Injured when shuttle bus driver forgot to put on the parking brake...

by Bob

I was riding a shuttle bus to the airport. It stopped to pick up passengers at a hotel and the driver got out and did not set the parking brake. The bus started rolling away with 12 or 13 people on board. I am a commercial driver, so I jumped up and tried to get to the brake pedal.

The driver ran along side the bus, opened the door and jammed the emergency brake on. Even at low speed the sudden stop forced my C4 vertebra out and I needed surgery to have it fused back into place. Is the bus driver and/or company liable for my injuries and medical bills? Do I have any liability for getting up and trying to stop the bus?

Any information you can give on my next steps would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured when shuttle bus driver forgot to put on the parking brake...":

Bob (Virginia):

From the facts you present, the shuttle bus company is completely liable for your injuries and those of the other passengers. You acted in a reasonable manner in an effort to protect yourself and other passengers from harm. Attempting to press the brake was a reasonable way to mitigate any injuries you and the other passengers may have sustained.

The shuttle company had a legal "duty of care" to do everything reasonably possible to assure their passengers remained safe from undue harm and injury. Clearly the shuttle bus company breached that duty. That breach is referred to as negligence.

Learn more about the concept of negligence in personal injury claims here and here.

Their negligence became the proximate cause of your injuries. As a result, the shuttle bus company is liable for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, costs of travel to treatment, etc.), lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.

Some injury claims can be handle without an attorney. These are usually "soft tissue" injuries and include sprains and strains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, minor bruising and abrasions, whiplash, and the like.

Then there are "hard injuries." These can include head trauma, trauma to the back including surgery to repair vertebra, 3rd degree burns, injures resulting in disfigurement, and the like. Your injury falls into the category of a hard injury.

Hard injury claims should always be handled by an attorney. There is just too much at stake for a non-attorney to pursue a major corporation for a serious injury. Attorneys can file lawsuits, issue subpoenas, take depositions, check the driver's background, and more. These are all actions which are foreign to non-lawyers.

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys do not charge fees for initial office consultations. Moreover, injury attorneys do not charge any fee until, and unless they successfully settle the claim, or win it at trial. Here's more information about hiring an attorney.

Seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. Bring along all your medical records. If at the time of your injury the shuttle bus company or police created a form of "Incident Report," try and get a copy of it. If the shuttle bus company won't cooperate, your attorney can subpoena the report.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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