How to Claim After a Bus Accident

If you or a loved one gets hurt in a bus accident and needs to file a personal injury lawsuit, one of the most important considerations in the case is whether the bus was owned by a public agency or a private company.  

New Jersey Transit is a public entity that runs the public transportation in the northern New Jersey area. According to their site, their bus system boasts 2,027 buses on 236 routes, providing millions of rides every year. If you or a loved on is in an accident involving a New Jersey Transit bus, there are certain steps that must be taken to preserve your right to pursue a claim.  You must file, within 90 days of the accrual of the cause of action, i.e. the date of the accident, what is called a “Notice of Tort Claim.”  Here is the Notice of Tort Claim that can be served against the State of New Jersey.  Regardless of the governmental entity, however, your Notice of Tort Claim must include:

  • your name and address;
  • the date, location, and the circumstances of the occurrence that gave rise to your claim;
  • a general description of the injury, damage, or loss incurred to the extent that information is available; 
  • the name(s) of the public entity employee who caused the injury or loss, if known; and• the amount claimed as of the date of the presentation of the claim.

After providing the proper notice, you must wait another six months before filing a lawsuit against the governmental entity.  This gives the governmental entity the ability to investigate your claim and perhaps offer to settle the claim before a lawsuit is filed.

These steps do not need to be taken if the accident involved a private corporation.  In addition to New Jersey Transit, numerous private corporations provide bus services in and around the New Jersey area including Peter Pan, MegaBus, or Greyhound.  If you were involved in an accident involving a bus owned by a private entity, there is no obligation to file a “Notice of Tort Claim.” 
If you were injured in a bus accident, contact our firm for a free consultation. We have an extensive experience dealing with New Jersey bus accident cases.   For example, we were able to settle a case for $12.75 million for our client, who was hit by a New Jersey Transit bus while crossing the street. This is believed to be one of the largest settlements every paid by New Jersey Transit.  We recently settled another bus accident lawsuit for $10 million.

How many Bus Accidents Happen in New Jersey per Year?

Many people use buses as part of their daily lives. Between commuting to work, sending children to school, driving behind them on the roads, and chartering sports teams to tournaments and competitions, buses are among the most used modes of transportation in the United States. For the most part, buses are an affordable and safe mode of transportation.  However, buses do have the potential to be dangerous, and some accidents involving buses can even be fatal.  

Although the numbers vary, in response to a 2011 bus accident that killed 14 people, the National Transportation Safety Board conducted a six-month safety study, “Report on Curbside Motorcoach Safety.” Some of the major findings of that study were that, during 2009, the bus occupant fatality rate was 45 deaths per 100,000 accidents.  Between 2005 and 2010, the average number of motorcoach or bus accidents annually was 1,003.  Thirty-two accidents were fatal, resulting in 44 deaths.  505 bus accidents were nonfatal and 467 involved property only.  

The cases we have handled are a testament to the fact that bus accidents can happen. And when they do, the results can be life-changing.  

How Do I Prove a Bus Accident?

Proving liability in bus accident cases will vary depending on the circumstances. The bus operator, the bus company, or a parts’ manufacturer may be liable for resulting damages depending on the details of the accident. However, in school bus accidents, the district the school is in, or a bus maintenance company (if separate), may be held responsible for damages. Typically, liability is based on a theory of negligence. A bus operator can be negligent in a variety of ways. For example, a negligent bus operator may disregard traffic laws, ignore road signs, abuse speed limits, or disregard safe driving practices. A bus company can be negligent in failing to train or supervise its employees. Claims against commercial buses and public entities also fall under this higher standard of care for passenger safety. Proving liability can be difficult and will often require the assistance of a seasoned personal injury attorney with the experience necessary to litigate these cases.  At Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, we work closely with our clients to ensure that they receive the financial compensation they deserve. For example, we obtained a $6 million settlement for our client who was run over by a school bus.  The bus driver claimed that our client ran in front of the bus. Through our efforts, we were able to get the bus driver to admit that he lied to the police and that he caused the accident.

How Much Can You Get From a Bus Accident in NJ

There is no exact amount you can or will receive from a bus accident. How much compensation you may be able to get for a bus accident claim depends on who was responsible for the accident, the circumstances that gave rise to the accident, and what type of damages you suffered. Depending on the details of your accident and your injuries, the following damages may be recoverable in a bus accident case:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering

We have handled a wide variety of bus accident cases. Our bus accident attorneys have had success in litigating such cases, such as the $12.75 million settlement for a man hit by a New Jersey Transit Bus while crossing the street, a $10 million settlement for a woman who lost part of her leg in a New Jersey Transit Bus accident, a $ 6 million settlement for a pedestrian seriously injured in a bus accident case, a $2.3 million settlement for a man struck by a New Jersey Transit bus, and a $2 million settlement for a man struck by a New Jersey Transit bus. Contact Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman for a free consultation.

Steps to Claim After a Bus Accident

If you are in a bus accident, whether you an occupant inside the bus, a pedestrian, or in a car that has crashed with a bus, you should do the following: 

  • Call the authorities: If you can, call 911 right away. The sooner emergency responders get to the scene, the better the outcomes for everyone involved. 
  • Get medical attention: Before you do anything else, you must seek medical attention. EMTs at the scene will assess if you are okay to walk and move around and can send you to a hospital if they think something serious is wrong with you. Do not forgo medical attention because of the perceived cost. Your health is too important.
  • Document the situation: If you are able, take pictures of the scene and your injuries. Get the names and contact information of witnesses and other riders. Write down everything you can think of about the crash, as it could be helpful information later, and you may forget details later on.
  • Do not make statements or talk to anyone about your injuries: Keep all conversations to the basics of obtaining contact information. You do not want to inadvertently waive your rights or hurt your case by having a casual conversation with the wrong person.

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, particularly if the bus accident involved a New Jersey Transit bus.  Our firm recently obtained a $10 million settlement for our client who was injured while retrieving her luggage from a New Jersey Transit bus. As our client was in the luggage compartment, the bus drove away causing severe injuries which required partial amputation of our client’s leg. 

Victim of a Bus Accident in New Jersey? Contact Mazie Slater

A bus accident can be catastrophic. The passengers can be seriously injured or killed, and the driver or passengers of any vehicles that are hit by the bus can also sustain life-changing or deadly injuries. Buses do not always have seat belts or any sort of restraining systems, so when there is a bus accident, the passengers are thrown around the bus like rag dolls. They can hit the numerous metal parts of the interior of the bus, such as the seat frames, handrails, sidewalls, doors, or even the ceiling if the bus overturns. When a bus crashes on a busy New Jersey road or highway, it usually hits more than one other vehicle and can cause a chain reaction of many wrecked vehicles with injured or fatally wounded drivers and passengers.

As New Jersey bus accident attorneys who regularly represent individuals injured in bus accidents, we know that liability for personal injuries or death sustained from a bus accident depends on the circumstances of the bus driver, the maintenance company, the tour bus operator, and the bus company could all share in the blame. They all have the responsibility of making sure their passengers and other motorists are safe.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident that resulted in personal injury or death, contact the New Jersey bus accident attorneys at Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman at (973) 228-9898. We are ready to discuss your accident and aggressively pursue you rights to far compensation for your injuries or the death of anyone close to you.