Can I Sue the City if I Was Hit by a City Bus?

Yes, you can often seek compensation from the city if one of its buses hits and injures you. Getting money for your losses may involve suing the city. But a skilled bus accident lawyer might also secure payment for your losses without going to court.

If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a collision with a city bus, you may have the right to receive significant compensation. Here’s an overview of what’s involved in getting that money and how an experienced city bus accident lawyer can handle the process for you.

Your Legal Rights After Getting Hit by a City Bus

Experienced lawyer for city bus accidentAs the injured victim of a collision involving a city bus, you have significant legal rights. City buses should never strike anyone not pedestrians, cyclists, or motorists and the fact that it happened usually indicates that the city bus driver, or the city itself, did something wrong.

You can claim compensation from the city and its insurers. Others may also have liability for your losses. A city bus crash lawyer can evaluate your situation and determine who owes you damages and how much they should pay.

Multiple Parties May Owe You Damages

Generally, anyone who harms you by engaging in careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct will owe you compensation for the injuries and losses you suffer. That rule extends to individuals, businesses, and government entities. If a bus operated by the city and driven by its employee hits you, in other words, the city likely has a legal liability to pay your damages.

But the city isn’t the only party who may have to pay compensation for your losses. Others could share that liability or bear it entirely.

For example, they may include:

  • A private bus company or driver operating the bus under a city contract;
  • The manufacturer of the bus, if it hit you after experiencing unexpected mechanical failure; or
  • Another motorist whose careless actions triggered the collision.

These examples demonstrate the wide array of parties who could owe you money after a city bus hits you. The law generally permits pursuing multiple individuals, businesses, or entities (and their insurance companies) at once for your damages to maximize your chances of receiving full payment. An experienced bus accident lawyer can investigate your claim and identify all parties who face liability to you.

You Can Claim Damages

By law, you may claim compensation for the full scope of physical, emotional, and financial harm you suffered after a bus hits you. It may surprise you to learn how much money that can amount to.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, an experienced bus accident lawyer may obtain payment for your:

  • Past and future medical expenses for reasonably necessary medical treatment of your injuries and any related health complications;
  • Non-medical costs resulting from getting hit by a city bus and living with the injuries you sustained;
  • Lost income and job benefits from missing work while healing, including the value of vacation or sick days you used;
  • Loss of future career opportunities or earning potential due to a temporary or permanent disability caused by the accident;
  • Physical pain from the injury or medical treatments;
  • Emotional distress from the trauma of the accident and its aftermath;
  • Daily inconvenience and loss of quality of life;
  • Challenges due to scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function caused by the bus hitting you.

The specific accident types and amounts of damages you can claim depend on the unique details of your city bus accident. In some cases, however, compensable losses for victims like you can total hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. An experienced bus accident lawyer can evaluate the harm you’ve suffered and calculate the maximum damages you could receive.

Unique Aspects of Holding a City Accountable

The city may have liability to you for your bus collision injuries. But holding the city accountable can involve a process different from pursuing damages from a private party. That’s why you’ll need a lawyer with experience suing government entities in personal injury actions.

The Complication of Sovereign Immunity

In many ways, a city government operates like a private business. It hires employees, pays wages, owns assets, and charges for its services. But it’s also different. Governments exist because laws create them, they serve a geographic community, their leaders answer to voters, and their budgets come primarily from tax revenues.

The government’s special status as an entity created by the people, for the people, entitles it to sovereign immunity. The state and its municipalities can’t be sued for damages unless a law says they can.

Most states have laws allowing citizens to sue state and local governments, and government-owned entities like transit authorities, for personal injuries. Similarly, most government entities carry insurance to protect them against liability for causing personal injuries. But, as discussed below, laws also routinely place limits and conditions on when, how, who, and for how much you can sue after a government employee or entity harms you.

Special Procedures and Rules May Apply

Holding the city accountable for injuries you suffered when a bus hit you may entail following special procedures for suing a government entity. It may also subject you to specific rules that limit your rights.

For example, state and local laws may:

  • Require you to give prompt notice to a government entity of your intent to claim damages for a personal injury, usually within weeks or months of your accident;
  • Obligate you to engage in pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations with a government agency’s insurer; or
  • Limit the amount or source of compensation you can recover or prohibit you from seeking punitive damages (even if a government employee engaged in extremely reckless conduct).

Hiring an attorney familiar with the rules that apply to the specific government entity or agency that operated the bus that hit you is essential. Small missteps when seeking damages for a bus crash can doom your claim. Only trust an attorney who knows the ins and outs of obtaining payment from the city where you suffered your injuries.

