Filing a Bus Accident Lawsuit in Nevada

 

Las Vegas bus crash victims can file a Nevada bus accident lawsuit to recover damages for:

Drivers of commercial buses are entrusted with the safety of their passengers. Because of this higher degree of responsibility, commercial bus drivers are held to higher standards than regular non-commercial drivers. There are additional rules governing the physical conditions, safety features, and licensing of buses and their drivers.

If you are injured in a bus accident, you may be unaware of any potential violations that have been committed by the commercial carrier or the bus driver. Our experienced Nevada personal injury lawyers will investigate the accident to ensure that any and all violations are uncovered.

In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys discuss how to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a busing accident in Nevada. Click on a topic below to jump to that section:

Also see our related article on tractor-trailer accidents in Nevada.

bus wreck
Victims of bus crashes in Nevada may be able to sue for negligence and other claims.

1. Filing a bus accident lawsuit in Nevada

Personal injury attorneys usually try to settle cases out of court. So the first step is to send a "demand letter" to the parties responsible for the collision.

In some cases, the at-fault parties will take the demand letter seriously and agree to negotiate a settlement. But if not, the personal injury attorney would file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault parties (the "defendants").

While the lawsuit is ongoing, the attorneys for both the victim ("plaintiff") and defendants would engage in "discovery." Discovery is simply the gathering of relevant evidence.

Ten typical types of evidence in bus crash cases include:

  1. Video footage of the crash;
  2. Medical records of the victim;
  3. Eyewitness testimony;
  4. Expert witness testimony (especially accident reconstruction expert);
  5. Weather reports from the time of the accident;
  6. Reports documenting the bus's condition;
  7. Reports of the roadway's condition at the time of the accident;
  8. The bus company's safety record;
  9. The bus's maintenance records; and/or
  10. Records of discipline against the driver

If the matter still does not settle, the case will proceed to trial. The plaintiff would then have to prove "by a preponderance of the evidence" that the defendant is liable. In other words, that it is more likely than not that the defendant is at fault.

If the court finds that the defendant is liable, the court may then award the plaintiff Nevada compensatory damages. The plaintiff may also receive Nevada punitive damages to punish the defendant.

However, the defendant may try to appeal the verdict. This could cause any payout to be delayed for months or years. That is another reason why personal injury attorneys try so hard to settle for the maximum possible settlement without a trial.

2. Whom you can sue for a bus accident in Nevada

There are several potential defendants in bus collision lawsuits. These may include the following. 

  • the bus driver;
  • the employer of the bus driver;
  • the manufacturer of the bus;1
  • mechanics who serviced the bus; and/or
  • the state or city government

The facts of the accident dictate which parties may be liable for the crash. For instance, the city could be liable if an open pothole caused the accident.

3. Elements of proving a bus crash claim in Nevada

Anyone who has spent time on the Las Vegas Strip can attest that with tourists come buses. Buses are a common sight on Nevada roadways whether chartered by large groups, used as vehicles for sightseeing, or operated by a major national, regional or local carrier.

When you decide to travel by bus, you are putting your safety in the hands of the bus driver. You assume that:

passenger on bus
Bus passengers face serious injuries should the bus overturn or catch fire.
  • The bus driver is adequately trained to operate such a large vehicle,
  • The bus is in maintained in a safe operating condition, and
  • Your driver is attentive and driving responsibly.

Unfortunately, these assumptions are not always correct. Many people are injured or killed in bus accidents in Nevada each year. Some of these accidents are simply the inevitable result of using crowded roadways.

Plaintiffs may have several grounds for suing defendants following a bus crash. The most common ones are summarized below.

3.1. Negligence

A claim for negligence in Nevada is appropriate if the following are true.

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
  2. The defendant breached that duty of care; and
  3. The defendant's breach of duty proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.2

Bus companies clearly owe a duty of care to everyone on the road. If a company causes an accident that results in injuries, the bus company was negligent.

3.2. Negligence per se

A claim for negligence per se in Nevada is appropriate if the following are true.

  1. The defendant had the duty to follow a certain law;
  2. The plaintiff is one of the people that law was designed to protect;
  3. The defendant violated that law; and
  4. The defendant's violation proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.3

Bus drivers must abide by Nevada traffic laws such as not driving intoxicated in Nevada. These traffic laws are meant to protect others on the road. Bus drivers who break these traffic laws and cause an accident are therefore negligent per se towards any victims.

3.3. Respondeat Superior

Bus drivers rarely have large bank accounts, but their bosses do. This is why bus accident victims should always go after the bus company by suing for respondeat superior in Nevada.

Also called vicarious liability, a respondeat superior claim is appropriate if the following are true.

