What to Do After a Public Transportation Accident in Las Vegas

Broken in an accident the bus is in the Parking lot. Public transportation accident concept

After a public transportation accident in Las Vegas, you’ll typically need to file a claim against the local government or operating entity. Filing a claim for injuries suffered on public transportation requires that you comply with rules that are different from the ones for injury cases involving privately operated vehicles. The legal issues regarding public transportation cases make it critical to have the right knowledge. 

How Do Injuries Happen on Las Vegas Public Transportation?

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) operates the Las Vegas public transportation system. Millions of people use RTC buses to commute to work, run errands, and get to the city’s tourist attractions every year. While this transportation method is usually considered safe and efficient, accidents and injuries can happen in numerous ways.

One cause of public bus accidents is the failure to keep up with regular vehicle maintenance. Faulty maintenance of bus equipment can also cause non-collision accidents and injuries inside the bus. Poor road maintenance also contributes to public bus accidents and injuries. Inadequate roadway maintenance can create driving dangers like potholes, defective guardrails, lack of proper signage, and malfunctioning traffic signals. These can make it harder for bus drivers to operate the vehicle safely.

The conduct of public transit drivers also causes public transportation accidents. Some actions that lead to accidents and injuries include:

  • Aggressive driving behaviors, such as driving at high speeds in heavy traffic, haphazardly changing lanes, and tailgating
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while fatigued or intoxicated

Drivers other than the public bus operators can also act negligently and cause public transportation crashes.

Types of Injuries From Bus Accidents

While bus accidents are less common than other types of accidents, they put people at a higher risk of sustaining serious injuries when they occur. Buses usually lack safety features found in other motor vehicles, such as seat belts and airbags. A bus has a high center of gravity and a long, narrow design that makes it more prone to rollovers. In rollover accidents, passengers are thrown about violently, increasing the risk of severe and fatal injuries. 

The types of injuries that commonly occur in bus accidents include:

Broken Bones

With many buses lacking seat belts or other restraint devices, passengers tend to hit hard surfaces inside the buses during accidents. That could lead to fractures, some of which may require lengthy treatment and healing process or cause permanent disabling injuries.

Head Injuries

Passengers are often ejected from seats during bus accidents. That leads to head injuries, as the passengers hit their heads on a seat, ceiling, window, floor, or other passengers. Loose objects, such as bags and other items that passengers were holding onto, could also strike a victim’s head during an accident.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Bus accidents can cause back and spinal cord injuries when passengers are launched backward or forwards, a lot of force causes their bodies to be pulled or twisted suddenly, or if they’re thrown around or out of the vehicle. A severe spinal cord injury can cause paralysis.

Internal Injuries

The extreme force involved in bus accidents can cause damage to internal organs and internal bleeding.


The sudden impact of a bus crash can expose your neck to extreme backward and forward movement, resulting in whiplash. Symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, shoulder and back pain, and neck problems like stiffness, pain, and loss of the normal range of motion. Whiplash is less common in bus accidents, but still accounts for a considerable percentage of injuries in bus crashes.

Cuts and Lacerations

Breakable parts, like glass windows, and sharp objects in buses put passengers at risk of suffering cuts and lacerations. Some deep cuts can become permanent scars.

How to File a Claim Against the Government

When another driver is at fault for your accident, you can file a claim with his or her insurance company. In the case of an accident involving a privately-owned bus, you can also open a claim with the company’s insurance company. Accidents involving government agencies or employees are usually more complicated due to the laws governing claims filed against government entities.

In many public transportation crashes in Clark County, the RTC bus driver or RTC transit authority may be at fault. Consequently, you can file a lawsuit against the city or state government.

Sovereign Immunity 

The government is covered by sovereign immunity. Under this doctrine, you can’t sue the government for damages. However, the government can create statutory exceptions to the rule, giving you the right to sue for damages in some instances. In Nevada, you can sue the local or state government if the negligent actions of the government — including its agencies, employees, and officers — cause you to suffer injuries. Nevada Annotated Code (NAC) Chapter 41 governs personal injury claims brought against the state government.

Bus passengers aren’t the only public transportation victims who can file a government claim. Drivers of other cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians hit by a public bus can also file claims against the local government.

The process of filing a claim against the city differs from that of suing a private company or individual for a personal injury in Las Vegas. Claims against the government require the completion of special notification forms and have strict limits.

Submitting a Notice of Claim

You can’t take the state or its agencies to court without first filing a Notice of Claim with the city’s Risk Management Division. The notice is a request for compensation for the injuries and losses suffered in an accident you believe the government is responsible for. You can fill out and submit the claim form online, get it in person from the Las Vegas City Hall, or request it by calling the city’s Risk Management Division. The city’s third-party adjuster who responded to the crash can also offer you the claim form at the accident scene.

The Notice of Claim should include the following:

  • The amount of damages you’re seeking
  • A description of how your injuries or losses occurred
  • An explanation of how the State caused your injuries or losses
  • Supporting documentation like receipts, invoices, estimates, and any additional evidence

Failing to fill out every section of the form completely and correctly could lead to your claim being delayed or you losing the right to receive compensation. The documentation you provide should prove what happened and your damages.

Because of the significant risks involved in handling the claim alone, it may be best to consult a personal injury lawyer experienced in public transportation accidents. A Nevada commercial bus accident attorney will walk you through the process of filing the Notice of Claim and help you prepare and gather the necessary evidence. The attorney will know how to get footage from traffic cameras and other compelling evidence to build a strong claim that maximizes your chances of success.

The Government’s Response

After you submit the Notice of Claim, it will be filed and given a filing number. The city will conduct its own investigation to determine liability. The considerations it will make include the facts of your loss, whether the municipality has jurisdiction or legal responsibility, the applicable law, the nature and extent of your damages, and the role you might have played in causing your injuries.

The city typically takes 4–6 weeks to process and investigate claims. When the city makes a decision about your claim, it will present it in writing. If the city finds that another party is at fault for your bus accident, it will give you information to help you file a claim with the party.

The city can approve your claim and offer a settlement for your losses without you having to file a lawsuit. You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the city if your claim is denied.

Limits to Claims Made Against the Government

In Nevada, the time limit for bringing a claim against the government is two years from the date of the public bus accident. The state and courts will reject your claim if you don’t file it within two years. Nevada law also limits how much compensation injury victims can receive from the government. As of June 2023, the cap on damages is $200,000. Judges also don’t impose punitive damages in cases against the government.

Accident claims against the government will require you to make unique considerations, overcome several challenges, and comply with a number of different rules to get a successful outcome. Starting the claims process early and seeking advice from a legal professional experienced in bus accidents as soon as possible will help you safeguard your right to compensation. A bus accident attorney will help you know if you have a viable claim against the local government or another private party, guide you during the claims process, and help you get fair compensation for your damages.