You Might Not Have to Sue the City (Or Anyone Else)

Getting money for your losses might entail suing the city. Then again, it might not. Every bus collision case is unique, and a lawyer must evaluate the circumstances to determine the most efficient and effective course of action to get you compensation.

Cities usually prefer to avoid spending taxpayer dollars defending lawsuits in court. That’s why the laws that permit you to sue a city for your bus accident injuries also frequently require some pre-lawsuit notification to the city about your claim. Advance notice allows the city and its insurance company to learn about what happened and negotiate a settlement with your lawyer before litigating your case before a judge and jury.

Once your lawyer has given the heads-up to the city and its insurer, negotiations can proceed as in any other case (except for any potential limitations on how much you can recover from a government entity). A settlement is a contract to resolve a legal dispute. The typical settlement of a city bus accident claim involves the injured victim receiving money from the city’s insurer and, in exchange, releasing the city and its insurance company from further liability.

Lawyers can also negotiate pre-lawsuit settlements of claims against private individuals and entities similarly. But in those cases, it’s up to you and your lawyer whether to give the liable party advance notice of your claim. If a city owes you damages, the law might require you to provide that notice or risk losing your rights to payment.

It Pays to Have a Lawyer Prepared to Sue if Necessary

Although laws usually give the city every opportunity to settle your claim without a lawsuit, there is no guarantee a settlement will happen. Some claims don’t settle. And it’s difficult to predict at the beginning of a case whether it will end up in court.

That’s why hiring a lawyer ready to sue the city, if necessary, is crucial to getting adequate compensation. Your bus accident claim’s value depends in part on a lawyer’s ability to prove it in court at a trial. If the city thinks your lawyer prefers to avoid suing, its insurer will offer you less as a settlement.

But if the city sees that you’ve hired a lawyer with a strong reputation for winning cases in the courtroom, its insurer will have a powerful incentive to pay more to avoid a potentially embarrassing and costly loss at trial.

Steps to Take After Getting Hit by a City Bus

Your actions in the days and weeks after getting hit and injured by a city bus can substantially affect your legal rights and financial future. Following these tips can enhance your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Seek Immediate and Appropriate Medical Care

Always seek immediate medical attention after getting hit by a city bus. Without prompt treatment, minor aches and pains could worsen into major health problems. Only trust a qualified medical professional to assess your condition. Waiting to seek care amounts to gambling with your health and well-being.

Going to the doctor also protects your legal rights. The medical records a doctor keeps of your treatment can serve as powerful evidence in negotiations with the city’s insurance company or in a trial. Those records also demonstrate that you took reasonable care of yourself, which protects the value of your claim.

Do Not Agree to a Quick Lowball Settlement

The city’s insurance company may immediately recognize its potential liability for your losses. If so, it may contact you to offer a quick settlement of your anticipated claim.

Be careful how you respond. The city’s offer may seem generous, but it’s virtually guaranteed to fall short of the amount you need to pay your expenses and rebuild from your injuries. Insurers offer quick, lowball settlements to accident victims who don’t yet have lawyers, hoping they’ll say yes before realizing how much more an attorney could get for them.

Saying yes to a lowball settlement offer could leave you unable to pay for your care and other needs.

Instead of entertaining an offer from an insurer, ask an experienced bus accident lawyer to handle the response and negotiations on your behalf. A lawyer can almost always negotiate more favorable settlement terms than the amount an insurer initially offers.

Get Legal Help Immediately

You have no time to lose if you want to maximize your chances of fair compensation after getting hit by a bus. Tight deadlines may apply to seeking payment from the city. You could lose your rights if you fail to give notice or take action before they expire.

It’s easy and affordable to hire a bus accident attorney. Reputable lawyers offer free consultations to people in your situation and can meet with you in person or remotely at your convenience. They also routinely represent injured clients on a contingent fee basis. That means they don’t charge you upfront fees or hourly rates. Instead, they only receive a fee if they win for you.

Contact a City Bus Accident Lawyer Today

As the victim of a collision with a city bus, you may have the right to sue the city for damages. But you might not have to. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case, assess the evidence, and explore a potential pre-lawsuit settlement. If necessary, your lawyer can also take your case to court.

Don’t delay seeking legal help. Your legal rights and financial future may depend on a lawyer taking quick action, especially if the city owes you money for your losses. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New York today for a free consultation about your rights and options.

Schedule A Free Consultation