Each day many people opt out of driving themselves to work and decide instead to ride some form of public transportation. From subways, to trains, to buses, to ferries, even taxis and airplanes, when you get on to any form of pubic transportation you expect your ride to be safe and without incident. For the most part, this is how the trip goes, but what happens if the unexpected occurs and you find yourself sustaining an injury due to some type of accident?
The most common cause of an accident involving any form of public transportation is a collision with another vehicle or a solid object. This often leads to persons getting jolted or thrown within the vehicle, potentially sustaining an injury. When this happens, the best thing to do first is consult with a personal injury attorney who has a solid understanding of the complexities of the laws which apply directly to these types of incidents.
Why the law is different for personal injury cases on public transportation
Personal injuries sustained as a result of an incident with another individual are subject to different laws and processes than those sustained while on public transportation. In order to make a claim against a public transportation company, you typically have to navigate through special state laws called State Tort Claims Acts. These usually have time and notice deadlines for filing injury claims, which a personal injury attorney can help you understand.
These laws can vary by state, but in Georgia, you are required to submit a claim in writing within 12 months of sustaining an injury on public transportation. This claim must be sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery with a return receipt requested. It can also be delivered by hand to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services in addition to going to the state government entity (the public transportation company) involved in the claim. The information required on the claim includes:
- Name of government entity, the acts, or commissions involved with the claim
- Time injury occurred
- Location where injury occurred
- Nature of loss suffered
- Amount of loss that’s being claimed
- Specific act or omission which caused the injury and subsequent loss
Proving negligence is a little different
The last item on the claim, explaining the specific act or omission which caused the injury is where you’ll need to establish negligence. This can be the most challenging part of the case. For example, if you’re on a MARTA bus, here in Atlanta, and you sustain an injury because the bus gets into an accident as a result of a flat tire, there might not be any evidence to show it was the bus driver’s fault. Flats happen. Maybe a nail got into the tire from the nearby construction zone. However, if you get injured because the driver of your bus runs a stop sign and collides with another vehicle, you have a greater chance of proving negligence.
Public transportation operators are actually labeled, by law, as common carriers, and as such, they owe their passengers a higher degree of care. According to Georgia law, common carriers are required to exercise extraordinary care and are liable for their
Knowing and understanding this legal definition can be very helpful to individuals filing personal injury claims against public transportation entities. It’s also why having a personal injury lawyer assist you with your claim is important. Their level of comprehension
Compensation caps on claims
Equally critical to understanding how and when to file a claim and what constitutes as negligence, it’s relevant to note that most states set compensation caps on personal injury claims against public transportation companies. In Georgia, the limits of liability vary based on whether a single person is filing a claim, or there were a group of individuals injured in a single incident. For an individual, the maximum amount of compensation is $1,000,000 while multiple persons filing in the same injury can only receive a maximum compensation of $3,000,000. Within a group claim, no individual within that group can get more than $1,000,000 as well.
It’s essential to be aware of the maximums for compensation when calculating the amount of loss for your claim.
Hiring the right attorney to navigate the process
Navigating the process of filing a personal injury claim against a public transportation company can be complicated and challenging to handle alone. With so many unique aspects to the process, it’s important to have the right legal representation working toward getting you the best possible outcome for your claim
The legal team at the Patterson Cozzo Law Firm is well-versed in the various, state-specific regulations related to this situation. Upon initial consultation, the experienced lawyers at Patterson Cozzo provide you with personalized advice built around transparency and integrity to help you achieve the best results possible for your case.