Personal injury lawsuits resulting from bus accidents have two (2) underlying issues — damages and liability. Is the negligent person responsible for your injuries? If so, what is the degree of your injuries and other losses incurred? Often, evidence of damages and liability comes from testimonies from medical experts, economists, and accident reconstruction experts. However, proving this is complicated. Here is where experienced personal injury attorneys from the Dallas Horton & Associates come in. We are dedicated to assisting victims of bus accidents in Las Vegas and are ready to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Why Evidence is Essential in Your Personal Injury Claim
If you want to win in your personal injury claim, there are pieces of evidence that are a must-have. Evidence proves that the bus collision took place, the defendant was responsible, and you sustained injuries. There are several methods of gathering evidence like records of the injuries, taking photos of the accident scene, or capturing videos of witnesses narrating how the bus accident occurred.
Nothing builds your personal injury claim like concrete evidence. Concrete evidence could assist you in establishing with ease if the bus operator was complying with the road safety laws or not.
Consult with an experienced legal expert immediately after the accident. The lawyer will collect and preserve the required evidence for your claim.
How to Preserve Your Bus Accident Evidence
Preserving your bus accident evident can help you win the lawsuit. Like any lawsuit, you should prove that the defendant caused your injuries or losses. After collecting evidence, you should preserve the details using the methods below:
- Keep all documents linked to your injuries and the bus collision: Make sure you store every bus crash-related record and document in one place. It assists you in accessing the reports with ease and fast. One of the best storage places is in a document folder labeled accordingly and then stored in a bedside drawer.
- Send a spoliation of evidence letter: Spoliation of evidence letter is a specific document your personal injury attorney sends the bus company requesting preservation of essential evidence. In case the bus firm destroys or loses the proof after receipt, it means trouble to the firm. Moreover, destroying evidence might imply that the firm is guilty and accountable for your injuries.
- Keep a journal of the accident's aftermath: With time, memories fade. A daily journal of your injuries could offer essential details. Pay attention to changes in your health condition and attend all medical appointments. Please note, not all bus accident injuries are physical or manifest immediately. Your emotional and mental state could contribute to receiving non-economic damages.
What are the Examples of the Required Evidence in Your Bus Accident?
Your main goal following the bus accident is to recover and return to your normal life as soon as possible. Typically, taking images of the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, and dealing with the insurance provider comes after returning to work and medical treatment.
Essential proof gradually gets damaged and loses value in the claim every day. Discussed in the sections below are different types of evidence, your skilled attorney should present in your settlement negotiations or trial.
Most bus companies in Las Vegas require motorists to keep logbooks. A logbook shows the number of hours a motorist has spent on the road and during stops, breaks, and rests. Your skilled attorney should be able to access the logbook. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service, drivers are allowed to drive for a specific number of hours.
Fatigued driving is a leading cause of road accidents. A study conducted by the AAA (American Automobile Association) Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that three hundred and twenty-eight thousand fatigued driving accidents happen every year. That is more than thrice the police-reported cases. Additionally, the study estimated that fatigued driving caused one hundred and nine thousand injuries and six thousand and four hundred deaths.
The Vehicles Involved in the Bus Accident
Following the bus collision, your lawyer can stop the bus company from repairing their bus before experts assess it. The experts will evaluate the situation and determine what caused your accident. Moreover, the insurance provider shouldn't repair or salvage your motor vehicle before you talk with your attorney.
Be sure to take the following images immediately after the accident:
- Photos of motor vehicles involved in the bus accident: Take the car's proximity to the accident scene and each other. Take their positions within a larger view; their relationship with essential elements is documented.
- Capture your vehicle's damage close-ups: If your car's bumper or rear quarter panel is damaged, take a photo. If possible, frame the images to include your license plate number, to prove it is your vehicle that is damaged. Make sure you capture photographs from various angles.
- Take images of broken glasses and other damaged vehicle parts: Look around for debris that came off due to the accident impact. Be sure to take the photos from both wide and close angles. It will help know which vehicles the parts originated from.
Capture damage to other cars: Your accident photographs should be detailed. Take photos of the license plate number of other vehicles. Also, include paint from your motor vehicle transferred during impact.
The investigating police officer who responds to the call of help at the bus accident scene generates a police report. It is a detailed summary of details about the accident, containing the opinions of the police officer and facts about your accident.
What Does the Police Report Contain?
At the bus accident scene, you will notice the police officers:
- Measuring distances
- Writing notes
- Taking pictures
- Talking to different people
- Inspecting cars
The law enforcer performs these tasks so that they can collect information and draft a police report later. Often the police report will contain the following information:
- Location, time, and date of the accident
- Identifying information for all parties involved, including names, insurance information, addresses, and phone numbers
- Identifying details for all witnesses
- Lightning, road, and weather conditions at the accident scene
- Image of the accident scene
- Statement from witnesses and involved parties
- Violation of the law and citation
- Where the vehicles involved in the collision are damaged
- Fault determination and opinion on what caused the crash
The information in the police report could be an opinion or a fact. For instance, location, time, and date of the accident are facts. Accountability determinations, on the other hand, are the police officer's opinions.
