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. If your child got 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 gets 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.
School Districts Are Difficult to Sue
School districts are state agencies, which provide them with some degree of special legal protection. The 1992 Georgia Tort Claims Act provided an exception, allowing for the filing of personal injury lawsuits against the state of Georgia, but with a shorter statute of limitations and a cap on damages according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §50-21-29.
However, the Tort Claims Act exempts governmental entities, including school districts, in this situation. So, since a school district is a government entity, you will have a tough time suing unless the district agrees to the lawsuit or a specific Georgia law statute allows it.
That being said, you may be able to sue outright if your child got hurt on a school bus. Despite exceptions, school districts might still be liable depending on how much insurance the school’s county carries for accidents.
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Suing Private Schools for a School Bus Accident
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 don’t get 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.
However, with private schools, OCGA §9-3-33 applies, which means you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file, so there is more time to take action. Keep in mind that circumstances surrounding your case may shorten this time period, so it’s best to take action quickly.
Other Legal Options After a School Bus Accident in Georgia
If you cannot sue the school district, there may be other options. For example, you might have the right to directly sue a teacher or administrator. However, this is only an option if there are malicious or intentional acts.
There are many facts and variables to consider after an injury involving a government entity like a school district. Therefore, it’s 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. In addition, 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. Therefore, 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.
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Damages You Can Recover After Filing a Claim
You can recover several damages after your child sustains injuries from a school bus accident. The small list that we provide is only a few of the most common that typically arise after school bus accidents:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages if you take time off work to care for your child
- Medical expenses such as prescriptions, physical therapy, hospital visits, ER visits, hospital stays, psychological services, and medical equipment
- Disability or disfigurement
Don’t worry, even if you don’t see some of the damages your child suffered listed above. Our experienced bus accident lawyers will calculate all of your damages accurately and factor them into your settlement. We won’t let the school or the insurance company get away with paying only a fraction of the financial compensation you’re entitled to.
Hire a Lawyer As Soon As Possible
Bus accidents, especially ones that involve injured children, are extremely complicated to navigate legally. There are so many laws and regulations that exist that can make it extremely difficult for the average person to file a claim on their own. In addition, if you have no experience with bus accident law or laws surrounding sovereign immunity, it won’t be easy to win a settlement.
Hiring a lawyer is the best decision you can make to ensure that you get the maximum amount of compensation possible. Unfortunately, insurance companies and the school system have no incentive to pay you the proper amount of compensation you and your child deserve. More often than not, you’ll need to fight for a fair settlement.
However, after your child gets hurt, your attention shouldn’t get diverted away from them. Instead, focus on their health and recovery while you let our school bus accident lawyers handle the rest. We always prioritize your needs first above anything else. If we can’t win compensation for your claim, you owe us nothing for our services.
Talk to a School Bus Accident Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
If your child got 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.
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 or contact us online to get started.