Getting involved in a bus accident kicks in a moment of confusion to victims, perhaps because of the shock. You want to remain calm after a bus accident in Florida and follow a particular process to help you seek compensation.
If you are involved in a Florida bus accident, you definitely can – and should – gather evidence to claim for injury compensation. This gives you an edge over the plaintiff, who has none. The evidence is what proves that you incurred injuries, and the defendants were at fault.
You also stand a better chance to receive the compensation you deserve if you hire an attorney, and we at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney are ready to help you through this process. Hiring an attorney is crucial in several ways. For instance, severe injuries could prevent you from collecting evidence, leave alone talking to witnesses. In this event, a competent personal injury attorney is the go-to point of contact. While the ambulance rushes you to receive treatment, your attorney jumps on the scene and helps collect evidence.
What to do When You Are Involved in a Bus Accident
Unlike four-passenger cars, bus accidents hold many occupants. In the event of an accident, a bus accident causes more injuries than a fender bender.
Whether you are an occupant or another motorist, you are probably thinking about what you should do after a bus accident happens. It is frustrating, puzzling, and devastating. The chaotic nature of road crashes makes you forget important things that could help you when making claims. However, the following steps can help you:
Seek Treatment Immediately
Bus accident injuries are life-threatening, and the more the victims delay, the higher the chances of fatalities.
Try and get out of the bus as soon as the accident happens. Big buses have larger fuel tanks and more sophisticated electronic systems. The chances of a bus exploding shortly after an accident remains high. Also, other vehicles can cause more accidents nearby; thus, increasing the chances of you getting trapped in the wreckage.
After you are out of the bus, you need to seek medical care immediately, regardless of your injury. Shock and confusion can shadow pain, especially if you suffer internal injuries. If the injuries are severe, you need to get to the hospital by ambulance as fast as possible.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement Officers
If you suffer slight injuries, emergency medical attention is unnecessary. Here, you want to call the police and report the bus accident. Don’t leave the scene before the law enforcers file a report. The bus driver should report the accident; but don't trust they will report, especially if they are at fault.
When talking to the law enforcers, offer any information and all that you can remember. Make sure they document your side of the story but avoid providing information that the defendant or at-fault driver could use against you in a Florida court.
Talk to Witnesses
According to Florida law, witnesses are a crucial part of a bus accident case. Witnesses can make or break your injury claims.
After the bus accident, witnesses are your fellow travelers, in the bus, and onlookers who saw the accident occur.
At times, victims are enjoying their sleep when a bus accident occurs. So, they cannot tell how an accident happens, leave alone which driver was at fault. In this scenario, the onlookers can offer more insight, so note down their contact and information.
Collect Any Piece of Evidence You Find
Pieces of evidence are a must if you want to win any case in the court. Evidence is what tells the judge that, indeed, an accident occurred, you suffered injuries, and the defendant was at fault.
There are many ways you could gather evidence. These include photographing the scene of the accident and nearby areas. Take pictures of the skid marks, stoplights, and traffic signs. Video record the witnesses as they narrate what happened or what they saw when the bus accident occurred.
Another evidence that you should record is your injuries. Your lawyer needs these to build a solid injury case in court.
Document All Damages and Injuries
After documenting your damages and injuries, you must keep the records safe. These records include bills, receipts, and other documents that help compute precise financial loss and damages following a bus accident.
The types of bills included in damages are like doctors’ appointments, car-fuel bills, physiotherapy sessions, car-repair fees, transportation costs, loss of wages, and all other extra costs incurred following the bus accident.
Call Your Personal Injury Attorney
It is human nature to oppose when at the wrong. The insurer of the bus driver will most likely fight your case, even if you provide concrete evidence. A small omission could give them the power to deny you the rightful compensation.
Examples of omissions include leaving out information about the at-fault driver, the employer of the bus driver, the bus maker, or the authorities responsible for poor road conditions.
All that you need is an expert attorney who has in-depth experience with bus accidents. Find and hire a personal injury attorney in Florida who comprehends the statutes of this state. Here, you are confident that your lawyer will leave no stone unturned. As a result, you recover maximum damages and compensation.
Why Should You Collect Evidence After a Florida Bus Accident?
Road accidents, fender bender accidents included, can have a toll on your health and wellbeing. However, bus accidents are catastrophic, especially when you are in a smaller vehicle. As much as the case appears upfront, some parties could bring up issues, especially at-fault ones, to compromise your injury lawsuit.
How Important Is Evidence?
Documenting and safeguarding evidence are among the imperative parts of all criminal investigations. You also need evidence when submitting an injury claim following a bus accident.
