One of the difficult things about a bus accident is that there are usually a number of people injured in the crash. Most, if not all of these people will file a claim with the bus company’s insurance carrier. What our Smyrna accident attorneys have found over the years is that there isn’t always enough insurance coverage to fully pay everyone’s claims.
Here, we’ll discuss what kind of insurance coverage bus companies are required to maintain. We’ll also explain what your Smyrna bus accident lawyer can do if insurance doesn’t cover your total damages.
There Are Usually Many People on a Bus During an Accident
Typically, over a dozen people are on the bus at any given time. If the bus driver happens to get in an accident, there’s a very good chance everyone on the bus will get hurt.
What this means is that there could be dozens of people filing insurance claims at the same time. Some may be smaller than others, however, together they may exceed the insurance policy’s limits.
This Is the Case Whether It’s a Charter Bus or City Bus
When our Smyrna bus accident lawyers first meet with a client, they need to hear the client’s story. They’ll need to know what kind of bus they were on and where they were headed. They’ll also need to know how many people were on the bus at the time of the crash.
Sometimes, our clients tell us they were on a private charter bus. Perhaps they were headed to a reunion or wedding. Maybe they were going on a day trip somewhere outside of Smyrna.
Others reveal that they were on a city bus when they got hurt. Either way, the bus company (or the city) is required to maintain a certain amount of insurance in case there’s an accident.
How Much Insurance Are Bus Companies Required to Maintain?
Georgia law outlines exactly how much auto insurance coverage regular drivers must have. For example, drivers in Georgia are legally required to carry $25,000 coverage for property damage.
With bus companies, the rules work a bit differently. It isn’t the State of Georgia that sets insurance coverage levels. Instead, it’s the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that makes these decisions.
The FMCSA Has Set Minimum Coverage Standards
According to §49 CFR 387 (b) (7.7) of rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, bus companies are required to carry anywhere from $1.5 million to $5 million in insurance coverage. It all depends on how many passengers the bus is designed to carry.
Specifically, if a bus holds less than sixteen passengers, the bus company must maintain at least $1.5 million in coverage. However, if the bus is fit to carry more than fifteen people, the coverage requirements increase to $5 million.
It’s not necessarily the number of people on the bus that will determine the insurance limits. It is the maximum number of people that can be on the bus at one time.
How Much Will Your Smyrna Bus Accident Attorney Demand?
Whether your lawyer will be able to settle your bus crash case will depend on several things. Obviously, it will depend on how many other people filed a claim. It will also depend on how much these claims were for.
However, aside from this, your total damages will also impact whether your case can be settled. The insurance company will only agree to a settlement if it falls below the total policy limits.
For this reason, the amount your attorney demands in your claim will matter. Of course, your lawyer won’t know how much your damages are until they have a chance to thoroughly review your case.
Your Damages Will Depend on the Seriousness of Your Injuries
For the most part, your damages will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. It makes sense that somebody who suffers very serious injuries would be entitled to more money than someone with minor injuries.
Another factor that will impact the amount of your damages is your income. If your accident lawyer intends to demand compensation for lost wages and lost future income, your annual income will be an important factor.
In most of the cases our Smyrna accident attorneys handle, they demand some or all of the following:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (in very limited circumstances, and if your case goes to trial)
You can trust that your attorney will fight to get you as much money as possible for your bus accident case. It all depends on the evidence and what your lawyer can prove.
Your Smyrna Accident Attorney Understands That There Are Likely Multiple Plaintiffs
Going into your case, your Smyrna accident attorney understands that there are probably numerous plaintiffs. There could be a dozen or more people filing insurance claims for the same bus crash.
Your lawyer will have to keep this in mind when they prepare your claim. They need to know, going in, whether they intend to settle with the insurance carrier or pursue legal action. The number of other plaintiffs will play a significant role in this decision.
The Insurance Company Will Only Settle if the Amount Is Less Than the Policy Limits
The way insurance companies work is that they’ll only agree to settle a case if they can do so for less than the policy limits. For example, if the bus you were on had twenty passengers, the insurance policy would need to be for at least $5 million.
Now imagine that all the plaintiffs’ claims add up to $10 million. Unless the insurance adjuster can settle these claims for less than $5 million, they’ll have no choice but to go to court.
This is, of course, a very simple example. In the real world, the insurance adjuster would probably try to settle as many claims as they can for less than $5 million.
Any claims that remained open would then have to be litigated in court. The bus company would then be liable for any damages awarded in these other cases.
Get Help From an Experienced Smyrna Accident Attorney Right Away
If you’ve been injured in a bus crash, you may be entitled to significant damages. However, there could be a problem if there are numerous other plaintiffs. It’s best to talk to a Smyrna bus accident lawyer to find out what your rights are.
Many bus accident victims are able to settle their claims with the insurance carrier. Your Smyrna accident attorney will attempt to do the same thing. Of course, it all depends on the facts of your case. It also depends on how much coverage the bus company has.
Contact our office at (770) HELP-NOW or online anytime 24/7. You can take advantage of a free, initial consultation and find out if you have a case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.