More than a dozen victims and/ or their families have filed public notices against the state transit authority in New Jersey following a horrific bus accident in August that killed two and injured 12 others. The riders are seeking $115 million in damages, either for wrongful death or catastrophic injuries they alleged left them permanently disabled.
As one injury lawyer noted on behalf of one client, “every single aspect of her life” has been adversely impacted. That particular attorney, who has not yet detailed the full extent of his client’s personal injuries, has filed a claim for $35 million in damages. So far, that’s the largest potential lawsuit the authority faces following the crash. No lawsuits have actually been filed as of yet. With the notice of intent to file, the state and other defendants will have the opportunity to respond and, if they choose, to issue a settlement offer. Plaintiffs have to wait six months after filing the notices before they can file a lawsuit, though they do, under New Jersey law, have at least two years to file a lawsuit.
Plaintiff attorneys say they simply want to help their clients regain some semblance of a normal life after the transit bus they were on was broadsided by another bus whose driver allegedly ran a red light around 6 a.m. The 70-year-old driver of the commuter bus was pronounced dead at the scene. One of his passengers, a 49-year-old woman who was on her way to work, died later that day.
Each plaintiff is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
Family members are suing the agency, the state of New Jersey and the alleged red light-running driver.
One of the plaintiffs, who according to NJ.com, was seated just behind the driver, on the opposite side of where the bus was hit, reportedly suffered a broken pelvis, neck and back. She was in the intensive care unit for a full month. She had to undergo numerous surgeries that required the insertion of metal plates and screws. She had to learn how to walk all over again.
One passenger reportedly suffered a total severing of the nerves in his right leg, which has left him unable to role his foot heel-to-toe, which means he can no longer walk normally. Debris in the crash also left him with deep lacerations on his face and chest.
Although bus accidents don’t happen as often as car accidents, the problem is by no means unique to New Jersey. Recently, The Sun-Sentinel reported the Broward County Commission intends to crack down on accident-prone mass transit bus drivers, who traditionally had enjoyed a fairly forgiving disciplinary system. The county had reportedly been pressing for changes for some time, but had met resistance from the driver’s union, which has been without a contract for almost three years now. A union representative said it became known that without some movement on this issue, there would be no new contract.
A previous investigation by the newspaper revealed the transit repeatedly allowed drivers with a long history of traffic violations and accidents to remain on-the-job. The county has reportedly faced a number of lawsuits for bus accident injuries, and has paid out settlements on most of them.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Newark bus crash victims to sue for at least $115M for ‘catastrophic’ injuries, Dec. 5, 2016, By Craig McCarthy, NJ.com
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Davis v. Baez – School Bus Driver Liability for Student Injury, Dec. 9, 2016, West Palm Beach Bus Accident Attorney Blog