29 Dec, 2023

How Much Are City Bus Accident Settlements Worth?

Author Todd A. Strong
Public transportation bus. City bus accident settlements
Public transportation bus. City bus accident settlements

Factors Influencing Bus Accident Settlements

Several factors that can impact the size of your settlement are:

Severity of the Injuries

Bus accidents can cause various injuries, ranging from minor to severe. The severity of these injuries is a crucial factor that determines the compensation amount. For instance, if a passenger has minor flesh wounds, they may not receive the same compensation as a passenger who has become paralyzed due to the accident.

More severe injuries require extra medical treatment, which lasts for a longer period of time. This results in higher medical bills, lost wages due to time off work, and, in severe cases, reduced earning capacity. If the injury requires ongoing treatment, there will be future medical costs to be incurred. Moreover, the pain and suffering associated with severe injuries are likely to be more significant, and all of these factors can be claimed as damages. On the other hand, if the injuries are less severe, the costs, pain, and suffering associated with them are likely to be less as well, leading to smaller compensable damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the expenses and financial losses that can be calculated directly from a bus accident.

You can claim compensation for economic damages such as:

Medical Expenses

This covers everything from emergency room costs and emergency transportation to hospitalization, surgery, testing, the cost of prescription medication, and the cost of medical equipment. If you file a personal injury claim, it's possible that your medical expenses from the past, present, and future could be taken into account. The seriousness of your injuries will be a major factor in determining how much this par to f your settlement is worth. Therefore, it is crucial that you document your injuries and seek medical attention. An experienced bus accident lawyer may know how to collect various types of evidence, including how to get traffic camera footage for your accident.

Future Medical Expenses

In the event of a bus accident claim, victims may receive damages for future medical expenses as part of their overall compensation. While some accident victims may recover from their injuries within a short period of time, others may require ongoing medical care due to serious and life-changing injuries. Future medical expenses can help cover the cost of necessary treatments and care for these victims to aid in their recovery process.

Lost Wages

If you were unable to attend work because of the injuries caused by the accident, there is a possibility that you can receive compensation for the income loss. Furthermore, if the accident led you to resign from your job, switch professions, or accept a lower-paying job, you might be eligible to claim compensation for the loss of earning capacity or means of living.

Property Damage

Your car may have sustained significant damage or even been declared a total loss. You may be eligible to receive financial compensation to cover the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Similarly, if you were a passenger on the bus at the time of the accident and any of your personal belongings were damaged or lost, you may be entitled to receive compensation for those items as well.

Non-Economic Damages

Victims of bus accidents can suffer damages that cannot be measured in terms of money. These damages are known as non-economic damages and include physical pain and mental suffering. In addition to physical injuries, victims may also experience psychological and emotional effects. However, in order to pursue these damages, it must be proven that they are a direct consequence of the accident.

Calculating pain and suffering damages is a complex process that usually requires the assistance of a motor vehicle accident attorney. If your pain and suffering is recognized, it can significantly increase your overall settlement.

Examples of pain and suffering damages may include the following:

  • Pain
  • Feelings of emotional turmoil
  • Inability to derive pleasure from life
  • Feelings of anxiousness or sadness
  • Losing the ability to engage in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Losing the company or support of loved ones.

Comparative Negligence

To receive compensation for a bus accident, you must prove that the responsible party's negligence caused your injuries. In Illinois, personal injury cases follow a modified comparative negligence system. Under this system, each party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault, which will determine the proportionate reduction of claimable damages. If a party is found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, he or she is not eligible to make a claim. Therefore, if you were partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be decreased.

The comparative negligence system has a large impact on the amount of compensation you may receive for your bus accident injuries. If you contributed to the accident, your damages will be reduced according to your degree of negligence. Therefore, the more negligent you were, the lower your compensation will be. If you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will not be able to make a claim. Hiring a lawyer can be beneficial in collecting evidence to prove the full extent of the responsible party's liability on your behalf.

Important Legal Considerations in City Bus Accident Settlements

Awareness of the legal considerations after a bus accident helps ensure a successful claim.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a legal rule that sets a time limit for initiating legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense. After a certain period of time, you lose the right to file a claim.