How to Obtain a Police Report
There are two (2) methods of getting the police report. The first one will cost you money while the other one might not.
To acquire the paid copy, you should request a copy from the police department that drafted your accident report. Before leaving the accident scene, be sure to get a receipt with the report's identification number. Then call the law enforcement agency and pay the required administrative fee.
If you are not aware of the police report's identification number, you could give your name together with the date, location, and time of the accident to help find the police report.
To get the free copy of the report, you can ask your insurance provider claim representative to check if you have the report and then ask them for a copy.
Once the bus accident is reported, the insurance firm will conduct its investigation. A police report is one of the things the insurer will request. As previously stated, the report has a lot of information about the accident hence a resource for further investigations.
Police reports are a vital piece of evidence in claim settlement negotiations.
Proving Bus Accident Injuries with Medical Receipts and Bills
When proving injuries and recovering damages, it is essential to show the financial consequence of your injuries. The financial losses are known as economic damages. Proving economic damages requires establishing your injuries with medical receipts and bills. They are objective grounds for showing the actual losses incurred due to another person's negligence.
Medical receipts are proof that the costs were incurred and could be used at trial. They also prove that treatment services were rendered at a given time and date. It assists in establishing the size of your claim to boost pain and suffering damages at trial.
After you have taken photos showing your injuries, you require copies of medical reports from your physician. Keep them safe for use when the court requests precise evidence. Be sure to make additional copies and share them with your attorney.
Because only a medical report can show the seriousness of your injuries, don't forget to include:
- Additional hospital costs from a radiologist who interpreted tests
- Split hospital costs for x-rays, CT scans, and imaging tests
- Money spent while buying bandages and crutches
- Ambulance costs
- Emergency hospital charges
Unless the receipts are well documented and kept, it might be hard or even impossible to demonstrate to the jury or insurance provider that expenses were incurred. Luckily, in most cases, health facilities keep bill documentation that could be collected and presented to the jury or insurance adjuster. However, things happen like the bankruptcy of a hospital. Therefore, keeping copies of the receipts yourself is a brilliant idea.
Please note, medical receipts differ from medical bills in terms of the information provided. While the medical service provider provides both an award of damages requires more than just a medical bill. Therefore, you must be ready to provide evidence of the amount spent through receipts.
On top of proper record keeping, you should be ready to prove medical necessity and reasonableness as far as bus accident medical costs are concerned. Medical necessity and reasonableness could be proved through your testimony or doctor testimony.
The plaintiff's testimony should show:
- The foundation of receipts and bills introductions by testifying about physician's visits and medical bills from the visits
- Nature of the injury suffered
- How the defendant caused the injury
- The degree and nature of medical services received
- The total cost of the medical services
- Proof that the costs were reasonable through bill payment
Although it isn't always the case, the plaintiff's testimony could sometimes be enough for the medical expenses damage award. Your medical doctor should be able to testify that:
- The treatment and services offered were necessary for your injuries
- The costs were reasonable for the medical services offered
- The nature and degree of the injuries
- The bus accident causes the injuries
Also, an expert knowledgeable about medical expenses and costs like an economist can testify about your medical expenses, probable cost, and the services' trends.
Expert Witness Testimony as Evidence for Pain and Suffering Damages
One of the non-economic damages suffered by bus accident victims is pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages can originate from mental anguish and physical pain and involve anxiety, emotional distress, loss of life enjoyment, and psychological disorder. It could also manifest in physical signs and symptoms like heart palpitation and sleep disturbances.
Irrespective of the subjectivity that comes with pain and suffering, expert witnesses play a significant role in establishing the damages.
First, the cause of the pain must be proved to determine the permanency and severity. An experienced medical expert should be able to show your current and future pain and suffering. They must testify to a reasonable level of medical certainty whether the pain exists, to what degree, and for how long. Secondly, a pain management expert will also establish the curative measure you should undergo to manage the emotional anguish.
Since the mental anguish is an unnoticed pain, the psychiatrist or psychologist is valuable in assisting the court in understanding the issue. The testimony can also help set the general parameters of calculating your pain and suffering damages.
If you were injured in a bus accident, you could be entitled to lost wages compensation for hospitalization periods and the time you have spent away from work recovering. If you can return to work but cannot perform your job responsibilities because of the injury, the difference between your previous earnings and the current earnings should also be compensated.
Receiving compensation for the lost wages requires you to prove that:
- Your lost wages are due to the bus accident, and
- The accurate total cost of the losses suffered.
The first element needs evidence that another person's negligence caused you to lose income. Typically, it involves medical evidence and testimony proving your injuries, health, medical treatment, and limitations following the accident and how these factors affect your ability to return to work.
