Thousands of adults and children take buses to work, school, and other locations every single day in Georgia. And unfortunately, bus accidents do happen. If you or a loved one was harmed or experienced property damage as a result of a bus accident, you/they may be able to file a personal injury claim for damages.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about bus accident claims in Georgia.
Causes of Bus Accidents and Liability in Georgia
When a bus accident happens, there is always a cause. Many times, that cause is some sort of negligence exercised by the bus driver. Other times, the issue may have to do with maintenance or manufacturing of the bus.
Common causes of bus accidents include:
- Driving while distracted, such as using a cell phone or talking to passengers
- Being unaware of surroundings
- Improper turning or maneuvering
- Violating traffic laws or bus regulations
- Driving with inadequate credentials or training
- Improper maintenance of the bus
- Manufacturing errors
The exact cause of a bus accident isn’t always clear. But to make a personal injury claim, there must be an at-fault person or party. Under Georgia law, that person or party is liable for all damages because they caused the accident to occur. Sometimes bus accidents will even involve multiple responsible parties.
Those at-fault for a bus accident may include the bus driver, the bus driver’s employer, a mechanic or bus maintenance company, a manufacturer of the bus or its parts, or another driver involved in the accident. There are a lot of moving parts to keep a bus running successfully, and if one thing goes wrong, it can lead to an accident. This is where a bus accident lawyer can help by investigating the accident and finding out where the negligence lies.
Damages You May Be Able to Claim After a Bus Accident
Seeking compensation from a bus accident usually involves filing a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault party for all of your damages.
Here are some damages often recovered in Georgia bus accidents:
- Current and future medical expenses, including bills, surgeries, prescription medications, and other costs of treating your injuries
- Lost wages from time taken off work because of the accident
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of future earning ability
- Loss of support or enjoyment of life
You’ll need to calculate these damages to reach a dollar amount you’ll include in your insurance claim. An experienced bus accident lawyer can help you do this.
The damages you can claim may also depend on the type of bus that was in the accident. Unlike many car accidents where the at-fault person is often the other driver, there can be other entities involved with bus accidents.
Public Transportation Bus Accidents in Georgia
If the accident involves MARTA buses or other public buses, there are special regulations that can affect a victim’s recovery.
If the bus accident happens on government property like at a bus stop or bus depot, the “sovereign immunity” rule usually applies. This means that an accident victim can usually only win damages from the government if the government gives their consent. Most of the time, this is limited to situations where criminal behavior or gross negligence are involved.
Thankfully, most bus accidents are based on the negligence of others and don’t involve suing the government. But it’s best to consult with a personal injury lawyer to be sure. You’ll also want to act quickly to contact a lawyer because the statute of limitations for filing a claim against the government is shorter than other claims:
- Six months after an accident with a city or county vehicle
- One year after an accident with a state vehicle
Liability in School Bus Accidents
School buses are considered “common carriers,” which means the drivers and other parties responsible for the mechanics of these vehicles must follow strict federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state regulations. They also hold a strong duty of care to carefully transport and protect the safety of children onboard along with other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Parties who can be liable for damages in a bus accident include the bus drivers, bus owner, maintenance workers, or manufacturers. If the accident occurs because of a mechanical error or defect, the manufacturing company would likely be at-fault rather than the bus driver. In addition, bus drivers must maintain certain licensing requirements and only work within certain hours of service. If the bus driver violate these types of requirements, or their employer fails to monitor them, they are being negligent in their duty and you may be able to file a bus accident claim to hold them responsible for your injuries and other damages.
How to Strengthen Your Bus Accident Claim in Georgia
To have a strong insurance claim in a bus accident case, the more information, the better. You will need to determine and provide evidence to show who was at fault for the accident, how they were being negligent, and the injuries, property damage, or other damages you now face because of their negligence.
A bus accident lawyer will know how to demonstrate this best, so you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as you can after the accident. You can also help strengthen your case by:
- Reporting the accident to the police
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage you experience
- Talking to witnesses and getting their contact information
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible for treatment of your injuries (and keeping detailed records of all your bills and medical costs)
- Keeping track of any time from work you have to miss because of the accident
No matter the type of bus involved in your accident, laws regarding bus accidents are different (and often more complex) than those for other motor accidents. We urge you to find a good bus accident attorney who can help you pursue the best financial recovery possible in your bus accident claim.
Talk to a Bus Accident Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, we’ve been helping bus accident victims win cases for more than 20 years. We’re here to listen and help you based on your unique situation. Working with us is risk-free because our initial consultation is always FREE and we don’t get paid unless we win you money. To get started with your free consultation today, call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form on this page.