Because of their physical size, a collision with a bus can be an exceptionally frightening event. The potential for serious injury and death is huge, and whether you are involved in a bus crash as another road user or as a passenger on the bus there is little you can do in the seconds before impact except brace yourself.
Thankfully, bus crashes in Ireland are rare – albeit devastating. The most high profile bus crashes in recent years occurred in Dublin in 2004, which saw the death of five schoolchildren, and again in the capital in 2009, when a Dublin bus collided with the Red Line Luas in O´Connell Street and twenty one people were injured.
However, according to statistics from the Road Safety Authority, buses still provide the safest form of public transport on the road, with less than 1 per cent of injuries and fatalities each year in Ireland attributable to bus crashes.
Procedures after a Bus Crash
After a bus crash, your only concern should be for your health and the safety of other people involved in the accident. An ambulance and the Gardai should be called immediately, even when you believe that you have sustained no physical injuries yourself. Some typical road traffic injuries may take many days to manifest and it is always advisable to have a precautionary medical examination.
If you have sustained a serious injury, you will be taken to hospital. The Gardai will make a road traffic accident report which you will be able to access at a later stage and you should also be able to get contact details of other people involved in the accident and witnesses to the event once you have received treatment for your injuries.
If you are treated on site for minor injuries, you should make an independent record of the registration numbers of vehicles involved in the accident and the conditions at the scene of the bus crash. Most people these days have mobile phones with a camera function, so make use of this technology to record the most relevant details of the incident.
Liability for a Bus Crash
The negligent party in a bus crash is not always the bus driver. Some accidents are caused by other road users or – as in the case of the O´Connell Street accident – faulty road signals. In a crash of this magnitude, the Gardai will carry out their own investigation into the causes of the crash and you will be informed about who they feel is the negligent party and person responsible for the bus crash.
This information will be of particular use to you when you make a bus crash compensation claim, as it will strengthen your case and remove the possibility of the negligent party denying their responsibility. Nonetheless, this does not mean you should approach the Injuries Board Ireland for an assessment of your bus crash compensation without first seeking legal advice.
Typical Bus Crash Injuries
The most common injuries cited in bus crash claims are whiplash-type injuries. These occur when the occupants of another road vehicle are in collision with a bus and can be far worse than a car-to-car whiplash injury due to the momentum of the bus. Other types of injury can also be exaggerated because of the weight and mass of a bus – for example there is a higher likelihood of sustaining a broken bone.
It is also possible to make claims for whiplash injuries against a bus company even when you are not involved in a bus crash. If you sustain whiplash or any other type of injury as a passenger on a bus due to erratic driving by the bus driver – such as accelerating too quickly and braking sharply, or negotiating corners without care – you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Bus Crash Claims for Compensation
Bus crash claims for compensation should cover more than damages for the physical injuries you sustained in the accident. Any out of pocket expenses for obtaining medical treatment and any loss of earnings you experience as a result of the accident should be integrated into a bus crash compensation claim, as well as damages for the effect a serious injury may have on your quality of life.
Furthermore, as being involved in a bus crash is a psychologically traumatic event, you may also be entitled to claim for psychological injury. Medical experts claim that many road traffic accident victims sustain some level of post traumatic stress disorder – particularly children – which can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Bus Crash Insurance Settlements
All bus crash claims are settled with the negligent party´s insurance company, but often their insurance company will make an approach to you with an offer of compensation in return for an early settlement. Although an instant cash sum may be welcome at a time when you are in pain and worried about future job prospects, it is still in your best interests to discuss the offer with a solicitor to ensure it is a fair offer.
A solicitor will also be able to guide you through the process of applying to the Injuries Board Ireland for an assessment of bus crash compensation and represent you in court if your bus crash claims are rejected by the Injuries Board Ireland due a dispute over liability. In the rare event that the assessment of compensation is contested by the negligent party, your solicitor will also be able to litigate on your behalf or negotiate bus injury compensation appropriate to your suffering.
- Exceptionally few bus crashes happen on Ireland´s roads, but the consequences can be devastating.
- The procedures after a bus crash are similar to any road traffic accident where an injury has been sustained. Call an ambulance and the Gardai.
- The negligent party in a bus crash may not be the bus driver. Another road user or a signalling fault can be responsible for your injury.
- Speak with a solicitor even when there is no doubt about liability and make your claim separately. Class actions may not provide adequate compensation.
- Psychological injury should be considered in bus crash claims for compensation. Children in particular should be examined for signs of post traumatic stress disorder.
- Typical bus crash injuries can be far worse than road traffic accidents involving smaller vehicles. Insurance companies may not consider this when making an early offer of compensation.
It is important to note that bus crash claims for compensation are unique to the individual and should not be incorporated into a class action where victims combine to sue the negligence party. There are many different factors beyond damages for physical pain which need to be included in a claim for bus crash compensation and, if you feel that you have a potential bus crash compensation claim, you are advised to discuss the points in the above article with a solicitor at your earliest opportunity.
It is important to note that each case is unique. If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered an injury in a bus crash and feel that you have a potential personal injury claim you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
Copyright © 2009-2015 Eoin Campbell
About the Author
Eoin P. Campbell is an honours law graduate (LL.B) and qualified solicitor whose professional experience is in the area of litigation and in particular personal injury claims. Eoin P. Campbell is currently lecturing in law at two universities in Lyon, France.