  1. The bus driver is employed by the defendant (the bus company);
  2. The bus driver was acting in the scope of his or her employment at the time the accident occurred; and
  3. The bus driver's actions proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.4

Bus companies are usually responsible for their drivers' actions. Some exceptions may be if the driver was off-duty or was acting in a malicious way.

Nevada's primary bus company is RTC Transit.

3.4. Strict products liability

Like busing companies, bus manufacturers have deep pockets. And the manufacturer should pay if the bus was defective to begin with.

A claim for strict products liability in Nevada may be appropriate if the following are true:

  1. The bus had defects as the result of a design, manufacturing, or warning defect;
  2. The defect existed when the bus left the possession of the defendant (the bus manufacturer);
  3. The bus was used in a manner which was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant; and
  4. The defect was a cause of the damage or injury to the plaintiff.5

RTC's main bus manufacturers include NFI Group, North American Bus Industries, Alexander Dennis, and Ford.

3.5. Wrongful death

A claim for wrongful death in Nevada may be appropriate if the following are true.

  1. The victim of the bus accident died;
  2. This death was caused by another's wrongful act or negligence;
  3. The plaintiff is an heir or personal representative of the victim; and
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages for monetary injury as a result of the death6

The victim's estate and family can bring wrongful death actions.

gavel and cash
Bus accident victims may be entitled to recover large compensatory damages and possibly punitive damages.

4. Damages in bus collision lawsuits

Common compensatory damages that plaintiffs seek following a bus accident include:

  • Medical bills (including home health care, rehab, and counseling);
  • Lost salary while the plaintiff was unable to work;
  • Loss of future earnings if the plaintiff is still unable to work;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Property damage repair bills, such as to the plaintiff's bike, motorcycle, or car; and
  • If the victim passed away, funeral expenses and loss of support

Should the case go to trial, the plaintiff can press for punitive damages as well. Judges may award these damages if the defendant acted in a particularly reckless way. Punitive damages are often bigger than compensatory damages.7

5. When you can sue for a bus crash lawsuit in Nevada

In most Nevada accident cases, there is a two (2) year time limit to bring a lawsuit. This time limit starts running after the plaintiff becomes aware of his/her injuries. This could be weeks or longer after the actual accident.8

It takes time to build a lawsuit and craft a winning strategy. That is why victims should consult with an attorney right after the accident.

Learn more about statutes of limitations in Nevada civil cases.

6. If you were partly responsible for the bus collision

Nevada's comparative negligence laws permit bus accident plaintiffs who were partly to blame to still win money damages. The defendant just has to be at least 50% at fault.9

Example: Boris is driving his motorcycle when an RTC Transit bus driver swerves and hits him. Boris will never walk again. Boris sues RTC.

At trial, the court finds that RTC shares only 50% of the blame because Boris neglected to wear a helmet. But this 50% "apportionment of fault" is enough for Boris to still get some compensatory damages.

Note that the court will reduce these damages by Boris's percentage of blame. If the court calculates Boris's damages to equal one million dollars, the bus company will have to pay only 50% ($500,000).

Bus accident defendants will try to blame the plaintiffs to avoid having to pay. Therefore, a skilled personal injury attorney is vital for deflecting these attacks and fighting for the biggest settlement available.

bus stop sign
Bus drivers may cause accidents by violating basic traffic laws, such as failure to stop.

7. How defendants in busing lawsuits fight back

Defendants in busing accident lawsuits likely will lay blame on other parties, including the victims. Five common defenses that defendants implement include the following:

  1. The bus driver could argue that the victim caused the accident. Examples include suddenly driving or walking in the bus's path;
  2. The bus driver could argue that poor weather inhibited visibility;
  3. The bus manufacturer could argue that the bus was free of any defects when it was bought;
  4. The bus company could try to put all blame on the driver. Examples include arguing the driver was off-duty or acting outside of the scope of his/her job duties when the crash happened; or
  5. The city or county could argue that it has been adequately maintaining the roads. Therefore, the state of the roads could not have contributed to the accident.

Experienced personal injury attorneys will thoroughly investigate the incident. The attorneys may be able to uncover facts and evidence that will nullify the defendant's defenses. 

Ideally, the defendants in busing accident lawsuits will see they have no recourse and will offer a large settlement. A settlement should be preferable to them than all the negative publicity a trial would invite.

8. Common causes of bus accidents

Bus accidents happen with alarming frequency.10 And like any automobile accident, driver error often plays a significant role in causing the accident.

Five common causes of automobile accidents include:

  1. Reckless driving in Nevada (NRS 484B.653)
  2. Following too closely in Nevada (NRS 484B.127)
  3. Failure to exercise due care towards a pedestrian in Nevada (NRS 484.280)
  4. Excess speed in Nevada (NRS 484B.600)
  5. Failure to yield before turning left in Nevada (NRS 484B.253)

Even one moment of driver distraction or inattentiveness can result in an accident. Nevada bus accidents can also occur because of poorly maintained buses or safety equipment.