The second element requires proof substantiating the lost wages amount you are seeking. Although you could testify your pay rate and the total days you missed work, other evidence can be instrumental in supporting the testimony. They include:
- Testimony from the human resources manager or employer: Obtain a letter from your employer showing your identification information, compensation, employment status, and the total hours of work you missed from the accident's date to recovery.
- Lost opportunity and income proof: The key here is to prove the income you could have made from the collision date to recovery. You can submit your 1099 forms, tax returns from the past year, business invoices, receipts, and correspondence.
- Medical document: You should submit a document that shows your medical condition. It could be a disability slip or your physician's note that recommends taking time off from work.
Remember to include all the benefits you are losing due to the collision, including vacation time, sick days, missed opportunity to interview for a promotion, year-end bonuses, and use of your company's vehicle.
If you are a freelancer, contractor, or self-employed, recovering lost wages compensation can be difficult. Erratic working, variable hours, and working for a given number of companies means your claim will involve a complicated procedure. Proper record-keeping is essential. The more financial proof a plaintiff has as far as bank statements and tax is concerned, the higher the likelihood of receiving the compensation they deserve. Additionally, you might want to consider engaging a personal injury attorney or a forensic economist.
Maintenance and Inspection Records
Buses should be inspected according to the authority's guidelines. The driver is then given an inspection record to confirm the inspection is done. Different bus systems inspected include:
- Braking systems and fluids
- Reflectors and lightning system
- The steering wheel
- Wheels, rims, and tires
- Rearview mirrors
- Emergency safety equipment
- Windshield wipers
The bus owner or driver should keep repairs and maintenance records. Should an accident occur, the records play a significant role in determining if the previous repair caused the collision. Sometimes, a mechanic tampers with bus functions, and unknowingly, the motorist gets involved in a bus accident after the poor maintenance.
Using Smartphone Data to Prove Distracted Driving
Distracted driving conduct, including talking on a phone or texting while driving, is one of the causes of bus accidents in Las Vegas. Nevada has banned phone use while driving, and a motorist who breaks the law should be held accountable for any losses incurred should an accident occur.
When there is no witness to the collision, determining accountability in your accident could be complicated unless you have an attorney. Any competent attorney will subpoena phone records to confirm if the motorist was using their phone. If the records show the driver received a text or picked a call when your accident took place, it might be enough to prove responsibility in your bus accident.
Surveillance Cameras from Nearby Enterprises
With technological advancements, businesses today can install surveillance cameras outside and inside their companies. The cameras record whatever occurs around. Suppose your accident occurred near such a premise, note down the address. Your attorney can lawfully retrieve these recordings and use them as proof against the defendant
Do Not Overlook the Importance of a Witness Statement
Using witnesses testimonies builds your personal injury claim. Witnesses could be bystanders, business owners, and workers of companies who saw your bus accident occur. Gather their names and contact information immediately after the accident as your lawyer might want to interview them and have them sign affidavits. Sometimes it is hard to find witnesses as people change religion, names, or move to another county. Therefore, your lawyer should keep the interview safe until the case is closed.
Data Captured by the Black Box
According to the FMCSA guidelines, buses have electronic onboard recording devices that record the vehicle's system functions. Information captured includes:
- The motor vehicle's velocity during the collision
- Braking details when the crash happened
- Bus inspection and maintenance records
- Bus movement before the accident
- The number of hours the driver has driven the bus before your accident
When a bus accident happens, the black box captures the details that are instrumental in proving whether malfunction caused the collision.
Your legal expert should move fast and retrieve the information. It is because current information is erased once new data is captured.
Other Driver's Official Information
Both your lawyer and the investigating police officer will require the other driver's information while determining fault and investigating the accident. This information includes:
- Driver's qualification: Under the FMCSA directives, bus companies should have information about the driver like qualification, annual review of driving records, employment application, road test certification, and traffic violation certification. The law requires the bus company to produce the qualification file upon request by the police or your lawyer.
- Driver's training file: A training file has certificates and documents that indicate the motorist's specialized driving records and achievements. Any experienced personal injury attorney should request this file to confirm whether the bus driver has experience and qualifications.
- Drugs and alcohol tests: It is a crime to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Las Vegas. If a drunk motorist caused your accident, the driver should be held accountable for the collision. Also, your attorney can request documentation to check the history of the driver with substance abuse.
Find a Bus Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A bus accident can cause you life-threatening and severe injuries. You are also likely to face expensive medical bills exacerbated by the inability to return to work. Like most victims, you might file a personal injury claim for compensation against the liable person. However, proving the defendant caused your injuries and losses is complicated and overwhelming and should be handled by legal experts. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Dallas Horton & Associates can help you gather the required evidence and address your worries. Call us today at 702-380-3100 to book your initial consultation.