Understanding the causes, fault and recovery for bus accidents in Georgia
Buses are a common mode of transportation in Georgia. With over 550 MARTA buses in service and thousands of children riding school buses each day, an accident is a possible yet unfortunate event. In 2015 there were 257 fatal bus accidents nationwide and 14,000 bus accidents that caused injury.
Bus passengers, other motorists and anyone who experienced property damage as a result of a bus accident may pursue damages via a personal injury lawsuit. This article helps accident survivors understand bus accident liability depending on the type of bus involved.
Types of bus accidents
The term bus accident includes a variety of different modes of transportation. Examples of vehicles included in bus accidents are:
- Public transportation buses such as MARTA buses
- Private bus lines such as Coach, Megabus and Greyhounds
- School buses
- Airport and hotel shuttle buses
- Charter buses
- Tour buses
All of the above buses are large vehicles that are considered difficult to maneuver. Some of these buses also require a specialty license to drive. The laws and regulations vary according to each type of bus, so the method of recovery differs depending on the accident.
Causes of bus accidents and who may recover
The causes of bus accidents aren’t unlike those associated with car accidents. Many accidents are caused by the negligence of bus drivers. Specific causes of bus accidents in Georgia include:
- The driver’s failure to be aware of their surroundings
- Improper maneuvering
- Inadequate training or credentials of the driver
- Inadequate maintenance of the bus
- A deficiency in the manufacturing
- Violation of traffic laws and specific bus regulations
- Operating the bus in excess of permitted speed limits
Whenever a bus accident occurs, a personal injury or wrongful death claim could be made by either the passengers on the bus or any motorist involved in the accident.
In addition, pedestrians also have personal injury claims should they be injured at a bus station or bus stop. Premises liability laws apply to bus stations and stops, and you may be able to sue the bus company if they create an unsafe environment that causes you injury.
Damages awarded to bus accident victims
Settling with an insurance company is almost always an option when you are the victim of a bus accident. This is often the easiest option and is typically preferred when there is minimal injury. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that insurance settlements are often limited to just medical bills and lost employment. Costs for treatment for emotional harm or the usage of paid leave may not be included.
Personal injury lawsuits often seek a broader scope of compensation for victims and their families. The damages recovered in bus accidents often include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost salary
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of intimacy and support
An experienced bus accident attorney is the best person to calculate your potential damages as they can advise you how much their past clients have won as well as asses your estimated damages according to specific court guidelines.
Accidents with public transportation
Whenever a car accident involves government vehicles, such MARTA or other public buses, there are special regulations in place. This is true if the accident occurs on government property such as the bus depot or bus stop as well. In most cases, the legal principle of “sovereign immunity” will take effect.
Sovereign immunity means that an accident victim only wins damages from the government in a very limited set of circumstances. Only in situations of gross negligence or criminal behavior will a plaintiff be awarded financial compensation from the government. Fortunately, if a bus accident occurs as a result of any of the causes listed above or if there was a hazardous object at the bus station or bus stop, negligence claims are more likely than other government accidents.
If you were involved in an accident with a public bus or at a bus station in Georgia, we strongly recommend that you schedule a consultation a personal injury attorney. To receive compensation for any damages, your claim must be filed against the responsible party on time and in the right manner.
The timeframe for a claim against the government is shorter than other statute of limitations.
In Georgia, you must follow your personal injury claim according to these deadlines:
- With a city or county vehicle, the deadline is approximately 6 months after the accident.
- If the vehicle was a state vehicle, the deadline is approximately 1 year after the incident.
As time runs out quickly for these accident claims, the sooner you can schedule a meeting with a qualified attorney, the better.
School bus accidents in Georgia
An accident involving a child is always viewed as a catastrophic event, and every precaution is taken to protect the safety of children. Children are offered more legal protection than adults and are owed a higher duty of care while on or near a school bus. School buses, entrusted to carefully transport children, are considered “common carriers.” This classification means that drivers, mechanics and other responsible parties must adhere to specific federal and Georgia state regulations, in addition to this heightened duty of care.
The size and handling of school buses is significantly different from most other vehicles on the road. As a result, strict requirements regarding careful operation and maintenance are in place to better protect their passengers and others motorists.
Liability is typically limited to injuries sustained while a child is on the bus, though there are exceptions. For example, school bus drivers must protect the safety of children boarding the bus and those waiting at a bus stop or crossing the street.
Bus drivers, owners, maintenance workers, and other parties responsible for the operation and safety of the bus and its passengers may be liable for damages if an accident occurs due to the driver’s negligence.
These parties may also be at fault if the bus was negligently maintained and inspected. Manufacturers of school buses face liability if the bus or one of its components contained a defect or mechanical error that contributed to the child’s injury.
If your child was injured or killed as a result of a school bus accident, there’s little doubt that your entire family is grieving. It may be some comfort to know that there’s no cap on damages for pain and suffering in Georgia. We urge you to speak with a top Georgia personal injury attorney who will help earn the compensation you and your family deserve.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.