The bus accident lawyers of The Champion Firm, P.C. represent bus passengers, bus drivers, other motorists, and pedestrians who have been hurt in bus accidents in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.
We know that bus accidents can be devastating and can have a lasting impact on your health, your finances, and your family. We’re here to help you get back on your feet, and we’ll work to ensure that justice is served.
The bus operator is responsible for the safety riders, as well as the safety of others on the road. If they or someone else was negligent in any way, you could be owed significant compensation for your injuries.
Our aggressive trial attorneys have successfully secured compensation for bus accident victims, including a $1,250,000 settlement for a bus rider who suffered a neck injury in a crash. We know the specific rules and regulations that bus operators must follow, and we know how to identify when negligence on the part of the operator, carrier, or third party caused a serious injury crash.
Let us put our experience to work for you. Call us or contact us online to discuss your case with us during a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Common Atlanta Bus Service Providers
Bus accidents can involve anything from school buses, public bus services, or private charter buses and shuttles.
- Atlanta School Bus Accidents – School bus accidents are every parent’s worst nightmare. School buses generally do not have seat belts, so the potential for injury to children exists, even though school buses are larger than most other vehicles on the roadways. Whether your accident involves a private school bus or a public school bus, the entity that owns and operates the bus should still be responsible for any damages. Although school districts in Atlanta generally have immunity from lawsuits, there is a Georgia law that says that immunity is waived to the extent of the insurance the school district purchases to cover injuries resulting from the ownership and use of its school buses. There is also a Georgia statute that requires counties, cities, and independent school systems that use school buses to purchase insurance that insures school children riding in the bus.
- Public Bus Accidents – Metro Atlanta has a number of different counties that provide public bus service for their residents. The most popular and well-known bus service is provided by MARTA, which is Atlanta’s Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority. MARTA operates a bus service, as well as Atlanta’s local rail system for transportation by train. MARTA’s bus service operates primarily in Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb Counties. There is also limited service to a location in Cobb County. Other popular bus services in the Atlanta metro area include Cobb County’s Cobb Community Transit Service, and Gwinnett County Transit.
- Private Bus Accidents – In addition to public transit system’s operating in the Atlanta area, private companies also provide transportation services that include bus and shuttle service. Private bus services includes charter bus services that may provide local, regional, or interstate transportation. These services may be used for everything from local party buses to providing travel for vacations, corporate outings, or school trips. Locally, Groome Transportation provides a popular shuttle service that provides transportation to the Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from several surrounding Georgia cities, including Macon, Athens, Augusta, and Columbus.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents in Atlanta
More than half a million people use Atlanta’s mass transit system every weekday. The city runs more than 550 buses that provide service along 1,439 miles of roads on over 100 routes. Half of all school children across the city ride a bus daily.
With so much activity, accidents occur frequently. A majority of bus accidents are caused by negligence on the part of one party or another. Some common causes of bus accidents include:
- Driver error on the part of either the bus driver or another driver on the road
- Driver distraction
- Driver fatigue or Hours-of-Service violations
- Alcohol or drug violations
- Aggressive driving
- Passenger distractions
- Defective or faulty equipment
Common Bus Accident Injuries
There are many different injuries that riders or the occupants of other vehicles could sustain in a bus crash, including:
- Spinal cord injuries – Damage to the vertebrae and discs that run the length of the spine. Spinal cord injuries are common in bus collisions and should always be taken seriously. Severe injury to the spinal cord could result in partial or total paralysis, including paraplegia or quadriplegia.
- Head injuries – Damage to the head by the force of an impact or when shaken severely. In a bus collision, a victim’s head may collide with the seat, a window, another passenger, or even the floor or the roof in a rollover crash. The occupants of other vehicles are also at risk of serious head trauma in a collision with a bus.
- Broken bones – In the event of a collision, riders can be thrown violently from their seats and may strike hard surfaces within the bus, resulting in broken bones or fractures.
- Whiplash – An injury that occurs when the vehicle in motion unexpectedly comes to a stop, and the body continues forward, forcing the neck to make a snapping, whip-like motion. This can happen when the bus collides into something or suddenly brakes.
- Cuts and Lacerations – Most buses have many windows which can easily shatter in a crash, causing severe cuts or lacerations. It is vital for victims to have these cuts treated immediately to prevent infection.
Who Is Liable for a Bus Accident in Atlanta?
More than one party may be responsible for an accident involving a bus. The governmental or private entity that runs the bus line may be negligent if they failed to hire responsible and qualified drivers, or the driver may be at fault if they fail to obey the rules of the road or operate the vehicle responsibly. The driver’s employer will generally also be accountable for the driver’s negligence as well.
Maintenance workers may also be liable if the bus was negligently maintained or inspected. Other parties involved in the operation of the vehicle and its passengers may be responsible for damages as well. Manufacturers of the buses and bus parts may be liable if one of its components or the way it was designed or assembled is defective and is the cause of the bus accident.
Bus operators and owners must adhere to special regulations and are responsible for the safety of their passengers and others on the road. A qualified attorney could help determine whether these regulations were followed and who is liable for the accident if they weren’t.
