If you were hurt in a bus accident or other crash involving a Disney vehicle, you may have a case.
I’ve written a lot about Walt Disney World accident settlements and claims. Here, I’ll focus on Disney bus accident claims.
Unless I say otherwise, this article assumes that the Disney bus driver is at fault for the accident.
Insurance Isn’t An Issue in Disney Bus Accidents
If a Disney vehicle hits you or causes your injury, Disney has the money to pay even the largest claim. This is because Disney is worth a whopping $243 Billion dollars!
This is good for bus accident victims because so many other vehicles in Florida aren’t required to have any bodily injury (“BI”) liability insurance.
This article focuses on Disney bus accidents in Florida. I focus on Florida because this is where I’m licensed. And I know Florida bus accident law well.
If a Disney vehicle hits you, Florida residents should still make a claim through the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on their personal car insurance policy. The PIP on their auto policy will pay up to $10,000 in benefits.
Do You Have a Case if a Disney Bus Stops Suddenly and You Get Hurt?
It depends on whether the bus driver did anything wrong to cause him or her to abruptly stop.
Your case is better if the bus driver wasn’t paying attention and slammed on the brakes. In this instance, Disney’s bus driver is negligent.
It is ideal if you can get a written statement from a witness who says that they saw that the Disney bus driver wasn’t paying attention. The more witness statements that you can get, the better.
Of course, only get a statement if it is true. Lying to a Disney claims adjuster is (or may be) a 3rd degree felony.
The more people that are thrown to the floor, the better for the case. This is because it is evidence that the bus did stop too fast. Basically, Disney is less likely to deny that the stop was “hard” if several people were thrown around the bus.
Your case is also better if police are called to the scene. You should send a written request to Disney to preserve any surveillance on the bus as well as the event data recorder (EDR). Some people call the EDR the black box.
If paramedics treated you at the scene, your claim has a higher full value. Disney will be less likely to deny that the accident caused your injury. The longer that you wait to get your first medical treatment, the tougher the case.
On the other hand, you might not have a case against Disney if a car erratically cut off the bus. This is because there may have been little that the Disney bus driver could’ve done to avoid slamming on the brakes.
If the Disney bus driver was justified in slamming on the brakes, do you still have case?
Yes, however your case won’t be against Walt Disney World. Your case will be against your uninsured motorist (UM) insurer on your personal car(s). This assumes that you have UM coverage.
But beware. Some other states’ (not Florida) law require contact between vehicles for UM coverage to apply. Thus, there may be no UM coverage if the Disney bus didn’t collide with another vehicle. You’ll (or your attorney) will need to read your actual car insurance company’s policy. Look for the uninsured motorist section of the policy.
Fortunately, people with Florida auto insurance policies are in luck in this instance. This is because, for UM coverage to apply, Florida auto policies don’t require contact between the Disney bus and another vehicle. However, to succeed on a UM claim, the other driver had to be negligent (careless).
Other states are harsher than Florida. Some other states require contact between the Disney bus and another vehicle for uninsured motorist insurance coverage to apply. Ultimately, it will depend on the language of your insurance policy. Additionally, it will also depend on the law where the car insurance policy was issued.
Do You Have a Good Case if You’re Rear-Ended By a Disney Bus?
If you’re stopped at a red light, or stopped in traffic, and a Disney bus driver hits you, you shouldn’t have a tough time proving liability. This assumes that the Disney driver, or any witnesses, aren’t saying that you slammed on the brakes.
Will you get money if you’re hurt in Disney bus accident in Florida?
The law that applies to Disney bus accidents in Florida is similar to personal injury claims involving private bus accidents in Florida.
There is one potentially big difference though. Given its size, I assume that Disney is self-insured.
If Disney self-insures its buses, then you should also immediately make an uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurance claim if you’re insured on a UM policy. This assumes the Disney driver’s negligence caused the accident.
You would need to be an insured under a policy providing UM coverage to make a claim. In your personal injury claim against Disney, it will not be entitled to a setoff (credit) for any settlement that you have with your UM insurer.
You May Need a Permanent Injury to Get Money for for Pain and Suffering (Disney Bus Accidents)
For example, lets say that you’re occupying a car that is insured in a state where PIP is required. In this instance, you’ll likely need a threshold injury in order to get money for pain and suffering.
What Happens if a Disney Bus Driver’s Negligence Causes A Passenger’s Injury?
A Disney World bus driver’s carelessness may cause injury to a passenger. If so, Disney’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage may pay for the bus passenger’s medical bills.
However, if the passenger owns his or her own car, then the car’s insurance PIP may pay instead of Disney’s PIP. Yes, this is true even if your standing on a Disney bus. Your auto insurance may actually cover you for PIP benefits.
If your PIP insurance pays your medical bills, you may have to repay your auto insurer from a personal injury settlement. In Florida, you generally don’t need to repay a PIP insurer. You need to repay a Medpay insurer.
However, if you’re visiting Disney from another state, the other state’s law likely determines if you have to repay the auto insurer.
The good news?
If you hire a personal injury lawyer, any amounts that you may need to repay your auto insurer may be reduced by your attorney’s fees and costs.
The same applies if a Disney bus hits you. This can result in a big savings to an injured bus passenger.
Need Permanent Injury to Get Pain and Suffering Compensation
If Disney’s bus has PIP, the passenger would need to meet the tort threshold in order to get non-economic damages against Disney. Noneconomic damages are for pain, suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience.