Immediate collection of evidence is vital for your personal injury lawsuit because several documents and records linking to your claim are stored for a short while.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) needs bus companies to store accounts of status-of-duty, for every bus operator, for a period not exceeding six months.
Additionally, the FMCSR requires bus companies to store annual documentation of vehicle inspection for a period not exceeding one year and two months beginning the day of the report.
Why Do You Need Evidence?
Nothing can cement your personal injury claim more than concrete evidence. But you only need to collect irrefutable evidence. Correct evidence can help prove with ease that the bus operator complies with road safety laws and regulations. Undeniable evidence could reveal if the bus driver were at fault immediately before the crash.
Getting in touch with a reputable personal injury lawyer shortly after the bus accidents is imperative if you want to win against your defendant. The attorney helps gather and preserve crucial evidence needed for your claims.
Remember that delaying to reach out to your attorney could reduce the possibility of you receiving the compensation you require.
What Type of Evidence Should Car Accident Victims Collect Following A Crash?
The primary goal after a bus accident is healing and getting back to a healthy life. Usually, treatment, physiotherapy sessions, and retaining your job precedes running after witnesses, photographing accident scenes, or even going after your insurer.
Vital evidence slowly gets destroyed and loses value in your case every sunrise. A competent injury attorney knows the most critical evidence to collect and which not to gather.
If available, below are the type of evidence you, your loved one, or attorney should collect:
The Automobiles Involved in The Accident
After an accident, your attorney can prevent the bus company from repairing the bus before your experts assess it. Also, your insurance provided must not salvage or repair your vehicle before you discuss it with your personal injury attorney.
You also should consult an accident expert to join the dots and determine the precise cause of the accident. A reconstruction expert can determine the velocity of the bus when the crash happened.
Many bus companies in the US require that drivers keep logbooks. These logbooks document the exact time drivers spend on the road and during rests and stops. Your attorney could get access to these logbooks, which are vital to show the violation of a statute.
Official Records and Reports
You need to make or request copies of the official documents about the crash from the police, insurance providers, hospital records, and other bills linking to the accident.
Also, you could get copies of police reports via mail or online from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Request your health caregiver to provide you with copies of body scans and x-rays, medical tests, diagnoses, physiotherapy bills, hospital appointments, and impending surgery and treatments.
Record the conversations between you and your insurer, the defendant’s insurer, claims-adjusters, and make copies of reports/ letters you receive from them.
Black Box Data
Like airplanes, buses have black boxes that capture all the operations from a bus’s sensors. Black box data is fundamental in the event of an accident as it reveals information like the throttle position, use of emergency breaks, velocity of the bus, and many others.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2014, ordered bus and carrier companies to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all buses of their fleets. ELDs have a similar operating principle as a black box recorder.
Usually, the information on the black box is deleted when new information is recorded. That said, your attorney should make sure that the bus is not operational until experts download the data.
The type of information captured and stored in electronic onboard data recorders include:
- The velocity of the bus at the time of the accident
- The braking information when the accident occurred
- The bus’s maintenance and inspection data
- The bus’s prior history of repairs
- The hours or days the bus driver operated the bus before the accident
- Information about the movement of the bus before the accident
Your lawyer can help file a protective order to prevent the bus company from destroying the black box data.
Cell Phone Data
You want to determine whether, at the time of the bus accident, the driver was using their mobile phones. To get and verify such information, your attorney must get a court order to retrieve cell phone-usage data from the service provider of the driver.
After subpoenaing this call data, the court can determine if using the phone was the primary cause of the bus accident. Remember that such information is available for a limited time, so you want your attorney to move with speed.
Florida law requires law enforcers to record information of any witnesses present when the bus accident occurred. While the evidence is safe with the police, your attorney also needs to record the witnesses’ testimonies.
See, people change names, possibly when getting married or changing religion. It is so hard to find them at this point. Other witnesses can move to other countries, or the memories of the bus accidents could fade.
Owing to this reason, your injury lawyer should interview the witnesses and have them sign affidavits. The attorney should also keep the interviews safe until trial or confession.
Physical Evidence at The Accident Scene
High definition images save accident victims much stress when filing compensation claims. These are undeniable evidence of the damage the bus accident caused to you and your car.
Accurate measurements are also vital after a bus accident. If you suffer severe injuries, your lawyer could take pictures of yaw marks, gouge marks, and skid marks.
Ensure you capture wide-angle pictures of the whole scene. If possible, make use of your smartphone’s timestamp and GPS features to include the precise location, time, and date information on the images.
Videos, too, are good shreds of evidence, but images are easier to zero in on specific elements and evaluate. Also, pictures could instigate sympathy for you; thus, building your injury and damage claims.
