No one expects to be involved in a bus accident, but despite the UK being considered as having amongst the safest roads in Europe, accidents do unfortunately still happen.
Badly maintained roads, human negligence and dangerous driving are just a few of the factors blamed for the rising spate of bus accidents in the UK.
When you consider these figures only relate to London buses, the true scale of the problem across the whole of the UK transport network is clearly much higher.
We understand how worrying this can be, particularly for people who use buses as their primary means of transport, both on public and private-hire buses. Millions of people across the country travel as bus passengers every day and should be able to do so in safety.
Fortunately, the law has made provisions for victims of bus accidents to seek recompense for their ordeal.
So, if you have been injured in a bus accident and it wasn’t your fault, this guide will explain your rights and everything you need to know about bus accident claims.
Am I Eligible To File A Bus Accident Claim?
Contrary to popular belief, filing a bus accident claim is not only reserved for people who were on the bus when the accident occurred. There are many situations that give valid reasons for you to file for compensation and they include:
- You tripped, slipped or fell over litter left in the bus.
- Your bus driver lost concentration and collided with a stationary object or another vehicle.
- A bus hit you while you were crossing the road or waiting at the bus stop.
- Your bus driver accelerated before you could find a seat and you were injured.
A bus hit your vehicle due to no fault of yours.
- You hit your head on the seat in front or were thrown off because of bus driver’s dangerous driving.
- Your bus driver closed the door on you before you had fully boarded or left the bus.
- The bus you were in was involved in an accident.
If your injury was received from any of the above scenarios, you may be able to make a claim for compensation as long as the accident was not your fault.
What Actions Should I Take After Being Injured In A Bus Accident?
It is understandable if you are somewhat disorientated soon after the accident occurred. However, if you intend to file a claim later on, there are certain actions you should take at the scene that will greatly help your case.
Be aware, however, that you should only do so if safe and always make sure any injuries are treated properly and promptly.
1) Take Photos
Use your smartphone, if you have one, to take pictures of the accident scene. If you do not have a smartphone or access to a camera, ask someone else at the scene to assist you with this.
It is important to be alert however and ensure it is safe to do so before taking photographs. These pictures can help your solicitor determine how and why the accident occurred.
2) Collect Eyewitness Details
Eyewitness reports are a powerful resource in personal injury claims, so use it to your advantage. Get the details of anyone present at the scene who is willing to help. Their statements can be used later in court, if necessary, to corroborate the details of your claim.
3) Get Both The Driver And Bus Details
Included in your evidence should be the driver’s contact details, the bus route and number, and the details of the bus operator. Also, ensure you keep your bus ticket or pass, as it will show that you were actually on the bus at the time of the incident.
4) Write It Down
Our memories are not always reliable and can fade as the days go by. So, depending on your memory alone, for recall at a later date, means you could easily forget critical details that could help with your claim. To avoid this, write down everything that happened at the scene the first chance you get.
What did you see? What did you observe or hear? Writing the details in vivid descriptions could jog your memory and help you remember everything.
If you can, also draw a sketch showing your position and that of the bus before and after the accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
It is essential that you receive prompt medical treatment if you are physically injured as a result of the bus accident. This may involve your local GP or hospital, depending on the severity of the injuries.
Keep a note of all medical appointments, any diagnosis you are given and any treatment required. Also, keep receipts for any medical or travel expenses relating to the injury. This information and proof will help evidence the physical and financial effects of the accident.
In The Event Of A Bus Accident, Who Do I File My Claim Against?
Sometimes, the bus driver might not be responsible or liable for the accident. In such scenarios, knowing who you should file a claim against will be determined by the conditions responsible for the accident.
Such examples include bus accidents caused by the following:
1) Bad Roads
If a badly maintained road caused the accident, you should file a claim against the local council responsible for its maintenance.
2) Careless Drivers
If the bus accident was caused by another driver, other than your bus driver, then file your claim against that particular driver.
3) Negligence Of The Bus Driver
If the bus driver is at fault for causing your injury, then the bus company will be liable for any compensation claim.
However, note that it might be difficult to prove liability and negligence against the company if it is able to prove that it fully complied with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This is why getting a solicitor experienced in bus accidents claims would be invaluable to you.