If you were involved in a bus accident, the type of bus that caused the accident will determine how long you have to file a bus accident lawsuit. For accidents involving private buses, the two-year statute of limitations in Illinois typically applies. Therefore, you have two years from the date of your bus crash to file a claim for damages.

However, for accidents involving Chicago city buses or other government-run services, you may have only one year to file a legal claim for damages.

Insurance Coverage and Policy Limits

A policy limit is the maximum amount of money an insurance company will pay to a policyholder when an insured event occurs. Regardless of the severity of an injury, the insurance company is only obligated to pay the policy limit amount as per the policy agreement.

For instance, let's say someone survives a rollover accident on Highway 40 and has $200,000 in hospital bills. However, if the same person has an insurance policy with a policy limit of $50,000, his or her insurance company is only required to pay $50,000, even though the hospital bill is much higher.

If you have first-party insurance coverage, it covers your injuries even if another driver is at fault. You can claim from your own insurance company up to the limit of your policy. Alternatively, if the at-fault party has third-party insurance coverage, you may claim from his or her insurance company, up to the policy limits.

If your injuries go beyond the policy limit, and you require further compensation, you may have the option to take legal action against the insurance company or the at-fault party. If the insurance company agrees to pay you up to the policy limit, you can accept this offer and then file a lawsuit against the driver for the remaining amount. However, if the at-fault party is uninsured, you will have to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. Even if you win the lawsuit, you may not be able to obtain the damages if the driver has insufficient assets to pay you.

In case the insurance company denies settling, you have the option to take legal action against them and the driver to recover your damages. When it comes to personal injury cases, it's possible to receive a jury verdict that exceeds the policy limit. If this happens, the insurance company will pay up to the policy limit, and you'll have to seek the remaining amount directly from the other driver.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

In a bus accident, there can be several factors that contribute to the occurrence of the accident. Various parties may be held accountable for the incident. A lawyer may investigate the accident thoroughly to determine who is at fault. A lawyer may even help you to know how to get free answers to legal questions.

The bus driver, the driver of another vehicle involved in the accident, the bus owner, the company that manufactured the bus or its parts, or even the government (if the road conditions played a role in the accident) could all be considered responsible parties. Therefore, you will need a lawyer who has a good understanding of the law and can review all the relevant facts and evidence in your case to advise you on who can be held liable for your damages.

Apart from deciding who should be held accountable after an accident, you also need to ensure that you are claiming the full compensation that you are entitled to. It may not always be apparent how much you should be claiming. For example, there may be pain and suffering, mental distress, lost income, past and future medical expenses, home care costs, and even loss of consortium if someone dies in the accident. An experienced attorney will be able to calculate the full value of your claim to ensure that you claim and receive the maximum compensation available.

Average Compensation in Bus Accident Settlements in Illinois

Determining the average city bus accident settlement amount for a bus accident in Illinois is a complex task. There are multiple factors that affect the settlement amount, such as the extent of property damage, the severity of injuries, the strength of evidence, the liability of the parties involved, and the quality of legal representation. Depending on these factors, the settlement amount can vary from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars.

Severe Injuries With Long-Term Consequences

When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, the size of the vehicles involved can have an impact on the severity of injuries sustained by occupants. In collisions between buses and smaller vehicles such as passenger cars or SUVs, those in the smaller vehicles are often at a higher risk of suffering serious injuries. These injuries can require long-term medical treatment, rehabilitation, and in some cases, result in permanent disability or disfigurement. Victims of bus accidents may suffer from broken bones, torn ligaments, fractures, cuts, bruises, as well as serious injuries to the brain or spinal cord, burns, and physical fractures.

Long-term consequences of severe injuries suffered in a bus accident may include:

  • Reduction in mental abilities
  • Difficulty maintaining balance or coordinating movements
  • Paralysis in areas below a spinal injury
  • Amputation or loss of an extremity
  • Presence of scars on the body
  • Restrictions in movement due to injuries in soft tissues.

Injuries can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to work and take care of yourself. It may result in difficulty returning to your previous job, needing to work fewer hours, or even losing the ability to work. As a result, you may experience financial difficulties and require assistance with daily activities. If your injuries are severe, it may take longer to diagnose and treat, and the impact on your future health, welfare, and livelihood may be greater. In such cases, you might be entitled to higher compensation to cover the ongoing financial losses, pain, and suffering.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.