Details of the Accident
When noting down the information of a bus accident, there is nothing like excessive details. If you are in a good state of mind and healthy after the crash, you can record the details.
But if you sustain severe injuries, and leave in an ambulance, request your friend, attorney, or a loved one to come at the scene and document as much information as possible.
The type of information that your injury attorney might need to argue your case includes:
- Name of the company that manages the bus
- The bus driver’s name and contact details
- Information on the bus driver’s insurance provider
- The number/ license plate and registration details of the bus
- Location, time, and date the bus accident occurred
- The possible causes of the bus accident and how it happened from your viewpoint
Document these details somewhere secure, like on your journal or smartphone for future reference. Ring the law enforcers to record an official report of the bus accident. It is recommended to note down these details in case the police omit some of the crucial information.
Documenting your Injuries and Pain
Before leaving the bus accident scene, you must record all visible injuries using a quality camera or smartphone.
Evidence of pain and suffering is different from that of injuries. Here, you need a highly skilled lawyer who can use the circumstances to your benefit.
Apart from the nurse’s notes and your doctor’s reports, using descriptive and dated notes to prove your suffering is essential.
You want to maintain a dates journal where you note down:
- The amount of pain experienced daily
- Ill effects following the use of prescribed drugs
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Weird and scary dreams
- Emotional distress
- Financial loss and worries of continued decline in the future
- Impotence and erectile dysfunction
How Can You Preserve Evidence for A Claim?
The preservation of evidence after a bus accident helps you with your injury case. Like any other lawsuit, the plaintiff, before getting compensated, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender committed the criminal offense or cause harm and damage to you.
Speaking of bus accidents, the juror could ask for particular evidence during the trial. If you had not collected that evidence, then you are likely to lose the case.
After gathering evidence after a bus accident, you need to preserve the information in the following ways:
Request for Copies of Your Medical Treatment Reports
You want to take pictures of you showing injuries after a bus accident. Adding to these, you need to request copies of medical reports from your doctor. Keep these in a safe place for use when the juror asks for that precise evidence.
It is worth noting that only medical reports can prove the severity of harm caused to you. You can make extra copies and give them to your lawyer. In case the doctor is not available at the time of trial, you are armed with enough evidence.
Since your case involves personal injuries, you want to take caution when making copies of medical records. Do not ignore any medical costs like:
- Extra hospital bills from the radiologists who interpreted every test
- Emergency hospital fees
- Split hospital bills for imaging tests, CT scans, and X-rays
- Costs incurred when purchasing things like crutches and bandages
- Costs incurred like taxi fare to and from your doctor’s appointment
- Place copies of bills for the nurse who attended you at the emergency room separately
Obtain Copies of Accident Reports from Law Enforcers
A police report in one crucial document you can use as evidence for your injury case. The report entails information like the driver’s contact information, prior history of arrests, and citations offered.
Before the police leave the accident scene, you should request copies of the report. With the case of Florida, you can request these copies from your local DMV.
Your attorney needs copies of these reports, too, for use when you cannot attend court proceedings.
Safeguard Copies of Any Document Linking to The Bus Accident and Your Injuries
You want to store all your accident-related records in one place. Proper storage of these pieces of evidence helps you access particular documents fast and with ease. An excellent place to store copies of shreds of evidence is in a document folder, label the folder accordingly, then place it in your bedside drawer.
Use Electronic Means to Record and Store Evidence
After making copies of your accident documents, the next step you should take is to back up them electronically. These backups ensure access to evidence even after you lose paper documents. You can print out the documents again, even after many years.
Electronic records are made through scanning of all documents via a smartphone or a scanner and storing the scanned documents in your email or cloud storage. It is even easier, cheaper, and safer to send these documents afterward to your personal injury lawyer.
Send a Spoliation of Evidence Letter
The 'spoliation of evidence letters' refers to a particular document that is forwarded to the bus company from your lawyer requesting the preservation of all crucial evidence.
Should the bus company lose or destroy the evidence after your lawyer has sent them a spoliation of evidence letter, then this means trouble to the company. Again, spoiling evidence could say that the bus company is guilty and liable for your personal injury claims.
Find a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
In the event of a bus accident, there are many onlookers and witnesses. After the accident has happened, there are people like law enforcement officers, medics, insurance adjusters, and fire brigade officers.
Many months after a bus accident, injured victims realize that they lack evidence required to hold the bus company responsible for the harm caused to them. We at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney want you to avoid a similar mistake by hiring. Not only will we help collect enough evidence, but also safeguard it for future use and build a strong claim. If you are involved in a bus accident, get in touch with us at 904-494-8242.