Common Carrier Accidents
Lake Charles Bus Accident Attorneys
Common carriers, or businesses that transport people or goods, are entrusted with keeping people safe during transport. As part of their duty, they must exercise a high standard of care for their passengers and adhere to stringent safety regulations. Failure to do so not only creates a risk of accidents and injury, but it also makes the carrier subject to liability should an accident occur.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a carrier in Louisiana, call Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers at 337-433-2052 for a free, one-on-one consultation with a common carrier accident attorney in Lake Charles to discuss your options for compensation.
What types of transport companies are common carriers?
Common carriers, often just referred to as carriers, can include both private and public transportation; may travel by land, by air, or by water; and typically stick to a specific, published route. Examples of common carriers in Louisiana include:
- Motor carriers, e.g. truck companies
- Taxicab companies
- Bus lines
- Cruise ships
- Freight companies
- Ferry providers
Against whom do I file a claim after an accident involving a carrier?
As with all accidents in Louisiana, the first step in filing a claim for an accident involving a carrier is determining which party is at fault. If the carrier is at fault, injured victims have the right to file a claim against the transportation company or other entity in charge of the fleet.
Note: Carrier operators (e.g., drivers, pilots) are generally immune from personal liability in the case of an accident. As an employer, the company typically assumes liability for all its employees. So, for example, if you were injured in a taxicab accident, you would file a claim against the taxi company, not the driver. (Unless the taxi driver is a self-employed contract worker, in which case you would file with the driver’s insurer.)
Determining liability can be confusing and challenging. There may be multiple parties and insurers involved, as well as municipal, state, and federal guidelines regarding carrier liability that factor into the equation. Furthermore, carriers often employ a team of attorneys to defend against liability claims and deflect financial responsibility. Protect your rights. Call Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers to speak to a lawyer for help identifying which party (or parties) is accountable for your accident and how to best go about pursuing recovery.
What Should I Do Following a Bus Accident
The steps you take following your bus accident can impact your right to recovery and your health. To protect your rights and ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you may be entitled to under the law, take these steps following your bus accident:
- Call 911 after the collision to get an official report to document the accident
- Obtain immediate medical care at the nearest medical facility to protect your health and create a record of your injuries
- If possible, take photographs of the scene of the accident and obtain witness contact information (videos also work well)
- Contact an experienced bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after you have received medical treatment to assess your rights.
- Always follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations to protect your health. If your doctor is not recommending further treatment but you are still in pain, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion.
Do I have a valid common carrier accident claim?
Accident liability is contingent upon negligence, i.e., the party whose careless actions caused the accident is liable for the resulting damages. The law holds common carriers to a very high legal standard of care for their passengers. Passengers pay a fee for their transport, and in exchange, should be able to rely on carriers to take all reasonable steps to ensure their safety.
If a carrier neglects its duty of care and winds up causing you injury, you probably have a valid accident claim for which you can pursue restitution. For example, if the operator of the carrier was speeding, or if the vehicle had a known mechanical problem and the company used it anyway, either party’s actions could be negligence, allowing you to hold it accountable for your losses. This is true if you were injured as a passenger on a carrier or as a third party, e.g., an occupant of another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist.
Below are a few examples of carrier negligence that can lead to an accident:
- Hiring unqualified, inexperienced, or irresponsible operators
- Failing to warn passengers about a hazard on the vehicles
- Failing to properly maintain its fleet
- Failing to comply with safety regulations (e.g., commercial airlines must abide by Federal Aviation Administration regulations, just like bus tour companies must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations)
Common Injuries After a Bus Accident
The injuries sustained in a bus accident will depend on many different factors, particularly speed and where the bus was impacted in the collision. Generally speaking, orthopedic injuries are the primary injuries caused by bussing accidents. Persons often sustain muscular, ligamental, or osseous damage that requires orthopedic care following a bussing accident.
Brain injuries can rarely occur when a passenger’s head strikes a hard object inside the bus, or the whiplash effect is significant enough to crush the brain into one or more sides of the skull. This can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI) which can cause lifelong medical issues. The remainder of the central nervous system, the spinal cord, can also be injured. At times, the peripheral nervous system can also be impacted when nerves are pinched or compressed through inflammation, slipped discs (herniations, annular tears.), and other processes.
Specifically, some of the most common types of personal injuries after a bus accident include the following:
- Amputations or the loss of a limb, especially the lower leg (which often is caught or crushed in a bus accident)
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, diffuse axonal injuries, coup-contrecoup TBIs, penetrating brain injuries, brain bleeds, and other damage to the brain
- Spinal cord injuries, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia, or monoplegia
- Neck injuries and back injuries, including slipped discs, annular tears, disc herniations, compression fractures, and the need for a spinal fusion
- Broken bones, particularly to the wrist or forearm bones, or to the lower leg and ankle (tib-fib fractures)
- Internal injuries, including heart contusions, lung damage, kidney bruising, ruptured spleen or liver, GI injuries, and other damage to internal organs
- Nerve injuries, especially cranial nerve injuries from lacerations or brachial plexus nerve injuries to the shoulder
- Knee injuries, including fractures of the patella, distal quadriceps tears, meniscus tears, or torn ligaments, including the ACL, PCL, MCL, or LCL
- Shoulder injuries, including SLAP tears, impingement, brachial plexus injuries, torn rotator cuffs, torn biceps, shoulder separations, shoulder dislocations, A/C joint injuries, and injuries
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Burn injuries from a fire or explosion in a bus crash
- Crushing injuries in a rollover or flip-over accident
How much money can I collect for my carrier accident injuries?
The value of your claim depends on the extent and scope of your injuries. You can pursue damages for all your current and future losses related to your injuries, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages and long-term disability
- Cost of household services
- Miscellaneous expenses, such as assistive devices and in-home nursing care
- Pain and suffering
- Death benefits (for loved ones who were killed in a carrier accident)
CAUTION: There is a time limit of one year to file an accident claim in Louisiana. This time limit is even shorter when the accident involves a carrier owned by a government entity, such as public transit. You may have as little as 60 days to take action or lose your rights to compensation.
Call Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers to discuss your case. With over six decades of combined experience helping injured victims in Louisiana, we know how to aggressively and successfully pursue carrier claims and how to recover maximum compensation for our clients. Contact us today at 337-433-2052 for a free consult with one of our accident lawyers.