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Atlanta public transportation might be one of the easiest ways to get around this busy city, but it isn’t always the safest. Ask the five people injured in the recent MARTA bus accident in Atlanta, and you’ll see why it’s necessary to understand at least the basics of what to do after an accident and injuries involving public transit. Public transportation accidents involve different rules and regulations than standard vehicle accidents. You may need to file a claim against the state or city government. Here’s what you need to know, from the Atlanta car accident lawyers at ChancoSchiffer P.C.
The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system provides transit to more than 500,000 people every weekday. It has over 338 rail cars, 173 lift vans, and more than 550 buses operating in and around metropolitan Atlanta. As with any large transportation system, however, accidents occur. If you suffered an injury in a MARTA accident, contact us today. We can provide you with reliable and experienced representation.
For information on commercial vehicle accidents, visit out Atlanta car accident attorney page to learn the difference in submitting a claim and what our firm can do for you.
Buses and trains make up the majority of MARTA’s fleet of vehicles. Though drivers of buses and trains are usually more experienced and careful than regular car drivers, accidents can still happen. Some of the common causes of bus and train accidents include:
Due to the large number of people often occupying buses and trains, accidents can leave numerous people severely injured. Some of the most common injuries that occur in bus and train accidents include:
MARTA owes all passengers a certain standard of care. Like other motorists, MARTA drivers must always act in a way that keeps people reasonably safe. However, because the drivers are professionals and well-trained, Georgia law holds them to a higher standard than other drivers. “Common carriers”, as the law calls public transportation entities, must act as reasonably careful operators.
If you are filing a lawsuit against a public transit entity such as MARTA, you still need to show that it acted negligently, and its actions caused your injury. However, it can be easier to prove negligence in public transit cases, as the law requires the drivers to be especially vigilant.
After any Atlanta auto accident on public or private transportation, your health should be your number one priority. Call 911 if you have injuries, or tell the bus driver or person making the call that you think you’re injured and need an ambulance. Don’t be too quick to say that you don’t have any injuries. The adrenaline could be masking pain or symptoms.
Instead, say that you aren’t sure and require a medical examination. Saying you don’t have injuries could impede your insurance claim if you discover injuries later. Also, don’t say anything that could incriminate you. Since Georgia is a fault state, the at-fault party will be the one liable for everyone else’s damages. Protect your rights by not admitting fault.
Treat the bus, school bus, train, subway, or taxi accident in terms of a future insurance claim. Start gathering and documenting details of your collision as soon as you can. Don’t assume no one is to blame or that you don’t have the right to financial recovery. Instead, assume the opposite and start preparing your case from the very beginning. While still on the scene of the public transportation accident, try to collect the following information:
If possible, take photographs of things while still at the scene of the wreck. Take pictures of the vehicle(s) involved, the roadway, your injuries, and anything that may be important to a future insurance claim, such as photos of a blown bus tire or a pothole that ran the bus off the road. When it comes to an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Ask a friend or family member to take pictures for you if you are unable to do so at the scene.
State and local governments preside over public transportation systems. Public transportation accidents involve common carrier laws, which state that vehicles in charge of transporting passengers must exercise the highest degree of care for passenger safety. A breach of this duty, resulting in a crash, is negligence. If the public entity in charge of the vehicle is guilty of negligence, injured passengers may have the right to file civil claims in pursuit of damage recovery.
You have one year from the date of injury or discovery of injury to file a notice of claim against the government in Georgia. This written notice shall go to the party allegedly at fault for the crash. The government entity will then either accept the claim and offer a settlement amount or deny the claim and give you the opportunity to file a personal injury lawsuit. At this point, hire a lawyer to represent you during negotiations if you haven’t already.
Claims against the Georgia or Atlanta government for public transportation accidents are complex and highly time-sensitive. Work with an experienced accident lawyer for your best chance at securing compensation.
Because MARTA is a government entity, filing a lawsuit is slightly different than if you filed against another person. In most personal injury claims, you can file a lawsuit without telling the other person beforehand. When filing against a government entity, you must send a notice that tells the government that you intend to file a claim within six months of the incident. The notice must include:
If you fail to notify the government in time, you may not be able to file a claim and get compensation for your injuries.
If the court determines that MARTA is liable for your injuries, it may award you a certain amount in damages. One of the most basic types of damages are past and future medical expenses, which include hospitalization bills, cost of doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, and any other medical fees you have because of the injury.
MARTA may also need to compensate you for wages you lost because of days off work that you needed to recover. Lost wages include a difference in earning potential if you are no longer able to earn a salary as high as before the accident.
MARTA accidents can cause a significant change in overall quality of life. The court may order compensation for pain and suffering damages. Most attorneys will take statements from people who can testify about your quality of life before and after the accident.
Filing a claim against MARTA can be extremely difficult. The attorneys at ChancoSchiffer P.C. have experience going up against public entities. We have a deep understanding of MARTA requirements and Georgia’s public transit rules and regulations. Contact ChancoSchiffer P.C. for dedicated attorneys who will do everything possible to get you compensation for your public transit injury.