In the eyes of the law, school bus operators owe a higher duty of care while entrusted with the safe transportation of children. There are both federal and Georgia state regulations in place to ensure this safety while the children are on the bus, boarding the bus, waiting at the bus stop or crossing the street.
Another driver altogether may be responsible for damages if a different vehicle caused the accident.
Investigating Bus Accidents in Atlanta
Like any motor vehicle accident, an important part of handling any bus accident claim is investigating the cause of the accident. An adequate investigation will help determine who was at fault. In Atlanta, a police officer investigating a bus accident will generally try to determine who was at fault and issue a citation to the negligent driver. Although a citation is generally not admissible in Georgia, a guilty plea to a citation is admissible.
If you hire a lawyer to handle your bus accident claim, you should expect the lawyer to thoroughly investigate the accident. This includes interviewing any witnesses who were either on the bus or were in another vehicle and saw what happened. Some bus accident investigations may require an inspection of the accident site. In bus accident cases involving serious injuries or wrongful death where liability is in dispute, the services of an accident reconstructionist can help determine who was at fault.
Standard of Care for the Operation of Atlanta Buses
While Atlanta bus drivers have to follow the same rules of the road that apply to other drivers, bus drivers have additional rules that apply to them. Most drivers on the roadways have to exercise what is called “ordinary care” or “ordinary diligence.” However, buses are considered common carriers. This means that under Georgia law, they owe their passengers a heightened duty of care. Georgia courts have frequently said that this heightened duty of care requires the exercise of “extraordinary diligence.” This does not mean that bus drivers are always liable to their passengers following a bus accident, but it does mean that it is easier to hold them responsible for passenger injuries.
Bus drivers also must comply with various state and federal regulations that apply to the service they provide. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations may apply to the bus service, which would create standards for, among other things, the maintenance and inspection of the bus and hours of service requirements for the bus driver. An experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney can conduct the necessary legal research to find all of the local, state, and federal regulations that apply to the bus company and its drivers.
What Insurance Is Available in an Atlanta Bus Accident?
A common question that people have following a bus accident is what insurance is available to cover their damages. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including who was at fault and whether you were a passenger in the bus.
The person who was responsible for causing the accident should have liability insurance that can be used to pay your damages. For example, if the bus driver was at fault, then the bus’s liability insurance will provide coverage for the bus driver’s negligence. If another vehicle’s driver was responsible for causing the accident, then that driver’s liability insurance should apply.
But what if the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is not able to pay all of your damages? This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. Your uninsured motorist coverage, or the uninsured motorist insurance for the vehicle you were in, may be available to pay for your damages if the negligent driver either has no insurance or not enough insurance. It is important to remember that your uninsured motorist insurance, as well as the uninsured motorist coverage for any resident relatives, is available to you even if you were a passenger in another vehicle at the time of the accident. So, if you were a passenger in a bus and sustained injury, it is important that you notify your own car insurance company and the car insurance provider for any relatives you live with.
Can You Sue Public Transportation in Atlanta?
Many cities and other municipalities own and run their own transportation systems and are therefore responsible for the safety of their passengers. Georgia has a mandatory waiver of sovereign immunity for cities and counties for claims arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. The automatic waiver is $500,000, though cities and counties can purchase insurance in higher amounts—and if they do, the waiver is for the higher amount.
If the city is responsible for negligent hiring or training, then an insurance claim may be filed. Most cities, Atlanta included, carry insurance for such accidents.
Because special rules apply to claims against governmental agencies, it’s particularly critical to work with an attorney who understands what is required to seek compensation when public transit is involved.
Average Bus Accident Settlement Amounts
Every personal injury case is unique, and the settlement amounts depend on so many variables, including the extent of the injuries, continued care, and property damage, among other factors.
Settlement amounts are based on medical costs, future medical costs, damage to your vehicle, lost wages and compensation for future loss of earning capacity, legal and transportation expenses and for pain and suffering.
Damages can also include loss of enjoyment of life, loss of intimacy and support and mental anguish. Depending on the amount of negligence involved, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the party or parties liable for the accident.
Call a Bus Accident Lawyer in Atlanta Today!
The knowledgeable bus accident attorneys of The Champion Firm, P.C. can help injured bus riders, passengers of other motor vehicles and pedestrians seek compensation if they have been hurt in a bus crash.
We are prepared to investigate the accident and fight to seek every penny that you are owed from the responsible party. Our attorneys can analyze accident and medical reports, witness accounts, weather conditions, insurance documents, and police and transportation reports and regulations. We can put our years of expertise to work while you recover from your injuries.
Our attorneys can walk you through your claim, file it for you, negotiate for you, help you determine a reasonable settlement or go to court for you.
If you have been hurt in a bus accident, either as a bus passenger or a driver or passenger in another car, you likely have questions about your rights and legal options. We’re here to answer your questions and be your trusted counsel throughout the injury claims process.
Take the first step toward recovery by contacting our Atlanta bus accident lawyers to schedule a free consultation with us today.