Absolutely yes. In fact, most of these cases settle out of court. However, the road to fair compensation is often long, because charter bus crashes are factually and legally complex.
Overall, the number of fatal truck accidents has increased 42 percent since 2009. When fully loaded, these massive vehicles carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. So, by the time emergency responders reach the scene, there may be little left other than wreckage.
So, as outlined below, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must have a special skill set to obtain fair compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What Causes Tour Bus Crashes?
Fatigued driving and distracted driving are two of the main causes of car crashes in general, and of charter bus crashes in particular.
Many tour bus operators are behind the wheel late at night and/or early in the morning. Most people are naturally fatigued at these times. It does not matter how much rest they had the night before. Circadian rhythm fatigue is especially bad if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) recently changed work schedules.
Furthermore, many tour bus drivers are not just bus drivers. They are also tour guides, security guards, and janitors. They must host the group, break up verbal fights, and clean up spills. That’s a dangerous amount of multitasking.
It is easier for Brainerd, MN injury lawyers to establish negligence in these cases. Charter bus drivers are common carriers in Minnesota. These individuals have a higher duty of care. Since they carry passengers and cargo for hire, common carriers are virtually insurers of safe conduct. This duty includes not only enhanced driving responsibility but also the responsibility to watch the passengers.
Legal Issues for Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers
Negligence is not the only advanced legal issue in tour bus crash claims. Venue is often an issue as well. Generally, the victim was from County A and the wreck occurred in County B. If that’s the case, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer may file a claim in County A or County B.
The venue choice sometimes affects the case’s settlement value. Some jurisdictions have more victim-friendly jurors than other jurisdictions. As a rule, urban jurisdictions, like Hennepin County, have more liberal jurors than rural jurisdictions, like Crow Wing County. But once again, that’s just a rule of thumb. More on a case’s settlement value below.
The respondeat superior rule is usually an issue as well. Legally, the company which owned the bus is usually responsible for negligence damages. The respondeat superior doctrine applies if:
- The tortfeasor was an employee
- Who was working in the scope of employment at the time.
Minnesota law defines both these prongs in broad, victim-friendly ways. For example, even if the driver was another company’s employee or an unpaid church volunteer, that driver was probably an employee for negligence purposes.
Vicarious liability theories like this one are very important in catastrophic injury claims. Generally, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.
Resolving the Case
One medical treatment is at least substantially complete, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer can assign a preliminary settlement value to the case. This value usually starts with all economic losses, which are primarily medical bills. To ascertain noneconomic losses, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case. Other factors, such as venue, might come into play here as well.
Next, attorneys send demand letters to insurance companies. If there is no question as to liability, insurance companies have a duty to settle the claim within a few weeks. However, there is almost always at least some question about liability, mostly because of some legal defenses which may apply. So, most injury claims proceed to the next level.
The next level involves filing court documents to protect the victim’s interests. At that point, most Crow Wing County judges refer these matters to mediation. During mediation, each side has a duty to negotiate a settlement in good faith. They must negotiate with open minds and be willing to make sacrifices to strike a deal. Because of this duty, mediation is usually successful.
If the case remains unresolved, it goes to trial. That trial could be before just a judge or before a jury.
Count on Tenacious Attorneys
Tour bus crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.