All passengers/pedestrians should know what actions to take if they are involved in a bus-related accident that negatively affects someone’s livelihood, their own livelihood, and results in damages to their person, property or ability to earn wages. A bus is a large and heavy motor vehicle that can carry more than 10 passengers including the driver thus increasing the potential for larger monetary damages compared to that of a single motor vehicle accident. Damages including personal injuries sustained in bus accidents are often more severe and involve a larger number of people. In accordance with Georgia law, the accident and damages should be addressed within the two-year statute of limitations period for personal injury claims, and four years for property damage claims. Bus accident injuries are generally a result of negligence by either the bus operator or the bus owner. These include charter bus lines, school district buses, public transit buses, and tour buses. Negligence could be due to a person, owner maintenance, mechanical error, weather, other drivers or a transportation route itself.
Georgia is a Comparative Fault State which enables plaintiffs to seek damages even if they played some part in the accident and are partially to blame. It is a tort law that allows plaintiffs to sue for the percentage of damages caused by the defendant. Legal action can be brought against the bus company if the elements of negligence are present including: defendant owed the duty of care; had a breach in the duty of care; and the breach caused the injuries or loss to the plaintiff.
The persons that can be sued in a bus accident scenario are:
- Owner(s) of bus as employer;
- Driver of bus;
- Commercial insurer of bus;
- Regulatory agency supporting bus safety on issues of bus manufacturer and parts manufacturer;
- Licensing agencies of privately owned and public transit vehicles, city, county or state.
The two types of damages that victims can sue for include:
1) compensatory damages which are those damages causing economic (loss of wages, medical bills, and property damage) and non-economic loss to victim (pain and suffering); and
2) punitive damages meant to punish the persons being sued (Defendants).
Seeking professional counsel to navigate through the legal action process regarding bus accidents and a positive outcome is suggested.
Bus accidents may occur due to:
- A lack of proper training for bus drivers;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Talking on the phone or texting while driving;
- Limitations to bus driver visibility;
- Aggressive driving techniques, speeding or dangerous maneuvering of bus;
- Sudden acceleration or braking;
- Poor bus maintenance.
If you are involved in a bus accident in Cobb County, choosing a direction regarding legal action should be determined as close to the accident date for the best possible settlement. The Law Office of Imbriale Injury Law can assist you with your questions regarding bus-related accidents and how to proceed. In lieu of the many bus accidents reported in recent months all over the United States, Georgia has upheld the school bus stop law “Operation Stop Arm” and requires:
- All traffic from both directions must stop on a two-lane roadway;
- All traffic from both directions must stop when school bus stops for passengers on a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane;
- All traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane roadway without a median strip;
- All traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane highway with a center turning lane;
- Only traffic following a bus must stop when on a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median strip.
- Decreasing speed when approaching school buses illustrates safety awareness.
Failure to adhere to these rules could result in points and fines as determined by the severity if the infraction.