Oakland Resident Injured in Bus Accident Receives 10.5 Million Dollar Settlement

busIt was recently announced that AC Transit has agreed to pay a woman $10.5 million in settlement of a personal injury claim arising out of a bus accident. Such eye popping numbers often raise eyebrows and questions about our legal system. In my experience as an Oakland personal injury lawyer, I have found that when large numbers like this are paid out, there are usually very serious and permanent injuries involved. This case was no exception.

In 2008, 23 year old Abby Nicols was crossing the street in a crosswalk, with the green light facing her. An AC transit bus driver took a right turn from an adjacent street and struck her in the crosswalk. Abby was trapped under the bus for fifteen minutes before she could be extracted by emergency personnel. She suffered a crushed hip, and multiple fractures of her pelvis and femur. She suffered permanent nerve damage. This twenty three year old woman will require lifetime medical care for these injuries, including future surgeries. In short, her life will never be the same. In addition to compensation for these tremendous physical injuries, she was awarded compensation for all of her past and future medical bills, and her past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity.

You can see that although 10.5 million dollars is a lot of money, it is not an unreasonable amount considering the life altering effect these injuries had on the young woman. Indeed, there is no question in my mind, that she would rather have not been hit than receive the large personal injury settlement for this bus accident.

Bus companies are often public entities and usually are not easy to deal with. As an Oakland bus accident lawyer, I have had to represent many clients against AC Transit and other transit lines, such as the San Francisco Muni. One thing clients do not realize is that since these bus lines are public entities, special procedures must be taken.

Normally, in a personal injury claim, an injured person has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. However, when a person is making a claim against a public entity, such as AC Transit, you must file a government claim within six months of the date of the injury. If a claim is not filed within six months, the person will lose their right to sue (subject to some very limited exceptions).

The government claim must describe who was injured, how the injury occurred, the factual and legal basis for the claim, the types of damages sought, and the identity of responsible parties. If a claim is not properly filled out, a party will lose the right to purse that particular theory of recovery. Therefore, it is important to have well qualified legal counsel prepare the claim to assure that all possible theories of recovery are alleged in the claim.

Usually, these government claims are rejected by the public entity responsible for the injury. After the rejection of the claim, the injured person has six months from the date of the rejection of the claim to file a lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time frame, the lawsuit will be thrown out of court.
As you can see, government claims procedures are quite complicated. If you are injured in a bus accident, or any type of accident where a public entity is responsible, you should consult with a lawyer well trained in government claims to make sure your rights are protected. For more information, see “Six Things You Should Know if You Want to Sue the Government in California.”

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