The exact causes for a bus accident may not be immediately clear. But a personal injury attorney could investigate the accident to help determine fault.

9. Bus accident injuries

Bus passengers typically sustain less physical harm in an accident than those hit by the bus. Though if a bus overturns or catches on fire, the occupants can face devastating consequences.

In either case, victims of bus collisions may experience such injuries as:

Sometimes busing injuries do not manifest themselves until days or weeks after the collision. Therefore, people involved in an accident should always see a doctor. Scans and physical examinations may reveal problems that the victims cannot detect themselves.

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Call our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Injured in a bus accident in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Nevada? Phone us for help...

To discuss your case, simply submit the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). One of our caring Las Vegas or Reno personal injury lawyers will get back you promptly to discuss the best way to get compensation for your Nevada bus accident injuries.

Our caring Nevada personal injury attorneys know how hard it can be to deal with a company that does not want to pay you. That is where we come in. Our experienced Las Vegas and Reno accident lawyers deal with insurers and companies every day. We know the kind of proof that makes them pay up and how to counter their low settlement offers.

Best of all, if we take your case we will not take a dime until you get paid. Contact us for a free consultation to find out whether we think you have a case.

We can also represent you if you were injured in an accident at a bus stop in Nevada, a shuttle bus accident in Nevada, or by another type of commercial vehicle accident in Nevada. Pedestrians injured by a bus may wish to read our article on pedestrian knockdowns in Nevada.

For cases in California, please see our page on filing a lawsuit for injuries in a California bus accident.


Legal References

  1. Andrews v. Harley Davidson, Inc., 106 Nev. 533, 537, 796 P.2d 1092, 1095 (1990) ("A manufacturer has a duty to design a reasonably crashworthy vehicle. Huddell v. Levine, 537 F.2d 726, 737 (3d. Cir. 1976)("In regard to the crashworthiness of a vehicle, once a court or jury determines that a design defect exists misuse precludes recovery only when the plaintiff misuses the product in a manner in which the defendant could not reasonably foresee. See Hughes v. Magic Chief, Inc., 288 N.W.2d 542, 545 (Iowa 1980). Negligent driving of a vehicle is a foreseeable risk against which a manufacturer is required to take precautions. Ford Motor Co. v. Hill, 404 So.2d 1049, 1052 (Fla. 1981).).
  2. Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entm't, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d 1172 (2008); Southern Pac. Co. v. Watkins, 83 Nev. 471, 435 P.2d 498 (1967) (Lexis: "In an action brought as a result of a train-car collision, where a dangerous continuing condition was in issue as the proximate cause of the accident, and other evidence had been admitted of the condition, evidence of prior accidents was permissible."); see Mikulich v. Carner, 69 Nev. 50, 240 P.2d 873 (1952) (Lexis: "Judgment and order that denied appellants' motion for a new trial was improper where the testimony of a truck driver regarding the brightness of the bus lights was prejudicial and the jury instructions provided failed to cure any error.").
  3. Atkinson v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 98 P.3d 678, 680 (Nev. 2004); Brannan v. Nevada Rock & Sand Co., 108 Nev. 23, 823 P.2d 291 (1992)(Lexis: "Plaintiff alleged negligence by a rock and gravel company for injuries he sustained in a motorcycle-truck collision; evidence of negligent failure to maintain brakes was excluded in error, and jury should have been instructed on negligence per se."); Mahan v. Hafen, 76 Nev. 220, 351 P.2d 617 (1960)(Lexis: "Whether a truck driver's negligence in failing to signal a turn was the proximate cause of a rear end collision was a factual matter regardless of whether the negligence arose by violation of a statute or by ordinary negligence.").
  4. NRS 41.130; NRS 41.745; Wood v. Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724, 120 P.3d 1026 (2005).
  5. Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993).
  6. NRS 41.085.
  7. NRS 42.005.
  8. NRS 11.190
  9. NRS 41.141; Karlsen v. Jack, 80 Nev. 201, 391 P.2d 319 (1964) (Lexis: "A truck parked on the side of the road was properly deemed to be the proximate cause of an accident, even though there was an intervening act that contributed to the accident. Therefore, the judgment against the truck owners and employee was proper.").
  10. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011 - People, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Office of Research and Analysis, FMCSA-RRA-13-049 Analysis Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety (October 2013); Alex Ageland, "2 pedestrians injured in bus crash on Las Vegas Strip", Las Vegas Review-Journal (August 20, 2019); Katelyn Newberg, "9 injured in Las Vegas crash involving 3 cars, RTC bus", Las Vegas Review-Journal (June 29, 2019); "2 dead, more than 12 injured after mine bus crashes into semi-truck in Nevada", Reno Gazette-Journal (August 24, 2019).

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