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Understanding Liability in GA School Bus Accidents

School bus accidents are a potential risk that many parents and guardians take daily when they entrust their children to school bus drivers. While school bus accidents are considered rare, they do occur, and when they do, they can be devastating.

Children can suffer severe injuries or even death, leading to loss of income, expensive medical bills, and emotional trauma for the families involved. If you or someone you know has been involved in a school bus accident in Georgia, it’s crucial to understand the liability if you intend to pursue a case.

What is Liability?

In Georgia, a person or entity is liable for an accident if they acted with negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. In the case of a school bus accident, liability can fall on the bus driver, bus company, school district, state, or even the manufacturer of the bus.

Who is Accountable for School Bus Accidents in Georgia?

To establish liability, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty of care, failed to meet that duty, and the failure caused injury or harm. Here are some parties who may be liable for a school bus accident:

  • The bus driver. If the bus driver acted negligently or recklessly, they can be held liable for the accident. For instance, if the bus driver fails to obey traffic signals, exceeds speed limits, or drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • The bus company. Georgia bus company owners are required to ensure that all their buses are in good condition and fit for the road. If the bus company fails to provide regular maintenance, repair, and inspection of their buses, they can be held liable for accidents.
  • The bus manufacturer. If a mechanical failure of the bus was the cause of the accident, the manufacturer of the bus or its parts can be held liable.
  • The school district. The school district is required by law to hire competent and properly licensed drivers. If a school district hires an unqualified driver, they can be held liable. Additionally, if a school district fails to ensure that all students are safely loaded and unloaded from the bus, it can be held liable. They may also be liable if the accident was caused by negligence concerning bus maintenance or repairs if they knew the bus was not being regularly inspected or maintained. It is important to note that school districts in Georgia are generally required to carry liability insurance for their school buses, and you must claim damages through their insurance in most cases. This insurance should cover any damages resulting from accidents, but it can be limited in certain circumstances. For instance, if the school district is found to have been negligent in hiring or training the driver, they may not be able to claim coverage under their policy.
  • The state of Georgia. If the bus accident occurred because of faulty road design, inadequate signage, or any other factor caused by the state's negligence, the state may be held liable for the accident.

What Compensation Can You Get in a School Bus Accident Case?

School bus accident victims can be awarded economic and non-economic damages that aim to compensate victims and their families for:

  • medical expenses,
  • pain and suffering,
  • emotional trauma,
  • property damage,
  • loss of enjoyment of life,
  • present and future wage loss, and
  • other related costs.

The amount of compensation you can get depends on factors such as the extent of your injuries, the impact on your quality of life, and other case-specific details. You should work with an experienced attorney to calculate damages as it can be nuanced and complicated.

Comparative Negligence

Georgia follows the law of comparative negligence when it comes to liability. This means that even if the injured party is partially responsible for the accident, they can still recover damages, but their compensation will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if the injured party is found to be 30% at fault, their settlement award will be reduced by 30%.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for injury or wrongful death involving a school bus accident is generally two years from the date of the incident. However, this timeline may vary depending on certain circumstances, so it’s important to consult an experienced attorney to confirm the applicable statute of limitations for your case.

Discuss Your Case with Our Experienced Attorneys

Suppose you or a loved one has suffered harm in a school bus accident, it’s essential to have an experienced attorney who can navigate the legal landscape and achieve the maximum compensation you deserve. With the right attorney, you can hold the negligent party accountable and ensure that you’re rightfully compensated for all losses, financial and otherwise. If you’ve been recently involved in a school bus accident in Georgia, reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you pursue justice.

At The Dickinson Law Firm, our attorneys have decades of collective legal experience, and we are committed to helping our clients receive fair compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in a school bus accident, we can help you fight to receive the best possible case settlement. Call (770) 924-8155 to schedule an initial consultation today.