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Florida Car Accidents: School Bus Injury Question

April 16, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Auto Accident Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question: My six year old son was injured in a school bus accident last year.  The driver did not slow down when turning and he was thrown in his seat, splitting his head open on the metal frame of the bus, requiring several staples to close.  The driver refused to stop and get medical attention for my son, stating to the kids on the bus that he had a schedule he needed to keep.    The driver was ultimately terminated as this was his 3rd incident in 36 months, and the bus company has admitted that he violated all protocols.  I have not obtained legal counsel at this time, and the third party administrator has said they are going to make us a settlement offer.  What do you think we can expect?  I want to make certain we are not being taken advantage of in our naivete for not hiring an attorney.  If the offer is way off-base, we would definitely hire a personal injury attorney.

Answer: Your email doesn’t say where you are from. Laws vary from state to state. I am in Florida and work with Florida car accidents, so I will try to give you a general perspective, but check with somebody in your area to get specific information about the laws in your state. The offer you may get from the insurance company depends on many factors.  Generally, an insurance company will pay settlement money for injuries caused by the negligence of its insured.  Your email doesn’t give any details about how fast the bus was going, or what caused your son to hit his head, but I’ll assume the driver was driving too fast for normal conditions, causing your son to be thrown into the metal frame.  Proving the driver was not operating the bus in a safe manner is the first threshold you’ll have to pass in order for an insurance company to be motivated to settle a claim.  The fact that the bus company fired the driver for this being the third incident definitely helps. Where were the staples placed?  Is there a scar?  Did your son have a shaved spot on his head where the staples were placed?  Does he have any residual problems from the injury such as headaches, emotional problems, etc, did he miss time from school?  It is difficult to estimate the settlement value of your claim without more information. Settlement values are affected by the issues raised above, the jurisdiction the claim is in, the insurance company you are dealing with, and the amount of medical bills incurred and/or whether there is a health insurance lien.  I have represented many people that thought they could settle their claim with the insurance company themselves, only to find out the insurance company only wanted to offer them nuisance value for their claim.  Keep in mind, insurance companies are multi-billion dollar, sophisticated enterprises that specialize in minimizing risk.  They know that they can settle claims of unrepresented persons for less than when an attorney is involved, and because of that will offer you far less if you are not represented.    You should speak with an attorney specializing in car accident cases in your area to maximize any settlement offer.  One of the first things you want to do is verify the type and amount of insurance coverage.  Most likely, a bus company transporting children is going to carry "medical payments" coverage which will allow up front money to pay for your out of pocket medical expenses. This money is separate from damages for pain and suffering, and to cover the injury itself.  Also, an experienced car accident lawyer is going to know the laws in your area and how best to proceed, and what damages are recoverable. Florida car accidents lawyers handle cases on a contingent basis which means if the lawyer does not recover any money for your claim, there is no charge for costs or attorney’s fees.  Most personal injury lawyers around the country also handle claims on a contingent basis.  If you are in the South Florida area, please give me a call at (866) 556-5529.  I have been specializing in personal injury claims including Florida car accidents for 16 years. If you’re in an area other than South Florida, I can probably still refer you to an experienced car accident attorney in your area.  Good Luck.

For more information about Florida car accidents, contact the Florida auto accident lawyers at Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529 or email them today.

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