completely lose all income in the future, but the party that caused and is responsible for that injury should have to pay that difference between what you would’ve made and what you’re going to make now. Obviously, any property damage might come up, but all of these things are actual economic damages that we can show dollar amounts and prove what the value is.
Non-economic damages are the damages that relate more to mental and emotional pain – the damages that we all know are real, that the law recognizes as compensable, but that don’t tie into a specific economic loss. These include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium with a husband or a wife or sons or daughters, the loss of or the impact on that relationship, whether it be because of the injury, and certainly in situations where there’s death that comes into play. All of those come into play, particularly when you’re talking in the context of something as severe as a bus wreck, where serious injury or death is likely, then usually those numbers can be significant.
Finally, the punitive damages that I mentioned is a category of damages related to driver conduct. If it’s shown that, for instance, the bus company or the operator had engaged in conduct that just goes beyond the pale that sort of shocks the conscience, they would be responsible for punitive damages. In Mississippi the standard for punitive damages is what we call willful, wanton or reckless conduct with disregard for the safety of others. In other states, that threshold is defined differently, but most of them follow some similar pattern indicating willful conduct or reckless conduct that really endangers the public or shocks the conscience. Those come into play to the point of holding the wrongdoer accountable, but, more than that, really punishing them for this outrageous conduct and making an example of them so that other bus carriers, other people in trust in that position don’t’ repeat that conduct, so others are not injured in the future as a result of similar conduct. It’s really for a deterrent, for a punishment, to help protect the public. In these types of cases where we’re talking about something as catastrophic as a bus wreck, oftentimes punitive damages come into play, whereas they may not come into play in other cases.
Those briefly summarize all the different forms of damages that can come into play in a bus accident or an injury arising from a bus accident. The important thing is that anyone with a potential claim arising from a bus wreck really needs a competent experienced trial counsel. You need representation by an attorney with experience on personal injury claims, experience with these types of claims, who knows how to pursue and document every aspect of damages so that nothing is overlooked, and who’s also prepared to litigate the case, to build the case to get full value for that client.
We here at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC litigate personal injury cases every day. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus wreck, we’re here to answer your questions. Just reach out to us by our website or by phone, and we will do our best to get you pointed in the right direction and, most importantly, to get you the help that you need.
Were you or a loved one injured on a bus in Mississippi and have questions about your bus accident case value? Contact the experienced
, Brad Morris, today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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