School buses are the safest way to transport children between school and home in Georgia, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even so, drivers are not infallible. Children still get injured every year in school bus accidents. If your child was hurt in a school bus accident in Georgia, you might wonder if you can sue—or if you really need to.
In most situations where a person is injured during an accident, filing a claim or suing for damages is a legal right. However, the circumstances are more complicated when it comes to a school bus accident injury.
Is It Possible to Sue a School District After an Accident?
School districts are state agencies, which provide them with some degree of special legal protection. Government entities are typically protected from legal action by sovereign immunity.
In 1992, the Georgia Tort Claims Act. This Act provided an exception, allowed for the filing of personal injury lawsuits against the state of Georgia—but with a shorter statute of limitations and a cap on damages (Georgia Code section 50-21-29). However, the Tort Claims Act exempts governmental entities, and that includes school districts, in this situation.
So, since a school district is a government entity, you will have a very hard time suing unless the district agrees to the lawsuit or a certain Georgia law statute allows it. That being said, you may be able to sue outright if your child was hurt (or killed) on a school bus. Despite exceptions, school districts might still be liable depending on how much insurance the school’s county carries for accidents.
What if the School Bus Belonged to Private School?
If your child’s private school owned the bus, it might be easier to bring a lawsuit against them. Unless a private school gets federal funding, they are not protected by the sovereign immunity laws. Your options would be to:
- File an injury claim with the school’s insurance company
- Bring a lawsuit for negligence
- Or sue for breach of contract
When bringing a case against public schools in Georgia, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of the accident. This falls under the state’s “ante litem” laws. Under these laws, you must bring your case within 12 months or you will lose any chance of bringing it again.
With private schools, you have two years from the date of the accident to file, so there is more time to take action.
Do I Have Other Options to Sue if My Child Was Hurt on a School Bus?
If you cannot sue the school district, there may be other options. You might have the right to sue a teacher or administrator directly. However, this is only an option if there were malicious or intentional acts.
After any injury involving a government entity like a school district, there are many facts and variables to consider. It’s really best to contact a Georgia school bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after your child is injured. They can determine what your options are, and just as importantly, what you cannot do.
Knowing your best legal options will ensure you don’t waste time, energy, or money and can work towards the compensation you deserve. An experienced lawyer will know how to handle complicated cases involving school districts.
You Will Likely Not Need to Sue
Most counties purchase insurance for school districts that cover school bus accidents. You may have the option to file an insurance claim without any need to pursue a lawsuit. A good school bus accident lawyer can help you do this.
If another driver was ultimately at fault for the school bus accident, their auto insurance policy may cover some or all of your damages. In some situations, other parties may be found liable for your child’s injuries, such as the bus’s manufacturer, a mechanic who worked on the vehicle, or the school bus driver him or herself.
Talk to a School Bus Accident Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
If your child was injured in a school bus accident in Georgia, John Foy & Associates can help. Our lawyers have been helping injury victims for over 20 years, and school bus accidents are one of our focuses. We understand the complicated legal side of things and can help you navigate what to do next.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation. We’ll thoroughly investigate the case and consider your best options. Chances are, a solution can be reached without having to sue. However, if you do end up going to court, we are here to support you every step of the way.
For your FREE consultation, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started.