Bus crashes are among the most dangerous types of accidents in Michigan. The sheer size of buses ― and the large number of passengers they carry ― increases the likelihood of serious injuries when collisions happen. Many buses also lack safety features, like seat belts, to protect occupants from harm.
If you’ve been hurt in a Michigan bus accident, you may be wondering who pays for your injuries. Your no-fault insurance? The bus company’s insurer? Here’s what you need to know.
Do Bus Accident Injury Victims Get No-Fault Insurance Benefits?
Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance laws can be challenging to understand, especially in unusual circumstances like bus accidents. The short answer is if you have an auto insurance policy and you’re hurt in a bus crash, you should be able to claim your no-fault benefits.
However, if you don’t have a car, you can’t directly file for no-fault benefits because you don’t have auto insurance. You may be able to claim benefits using the policy from someone else who lives with you, or you can try to file a third-party accident claim against the bus driver or another liable party.
Types of Compensation After a Bus Accident
If you sustain injuries in a bus crash, your own no-fault insurance will cover:
- Your medical expenses
- A portion of your missed wages
- Replacement services
- Any property damage you caused (if applicable)
However, you can only receive compensation up to your auto insurance PIP policy limits.
If you do not have a no-fault policy of your own or a resident relative in your household, then the bus operator will provide your no-fault benefits.
If you file a third-party insurance claim and you prove your case, you can recover additional compensation for your losses, including money for:
- Excess medical bills beyond your own PIP coverage
- Excess lost wages beyond your own PIP coverage
- Reduced future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Property damage
Can You Sue a Bus Company?
Under Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, you can only file a third-party personal injury claim if you suffered serious injuries that amount to a serious impairment of body function in an accident. You can file an injury claim against the bus company or any other potentially liable party if you meet this threshold.
Why Are Bus Accident Claims Challenging?
Aside from dealing with Michigan’s complicated no-fault insurance laws, the main reason bus accident claims are challenging is because there are many potentially liable parties, and you’ll need strong evidence to back up your claim.
For example, the bus driver and the bus company might be liable for an accident if their negligence led to the collision and your injuries. Or a government agency, such as a school district, could be liable, and there are special challenges involved in suing the government. Talk to a lawyer if you need help filing a personal injury claim after a Michigan bus accident.
Statute of Limitations for Michigan Bus Accidents
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Michigan is three years from the date of your injury. However, if you wish to file a lawsuit against a regional bus service like SMART or DDOT, you must file a written notice of your claim with that agency within 60 days of your accident. Otherwise, it will be automatically dismissed. If the claim is against the State of Michigan, you must file your lawsuit or notice of your claim with the Court of Claims within 6 months of the accident. Otherwise, your claim will be waived. Suits against private bus operators are subject to the three-year statute of limitations that applies to other personal injury cases.
How Soon Do I Need to Hire a Michigan Bus Accident Lawyer?
You should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible if you’ve been injured in a Michigan bus accident. Depending on who owns the bus and is responsible for your injuries, you may have as little as six months to file your claim. Talking to a lawyer right away means they can get a jump on your claim and avoid running into any issues with Michigan’s statutes of limitations.
Speak to an Experienced Bus Accident Lawyer Now
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a bus crash, you need a skilled attorney to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. Christensen Law is an established Michigan personal injury law firm with offices in Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor. Call or contact us today to speak with a Michigan bus accident lawyer.