Do Disney Buses Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
My guess is no. This is because uninsured motorist (UM) insurance isn’t required in Florida. Uninsured motorist insurance would cover Disney passenger’s if another car’s negligence caused the crash.
I don’t expect Disney to voluntarily have this coverage.
However, if you have uninsured motorist insurance on your personal car, it will cover you for another driver’s negligence. UM coverage covers you even if you’re a passenger on a Disney World bus. This assumes that another driver (other than Disney’s bus driver was at fault).
Disney Isn’t Pressured To Settle
Disney isn’t an insurance company. Thus, it does not have a fear of having to pay money above an amount that it is legally responsible for. This means that it generally doesn’t face pressure to settle bus accident cases. Basically, there aren’t in a rush to settle.
This is a difference between Disney and a car insurance company.
The settlement was before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
My client was hit by a drunk driver. The total bodily injury limits were $100,000.
The most that GEICO has to pay is $100,000 unless, in Florida, GEICO failed to protect its insured by settling the claim when it should have.
So if that claim was worth $105,000, then GEICO should settle it for $100,000 so that it prevents its insured from owing money about his or her policy limits. This puts an incentive on an insurance company to settle a personal injury claim.
If you have the same case with Disney that I described above, they do not have any additional risk by not settling the case for $100,000. Thus can delay settlement as long as possible.
Does Disney want to settle bus accident claims?
I assume so. Big corporations want to settle personal injury claims to get them off the books. The saying goes:
A closed claim is a good claim.
And Disney isn’t an exception to this rule.
However, don’t expect your claim to get resolved as fast as the tragic incident where a boy was killed by an alligator at a Disney hotel.
That incident resulted in Disney World facing public backlash. However, and fortunately, that incident is a rarity.
The run of the mill Disney business accident won’t make world news.
Pre-Existing Injuries May Delay Settlement Since Limits Not at Issue
If the injured person has a pre-existing injury, it can delay settlement. The Disney adjuster may want to look through his or her past medical records.
Family of Boy Killed by Disney Bus Settles Lawsuit
This isn’t my case. On September 8, 2012, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the mother of a 9 year old boy killed by a Disney bus settled the lawsuit.
The mother of the boy filed an auto negligence lawsuit against lawsuit against Disney and the bus driver in October 2010.
The settlement is confidential. The boy died on April 2010. He was at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort with his family when the accident occurred.
The FHP said the boy and another kid were riding bikes when they went off the sidewalk and into the bus. The boy fell on his bike and was run over by the rear right tire. The boy’s family claimed that Disney was at fault. The settlement was for an undisclosed amount.
Race Car Crash Kills Driver at Walt Disney World Speedway
Per the Orlando Sentinel, on April 13, 2015 a sports car passenger was killed at the Exotic Driving Experience.
A driving instructor, Gary Terry, was in the passenger seat of a high-speed race car as a driving instructor. This happened at the Walt Disney World Speedway.
The driver failed to maneuver the race car through a curve on the race course. The driver lost control of the sports car.
The passenger side struck a guard rail. The driver was taken to Celebration Hospital with minor injuries. Terry died at the scene.
Both were wearing seat belts and safety helmets. In the last moments before the driver crashed into the guard rail, the passenger was reaching to grab the steering wheel as the car lost control.
Terry and his wife were just starting their family with their baby girl. This is a very sad story. My prayers go out to his family.
Lady Wins $62K After Vehicle Hit Her in Disney World
This isn’t my case. A woman was allegedly a guest of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. She claimed that a vehicle hit her while she was touring underground tunnels. It happened in 1997.
She sued Walt Disney World Hospitality & Recreation Corp. and Walt Disney World Co. in Orange County, Florida. Her lawsuit claimed that person was operating the vehicle carelessly. She alleged that the vehicle was negligently maintained. As a result, she claimed to be injured.
She claimed that the amusement park should not have been giving underground tours during peak activity. She sued for medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
Walt Disney World admitted negligence. Disney said it should be responsible for any damages caused by the accident. A jury awarded the lady $31,000 for past medical expenses and wage loss. They gave $31,000 for pain and suffering.
Case: Lombardi v. Walt Disney World Hospitality & Recreation Corporation, f/k/a Lake Buena Vista Communities Inc., and Walt Disney World Co.
My thoughts: Sometimes Disney will admit liability. This is much more common in a vehicular accident case than a slip or trip and fall case.
Massachusetts man dead after Disney bus hits him at Port Orleans Resort
According to the Orlando Sentinel, on December 27, 2010 a tourist was killed after he walked in front of a bus at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Resort. They learned this from the Florida Highway Patrol.
Witnesses said the man was walking alone when he walked in front of the Disney bus. The bus was moving in the parking lot of the resort at 5:50 p.m. He died at the hospital.
The man was not in the crosswalk, so he was at least partially at fault.
Monorail at Disney in Florida
The NTSB stated that on July 5, 2009, two monorails crashed on the Epcot beam close to the concourse station. It happened inside Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The wreck occurred when the Pink monorail reversed through an improperly aligned switch-beam. The Pink monorail struck the Purple monorail.
An operator and six passengers were on the Purple monorail at the time of the accident. The operator of the Purple monorail was killed.
The other passengers were not injured. The only person on board the Pink monorail was the operator. He was taken to the hospital and let go.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the crash was the Disney shop panel operator’s failure to properly position a switch-beam and the failure of the monorail manager acting as the central coordinator to verify the position of switch-beam before authorizing the reverse movement of the Pink monorail.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued an Accident Brief.
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