Denver County’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) is the public agency managing the various public transportation options throughout the Denver Metro area. Since Denver area streets are full of RTD buses, there’s a chance that an accident with one of these large buses may strike anyone in the area.
If an RTD bus causes your injuries, you can sue the City of Denver for negligence. Local bus accident attorney can answer your questions and advise you on all your legal rights, allowing you to make an informed decision about how to exercise your rights.
Who Is at Fault When a Bus Accident Occurs?
A variety of different parties can be at fault for a bus accident. Sometimes multiple parties are responsible. The at-fault party is typically the party or parties who acted negligently leading up to the accident. In most motor vehicle accidents, it’s a motorist.
However, it can be several other parties as well, such as:
- The bus driver
- A driver’s employer if the driver was performing the duties of their job when they caused the accident, such as with a city bus
- The manufacturer of a vehicle or its parts as they are responsible for making and distributing safe goods
- A municipality in charge of road repairs, construction, and sign and light maintenance
- Another driver who was or even wasn’t involved in the accident itself
When you hire a skilled bus accident lawyer, they have the time and resources to investigate your accident immediately. They know that you can lose valuable evidence supporting your claim in a matter of hours or days, and they won’t jeopardize your compensation. An attorney can also investigate how your accident happened and identify and hold the liable parties accountable for their negligence.
What Is Governmental Immunity?
Generally, governmental immunity is the legal doctrine and statutes that provide municipalities, such as the City or County of Denver and other local government entities, immunity from tort-based claims.
In other words, the law protects certain government employees and entities from personal injury lawsuits, such as:
- A public entity’s officers, employees, or servants
- Authorized volunteer workers at a public entity
- Healthcare providers associated with a public entity
- The State of Colorado
- Colorado counties
- Colorado municipalities
- School districts in Colorado
- Public higher education institutions
Filing a suit against these organizations is still possible, but doing so can be challenging. A lawyer can help you determine if the government entity you wish to file a claim against has immunity.
Each state has the power to grant cities and other political subdivisions governmental immunity. They can also decide when and if that immunity is waived.
Under Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, C.R.S. § 24-10-106, the government waives immunity for:
- Operation of a motor vehicle, except in an emergency
- Dangerous condition of a building
- Dangerous condition of a street
- Operation or maintenance of public water facility, gas facility, sanitation facility, electrical facility, power facility, swimming facility
As such, if an RTD bus injured you, the law waives governmental immunity because it’s under the operation of a motor vehicle exception. This waiver allows you to file a claim or a lawsuit if a city bus hits you.
Personal Injury Claims Against the Government
The Federal Tort Claims Act and other state and local statutes allow injured parties to pursue litigation against the government. Claims against government employees or entities are slightly different from typical claims. If your attorney advises a claim against the government, you must follow specific steps. Therefore, hire a knowledgeable bus accident lawyer who knows how to manage these cases.
While the specifics and deadlines vary from one state or jurisdiction to the next, claims against the government usually start by filing a “notice of claim” with the specific agency’s office.
Typically, your lawyer accomplishes this using one particular claim form the government provides, which includes room for:
- Your name and address
- Which government entity is liable for your damages
- A detailed description of where, when, and how you suffered your injuries
- A detailed description of your injury damages, for instance, your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering
- Your written intention to pursue financial compensation for injuries caused resulting from the negligence of the government agency or its employee
- The monetary amount you are requesting in damages
Your bus accident attorney will know the deadline you have to provide a notice of claim; however, they are typically only a few months to a year after sustaining the injury. This makes contacting an experienced bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after your injury imperative to the success of your claim.
If you miss or ignore the deadline to file a notice of claim, you will fail to recover compensation for your injuries. When you hire a Personal injury attorney, they will complete the notice of claim and file it so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Once your lawyer has filed your notice of claim, they will likely hear back from an insurance adjuster representing the government entity. The adjuster may work out of the government’s legal department or be from a regular insurance company. If you suffered an injury in an accident due to a city bus driver, the city might have a commercial coverage auto insurance policy that handles these types of claims.
