Bus accidents in the United States, and accidents involving other modes of public transportation, happen more frequently than you would think. In 2017, there were approximately 67,000 bus accidents according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In Georgia, if you are in a bus accident or train accident involving Marta or another city or county public transportation system (like CobbLinc, or Gwinnett Transit), there are specific rules that you must comply with shortly after the accident to ensure that your claim is preserved.
At our firm, our Atlanta bus accident attorneys have experience navigating the complex regulations for buses.
Bus Accident Statistics
Buses provide important modes of public transportation. The statistics on bus accidents can be broken down into different categories.
- Overall. There were approximately 67,000 bus accidents in the United States in 2017. This includes all types, school buses, Greyhound buses, and public transportation systems like Marta.
- School Bus Accidents. Fortunately, school buses are rarely involved in accidents. The NHTSA considers school bus travel one of the safest modes of transportation. Still, school bus accidents happen and, when they do, it can be tragic. From 2006-2015, there were approximately 1,172 school bus accidents. This involved 113 deaths from occupants in the vehicle and 218 deaths by pedestrians.
- Private Company Bus Accidents. This would conclude accidents involving Tour Bus companies, charter buses, Greyhound buses, Mega Buses. The statistics are not publicly released from companies. However, the AJC and other local Georgia journalists have reported on a number of accidents involving deaths and private bus companies. The message is clear that these accidents happen numerous times in Georgia and Atlanta each year.
Who is Responsible in an Atlanta Bus Accident?
In the event of a bus crash, there are a number of potential defendants. The following folks are potentially liable, depending on the facts and circumstances.
- Bus Company: The bus company is liable for the acts and omissions of their bus driver. This would include any negligent driving by the bus driver. The bus company may also be held responsible if the bus was in poor working order due to negligent maintenance. The bus company also may be responsible if the bus driver was unfit to drive the bus.
- Another Vehicle: A bus accident is not always caused by bus. Just like another vehicle, if a bus is involved in an accident, the other driver may be at fault. If so, any passenger injured on the bus must act quickly as there are likely limited insurance limits available to cover the multiple people potentially injured.
- Government: If the bus is operated by a state, county, or city, then the government may be responsible for the accident. As discussed below, suing the government is a tough business because they have sovereign immunity. This means that they are not liable except when specific hoops are jumped through.
How do You Conduct an Investigation in a Bus Accident?
In the event of being hired in a bus wreck case, our first step is to make sure that all evidence is preserved. This means notifying all parties involved (for example, the bus company, the owner, the government, the other driver) of the potential claim and the evidence that must be preserved. In addition, we will review the scene of the accident to determine what exactly happened and why.
We begin gathering evidence through speaking with witnesses, the investigating officer, other passengers, local businesses. One big difference in bus accidents than a car accident is the number of potential witnesses. It is important to nail down the facts at the earliest opportunity.
At the same time, we work with our clients to be certain that we understand their treatment, prognosis, and develop a path going forward. Our goal is to resolve the case as quickly as it can be, so long as we do not sacrifice the true value of the claim. Once we are in a position to resolve the case, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to present the claim to the bus company and, if necessary, file suit.
Damages Available to Injured Victims
The damages in a bus accident case will be based on personal injury. This would include physical injuries (like fractures, herniated discs, torn ligaments etc.). It would also include lost wages (time missed from work as a result of the injuries). And, it would include medical bills (which are reasonable and necessary as a result of the accident).
There may also be a chance to recover attorney’s fees and punitive damages. However, it takes very exceptional circumstances for this to be true. Most of the time, these types of damages cannot be successfully asserted.
How do I File an Injury Lawsuit After a Bus Accident?
This depends if the bus accident was due to a city, county, or state, or a private company like (Greyhound). In the event that the government is involved, you must provide them with written notice (ante litem notice) to preserve your claim. These must be provided quickly, in the time provided by law. It varies based on who is involved.
Assuming proper notice was provided, then you must prepare a complaint. A complaint is a legal document that states your claim. The lawsuit must, then, be finalized and filed with the appropriate court. This is usually the court where the business maintains its registered agent. After the lawsuit is properly filed, it must be served as required by law.
Filing a lawsuit is a challenging thing to do. It should almost certainly not be attempted alone. A competent Georgia bus accident attorney can assist you.
Notice Requirements Vary Depending on the City or County
When a government entity owns and operates the bus, there may be a requirement that the injured person provide “ante litem” notice. Ante litem is Latin for “before litigation.” It literally means that the injured party must provide notice of the claim, in writing, within a time frame before litigation is filed.
Determining when an ante litem notice is due requires diligence by the Georgia bus accident lawyer.
A city must be provided notice within 6 months of the accident, a county and state within 12 months.
Depending on who is involved, the ante litem notice may be required to include particular facts about your claim. It may also need to be served in a particular manner. An attorney should always be involved in preparing and serving an ante litem notice.
What If The Accident Was Caused By a Private Carrier Like Greyhound or a Charter Bus Company?
These cases are simpler because no ante litem notice is required. Instead, the private company (like Greyhound) must merely be served within the statute of limitations. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is 2 years from the date of the accident, unless there is some other unusual rule at play.
Contact an Atlanta, Georgia Bus Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a Georgia bus accident, you should contact our experienced bus accident attorneys by sending us an online message or calling our injury firm at (404) 793-0026. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations to help you determine the strength of your claim.