The Nebraska Department of Transportation estimates that 228 bus crashes occurred on Nebraska roads in 2017, resulting in more than 60 serious injuries and one fatality. These statistics represent a slight decline from 2016, but overall, bus crashes and injuries have been on the rise in Nebraska for the past decade. Whether riding a public bus, a charter bus, or a school bus, being involved in a bus accident can be a traumatic experience that oftentimes results in serious injuries and significant medical bills.
If you or your child has been involved in a bus accident, you need to contact a skilled bus accident lawyer who can navigate the complicated insurance and legal issues that surround these accidents. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group at (308) 633-4444 for a free consultation and to learn about your rights and how we can serve you.
Common Injuries from Bus Accidents
The exact circumstances of a bus accident, such as speed upon impact and location, will determine the severity and types of injuries that accident victims may experience. Bus accidents may only result in minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but injuries can also be severe and life-altering. Some common examples include:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Head trauma that might lead to traumatic brain injury or other brain damage
- Neck injuries, including whiplash and other soft tissue damage
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
Injuries sustained in a school bus accident will typically be more severe because the impact will more harshly affect the small frames of children, especially if not properly seated or restrained.
Liability in Nebraska Bus Accidents
Insurance companies, courts, investigators, and others might struggle to determine liability in motor vehicle accidents. It’s even more difficult when the accident involves a bus. Oftentimes, a bus is owned, operated, and maintained by different parties, which might result in shared liability if an accident occurs. Parties who may potentially be held partially or fully liable for a bus accident include:
- Bus drivers who are distracted, speeding, or violating other traffic regulations, driving under the influence, or driving while fatigued might be liable.
- Owners, which might include private charter companies, municipalities, or school districts, might share liability if they haven’t hired competent drivers, trained them well, or adequately maintained their buses.
- Third party maintenance companies who are under contract to maintain a bus might be at fault if their negligence results in an accident.
- Bus manufacturers, companies that manufacture parts for buses, or any other party in the chain of distribution of a bus might be liable if a defective bus or bus part causes an accident.
- Other motorists who are driving recklessly, drinking and driving, driving while distracted, or violating other traffic regulations might be at fault.
- Government bodies, although rare, might be at fault if a poorly maintained road led to a bus accident. This includes the State of Nebraska, counties, and cities. If cities own and maintain buses for public transport or on a university campus, they might also share liability in a bus accident.
Seeking Compensation in Nebraska Bus Accidents
Nebraska courts might award punitive damages to punish liable parties in extreme cases of gross negligence or intentional harm. If you are eligible to recover damages for losses incurred as a result of a bus accident, the courts most often award compensatory damages. Some of the most common recoverable damages include:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, radiology, surgery, medication, and more
- Future medical expenses in the case of a permanent disability or an injury that requires multiple surgeries or a long recovery time
- Lost wages and benefits from time missed at work as a result of the injury
- Lost earning capacity when an injury prohibits a victim from returning to their job
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering
Defense Strategies in Nebraska Bus Accident Cases
Nebraska is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that courts distribute fault to all parties in a lawsuit. If a court finds a plaintiff partially to blame for his or her own injury, the court will reduce the award accordingly. If the court finds the plaintiff 50 percent or more at fault for his or her injury, Nebraska law prohibits the plaintiff from recovering any compensation. Defense teams commonly attempt to shift blame to a victim to avoid paying damages, but this is difficult to do when an accident involves passengers in a bus. The defense will attempt to shift blame by making claims like that:
- The driver wasn’t following the rules of the road.
- The driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The driver was distracted or fatigued.
The defense might also try to reduce the value of a claim by suggesting that the plaintiff’s injuries aren’t as severe as claimed or that the accident did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will anticipate these defense strategies, advocate for you, and fight to secure compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Nebraska has a four-year statute of limitations for motor vehicle accidents that begins on the date of injury, so it’s imperative to seek legal counsel as soon as possible following your accident.
Seek the Legal Counsel You Need for a Nebraska Bus Accident
Personal injury firms typically offer free case evaluations, during which a qualified attorney will listen to the details of your case and determine your eligibility to recover damages. These cases are typically handled on contingency, which means your lawyer will recover attorney fees out of any settlement or court award that you receive.
If you or your child has been injured in a bus accident in Nebraska, contact a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with the complexities of bus accident cases. Our experienced legal team will handle the details of your case while you focus on healing and recovery. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and to learn about your rights and how we can help you seek compensation.