From here, your bus accident attorney will attempt to negotiate a full and fair settlement. If they cannot do so, you have the choice to litigate your claim. While most accident cases end in a settlement, some go to court. Either way, you can count on them to work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is typically the foundation for most personal injury cases, including those arising from bus accidents. When someone doesn’t act carefully or reasonably as most other people should act in that situation, they are said to be negligent. However, simply acting in such a manner doesn’t create a legal claim. Their negligence must cause injury and losses.
To have a successful personal injury claim, your bus accident attorney must establish that:
- The person who caused your injuries owed you a duty of care in other words, they were obligated to act a certain way, such as stopping at a stop sign or maintaining their bus.
- That person violated their duty of care and how they violated it will differ from one claim to the next, but examples include drinking and driving or driving distracted.
- Your injuries result from their violation for example because a driver failed to yield the right of way, you were thrown off your motorcycle and broke your leg.
- Your injuries caused damages such as lost income, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Types of Bus Driver Negligence
Not only are buses inherently more dangerous than many other vehicles on the road, but their drivers are also sometimes negligent in their actions, increasing the risk of an accident even more. Those who drive these large vehicles need to take extra precautions to drive their vehicles safely.
Your lawyer can hold them at fault for an accident if they:
- Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident
- Fail to adhere to federal safety standards
- Drive while sleepy or fatigued
- Drive distracted by a cell phone, passengers, or by other means
- Drive too fast or otherwise carelessly in bad road or weather conditions
- Fail to maintain their vehicles and provide safety inspections
- Lack emotional control. The stress of a job can make emotions more intense than they usually are, causing a bus driver to be less likely to make sound decisions using good judgment and more likely to make poor decisions based on their emotions.
When your bus accident attorney investigates the bus accident, they will determine if any of these factors played a role in your accident. However, these aren’t the only bus drivers who can be negligent leading up to an accident.
Bus Accident Damages
The goal of any injury claim or lawsuit is obtaining compensation for your damages. Damages are the amount of money you seek based on your accident-related bills and expenses, as well as the injuries and other ways you have suffered. Most bus accident victims seek monetary recovery for:
These include your medical and related expenses, both already incurred and expected in the future, such as:
- Doctor’s visits
- Emergency care
- Rehabilitative therapy, such as physical therapy
- Prescription medication
- Medical and assistive devices
- Home health aides to assist
- Retrofitting your home, such as the necessary construction of a wheelchair ramp
You can seek compensation for past and future income lost from work. This can be income lost due to the crash itself or the time you need to recover and heal or attend related medical appointments.
Loss of Future Earnings
Sometimes injuries sustained in a bus accident are severe enough that you can’t return to work at all or can’t work in your line of work. In that case, you can ask for compensation for your expected lifetime earnings.
You have a right to seek compensation for whatever property was damaged or lost in the accident. This can be your vehicle, wedding ring, bicycle, or anything else of value.
Pain and Suffering
Since bus accidents can cause severe and even catastrophic injuries, you deserve recovery for your pain, suffering, mental anguish, and the loss of enjoyment of life if you cannot do things you once enjoyed.
Loss of Consortium
You can also pursue damages on behalf of your spouse if the bus accident impacted your marriage or rendered you unable to maintain intimate relationships.
You may also be entitled to additional types of damages. When you review your case with a seasoned bus accident lawyer, they can help ensure that you ask for compensation for all reasonable expenses and losses.
Speak With an Experienced Denver Bus Accident Lawyer Today
No matter who is liable for your bus accident and injuries, your attorney will thoroughly investigate your claim to ensure you receive maximum compensation from all at-fault parties. Experienced bus accident attorneys aren’t afraid to hold government agencies, employees, RTD, or insurance companies accountable for their actions. If a government entity or their employee negligently, intentionally, or carelessly caused your injuries, you deserve compensation.
Never wait to seek a free case evaluation from a Denver personal injury law firm.