What Factors Will Determine My Compensation Pay-out?
When your lawyer calculates the compensation that could be paid for the injury sustained from the bus accident, there are two factors that will influence the final amount and they are:
These are awarded to compensate the victim for the effect of the injury on his or her quality of life. Compensation for general damages usually depends on the type of injury, its severity, and its long-term effect on the victim. Examples of general damages include:
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Physical disability or injury
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of career
- Recovery time
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of companionship (given to a family in the event of the victim’s death)
This type of damages is awarded to reimburse a claimant for the financial expenses that were incurred due to the injury. This is why keeping receipts and proof of any financial burden suffered is helpful. It is much easier to calculate than general damages and includes:
- Medical expenses (both short term and long term)
- Loss of income (both present and future)
- Care expenses
- Transportation expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Home and vehicle modifications, if necessary
How Much Compensation Am I Likely To Receive?
We cannot precisely say what the compensation would be, as each victim’s experience is individual to them. The settlements awarded for a successful claim depend on the severity of the injury and how long is needed for a full recovery, which could vary wildly.
However, we can show here some general estimates of pay-outs based on previous compensation claims for two types of injuries (Chest injuries and Brain Damage). These are for information purposes only and it is important to note that these are not guaranteed figures.
Minor chest injuries, such as cracked ribs, puncture wounds, and bruising, could lead to compensation could range from £9,575 – 13,650.
Moderate chest injuries that lead to some type of disability, or more severe injuries involving lung and heart damage may result in compensation anywhere between £23,800 – 76,500.
However, Severe chest injuries resulting in constant pain, severe heart damage and the loss of a lung, for example, could warrant a pay-out somewhere in between £76,500 – 114,100.
Head Injury / Brain Damage
Minor head injuries or slight brain damage could pay-out anywhere from £1,675 – 9,700 and if the damage is greater, the compensation could be higher, reaching anywhere up to £32,700.
Moderate brain damage that affects cognitive functions and concentration could pay-out between £32,725 – 166,600.
Moderately severe brain damage that leads to partial paralysis, for example, could reach compensation around £166,500 – 214,350.
And for the most Severe brain damage cases, compensation pay-outs could be in the range of £214,350 – 307,000.
Of course, the injuries sustained in a bus accident could affect any part of your body and range from very mild to completely life-changing injuries.
The two categories shown above are only examples. Remember, any physical or psychological harm attributed to the accident can be considered in a claim, so speak to a claims advisor or solicitor so they can review your case.
I Am Partly Responsible For The Accident – Can I Still File A Claim?
Yes, you can still make a claim if you were partly to blame for the accident. However, your role in the accident will determine the amount of compensation you could receive. So, for example, assuming you were deemed half responsible for the accident, your compensation pay-out would be reduced by half and so on.
The Victim Of The Accident Is Deceased – Can I Still File A Bus Accident Claim?
Usually, a bus accident claim should be filed by the person directly injured in the accident. However, in cases where the victim is deceased due to the accident, the following persons can still pursue compensation.
Dependents of the victim: This group includes people who were financially depended on the victim, i.e. spouse, children, or extended family members.
The victim’s family: This includes non-dependant family members of the victim, who are facing hardship since the death of the victim.
The victim’s extended estate: This comprises of non-family individuals experiencing some kind of difficulty due to the victim’s death, for example, a business that loses its owner in a bus accident.
What Is The Time Limit For Filing A Bus Accident Claim?
The law stipulates a time limit of three years to make the claim, beginning from the day the accident occurred. Although, if you are claiming on behalf of a person with mental impairment or a minor, the time limit might be extended.
I forgot to collect the bus driver’s details – will this have a negative effect on my claim?
If you did not get the contact details of the bus driver responsible for the accident, there is no cause for alarm.
As long as you give your solicitor details of the bus number, the route, the particular bus stop you waited for the bus and the time you boarded it, your claim should still be processed.
Summary: Making A Bus Accident Claim
If you have been injured in a bus accident that was not your fault, you should not be left alone to bear the expenses or suffer the aftermath.
The law holds bus operators responsible for the safety of their passengers and, to this end, you have every right to claim for compensation if they have failed in this duty.