Category Archives: Bus Accidents

What Is the Difference Between Punitive Damages and Actual Damages?

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for losses you suffered in an accident that was not your fault. The aftermath of these accidents can leave us with unexpected medical expenses, lost wages while we are healing, property damage, emotional anguish, and more – and filing a lawsuit provides a pathway to recover from these significant damages. There are many types of damages you can claim, including actual damages and punitive damages.

What Are Actual Damages?

Actual damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They make up the bulk of the settlement that the court can award you at the conclusion of your case, and seek to help you restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. To claim these damages, you will need to prove that the accident was the direct cause for them.

Actual damages come in two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered from in the course of the accident. You can prove these damages in court by supplying invoices, receipts, and bills. Common economic damages include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalization, etc.
  • Lost wages during recovery time or loss of earning the ability
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage

On the other hand, you cannot supply receipts or invoices to prove non-economic damages. These actual damages include the intangible losses you suffer in the wake of an accident, commonly known as pain and suffering damages. Some examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Courts calculate the amount of the non-economic damages you can claim in different ways. In most situations, the jury will examine the facts of your case after your attorney proves that the at-fault party is the cause of your injuries. Based on your case, the jury will assign an amount based on a combination of evidence and reasonability.

In the state of California, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

What Are Punitive Damages?

On the other hand, the court does not intend for punitive damages to restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. Their purpose is to punish the at-fault party in your case for dangerous, reckless, negligent, or intentional behavior. At the conclusion of your case, the at-fault party will have to pay punitive damages on top of actual damages – they will not affect the outcome of your settlement.

The court will determine whether or not the at-fault party acted in a way that warrants punitive damages and makes a decision on the amount he or she will have to pay. The amount can vary based on the circumstances of your case, and the more severe cases typically result in a higher amount of punitive damages.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case?

Calculating these damages and knowing exactly how much you can claim in civil court can be difficult. You may forget about a certain line item that you could claim as an economic loss, or remain unsure of whether or not you qualify for non-economic damages. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

Your lawyer can help you determine which economic and non-economic damages you can claim, collect the evidence necessary to prove your economic losses, advise you on the amount of non-economic damages you might receive, and whether or not your case could qualify for punitive damages.

If you are grappling with the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim actual and punitive damages for your losses. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:05 pm

What Is the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Thousands of students across the state of California rely on school buses for transportation to and from school. Bus drivers must follow safety measures while operating these vehicles to ensure that students arrive at school and home without any injuries or accidents. However, driving is not the only time that students face potential harm while on the school bus.

Following the unfortunate death of one student in 2015, California passed Senate Bill 1072, also known as the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, to increase school bus safety.

Origin of the Law

On September 11, 2015, Hoon Jun “Paul” Lee died in a school bus. It was not the result of a bus accident, but instead from overheating. After completing his rounds for the morning, the bus driver had parked the bus in the lot and left. Lee was in the bus in 90-degree weather with the windows shut. Authorities discovered him over seven hours later, dead.

Lee, a nonverbal autistic, did not receive any help with getting off the bus. The driver, Armando Abel Ramirez, failed to notice Lee was still on board, despite the boy sitting upright and being tall enough to be visible over the top of the seat. Ramirez did not conduct a proper check of the bus before departing. Lee was 19 years old.

In response to the incident, California signed the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law in early 2016.

What Does the Law Do?

The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law is a measure to prevent future incidents of students left on school buses. It requires all old and new school buses in the state to have a child safety-alarm equipped. Other vehicles responsible for transport of students, especially those with special needs, will also require safety alarms. The alarm must meet California Highway Patrol regulations.

The alarm works whenever the driver shuts the bus down. The alarm will emit a noise until the driver presses the stop switch – which is at the back of the bus. As such, the driver will have to walk through the whole bus to turn the alarm off, checking for any children in the process.

Other vehicles that transport students do not require alarms if they meet certain conditions, such as not only transporting pupils, the presence of a responsible adult chaperone, and drivers filling out forms after each student-based trip that confirms that no children are still on the vehicle.

The bill also adds a provision that all school bus drivers must receive additional child-safety check training when renewing their bus driver safety certificates. Like their certificates, this additional training must happen every year.

Through the combination of alarm systems and further safety training, California hopes to better equip school bus drivers with the skills necessary to keep students safe, even after the bus has pulled off the road.

When Does the Law Go into Effect?

The original version of the Paul Lee School Bus Safety law was set to go into effect during the 2018-2019 school year. By that time, all school buses were to have CHA-approved children safety alarms. However, the statewide need for new alarm systems posed challenges for schools due to the limited number of producers and installers for such systems. The late approval of the exact alarm requirements also caused delays for schools implementing the new protocol.

Due to the complications, California made steps to pass Senate Bill 1269, which would increase the deadline for installation of child safety alarms until the 2019-2020 school year. The current version of the bill requires vehicles responsible for special needs students to have proper alarm systems by the 2018-2019 school year, while other vehicles have six additional months to meet the policy requirements.

Posted by highrank at 8:11 pm