- Bus companies must carry enhanced liability coverage due to the potential risk of injury to a greater number of passengers.
- If you can demonstrate that the bus company acted negligently and failed in its legal obligation to ensure safety, you might be entitled to compensation.
- When filing an injury claim against a business or governmental body, be prepared to face rigorous opposition from the insurance company’s legal team. They’ll strive to reject your claim.
- In Georgia, the statute of limitations for bus accident claims is notably shorter than that of car accidents. Time is of the essence, so act swiftly.
Buses Remain a Popular Choice in Atlanta
While many view commercial bus services as one of the safest modes of transport between destinations, buses are not immune to road mishaps. Given their size and the challenges they face in maneuvering and halting promptly during emergencies, they are prone to severe accidents. With the sheer number of buses navigating the streets, the odds of them encountering accidents are relatively high. Regardless of whether the fault lies with the bus driver or another vehicle operator, the consequences can be grave for the passengers onboard.
Georgia is home to over 120 transportation operators, spanning church-owned buses, interstate coaches like Megabus, tour buses, rental services, and those affiliated with private schools. Pinpointing liability in the event of an accident can be intricate. The fault could rest with the bus driver, the owning or operating entity, the maintenance crew, or even the owners of other vehicles involved in the mishap. The silver lining is that commercial vehicles typically have robust insurance coverage. Nonetheless, navigating the intricacies of a claim can be daunting, given the multiple variables and potential defendants. Engaging an experienced attorney can significantly streamline the process and enhance the chances of a favorable outcome.
Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents share many commonalities with car accidents in terms of their root causes. Often, they stem from the negligence of the bus driver or other drivers involved. However, factors like faulty manufacturing and inadequate maintenance can also play a role.
In Georgia, specific triggers for bus accidents include:
- Lack of driver awareness of their surroundings.
- Mistakes during maneuvering.
- Insufficient training or improper credentials of the driver.
- Neglect in vehicle maintenance.
- Manufacturing defects.
- Disregard for traffic laws and bus-specific regulations.
- Speeding beyond the allowed limits.
The fact that the bus is big and very heavy can mean that sometimes passengers are not injured in a bus accident. However, that’s not always the case. When a bus collides at speed with anything there is the potential for serious injury. This is especially true when it collides or is hit by another large vehicle.
These impacts can cause the bus to tip over or roll, throwing the unprotected passengers around the interior like rag-dolls. Broken glass, flying objects and the bodies of other passengers can injure victims in a bus accident. In a large, heavy vehicle, even the violent forces of a sudden stop or a less dramatic collision can result in injuries such whiplash and/or other soft-tissue injuries that can incapacitate the victim.
It is for these reasons that operators of buses and all other commercial vehicles are held to higher standards for safety protocols. When they fail, innocent people can suffer greatly.
As a Passenger, Fault Doesn’t Matter
When it comes to accidents involving privately owned vehicles, they typically involve a relatively straightforward analysis. However, in the case of an accident with a commercial vehicle, the complexity escalates significantly.
As a passenger, you find yourself in a unique position. You bear no responsibility for the damages incurred, as your safety is contingent on the bus company and its driver. The law mandates that the bus driver and the company owe you a statutory duty of care.
Should the bus you were traveling on collide with another commercial vehicle, determining fault can be a convoluted process. It might involve attributing responsibility to one or both of the drivers, one or both of the companies operating the vehicles, or any number of other variables. As a result, pinpointing the right party or parties to hold accountable for your injuries can be an intricate task. Nevertheless, it is of paramount importance to correctly identify and hold the defendant(s) financially liable for the injuries they’ve caused.
Buses and Insurance Companies
Given the potential for severe injuries affecting multiple passengers in a bus accident, the law necessitates substantial insurance coverage for buses. This also implies that the insurance company representing the bus operator has a strong incentive to vigorously contest claims made by those affected. Large insurance providers maintain teams of lawyers dedicated to opposing claimants and preventing the company from making payments to victims. These legal professionals, often referred to as ‘hired guns,’ can pose formidable obstacles for claimants without legal representation.
Despite the existence of higher levels of insurance coverage for carriers, these policies come with limits on the compensation available to each individual. For instance, in the case of a private bus carrying 43 passengers, the total compensation would need to be divided among all 43 passengers if they all sustained injuries. In other words, a larger pool of potential compensation does not necessarily translate into a larger payout.
Compensable Losses in a Bus Accident: What You Can Claim
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the various types of injuries and losses eligible for compensation:
- Loss of income, encompassing the time devoted to follow-up appointments or physical therapy sessions.
- Medical expenses, covering hospital or surgical charges, as well as post-treatment care.
- Pain and suffering endured as a result of the accident.
It’s essential to note that your attorney might uncover additional compensable damages by thoroughly assessing the particulars of your accident.
Overcoming Hurdles Faced by Bus Accident Victims in Their Quest for Compensation
Seeking compensation from a transportation company, regardless of its size, can be a formidable challenge. And, as you might expect, the larger the company, the more labyrinthine the process becomes. The corporate framework often muddles the task of pinpointing the right individuals to communicate with and, more significantly, the intricacies of negotiating with them.
When an accident involves a Georgia-based transportation company, unraveling the web of insurance responsibility can be a convoluted affair. Unlike a typical car accident where insurance details are readily exchanged at the scene, bus companies are often hesitant to part with their insurance information.
It’s important to bear in mind that bus accidents can involve a multitude of liable parties. Responsibility for your injuries may extend beyond the bus driver to individuals involved in their training or bus maintenance. Understandably, the company in question and the insurance company involved won’t make it a straightforward endeavor to pursue, let alone secure, your claim.
Large corporations boast a phalanx of attorneys, available around the clock, whose primary role is to downplay the severity of your injuries and, in turn, minimize the company’s financial liability. This is a challenge also encountered in car accidents, but when it comes to bus accidents, where there may be a greater number of victims, the stakes are significantly higher. Expect concerted efforts to contest all claims. In such a scenario, it’s highly advisable to enlist your own attorney to counteract these efforts and ensure your claim is not unjustly denied.
Time Is Ticking: Act Swiftly After Your Bus Accident
There’s a compelling reason to promptly seek legal counsel after a bus accident – the window of opportunity for filing these actions may be exceedingly brief.
Typically, an individual who becomes a victim of an accident has a two-year window to initiate a personal injury claim. However, when it comes to bus accident claims, the landscape can be quite different. The specific time restrictions hinge on the ownership of the bus involved in your injury.
If the bus in question operated under the government’s purview, such as school or MARTA buses, the statute of limitations for filing a claim against the government is notably shorter than for other claims. In such cases, you only have six months to act following an accident with a city or county vehicle, or one year after an accident involving a state vehicle. For all other bus accident victims, the prevailing rule under Georgia law permits a general two-year timeframe to initiate a claim (OCGA § 9-3-33). It’s imperative to act swiftly, as time waits for no one when it comes to seeking the compensation you deserve.