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Public transportation is supposed to be safe. When it is not, passengers injured in a mass transit accident may be able to recover damages. Companies that run buses, trains, taxis, airplanes, and other means of public transport may be liable for injuries caused by their employees’ negligence. But first you have to know if you have a case – and then you have to follow certain procedures to get compensation. Attorney David Brauns is a mass transit accident attorney in Duluth Georgia who can help evaluate your situation.
Understand that any business that transports passengers becomes what is known as a “common carrier” and has a duty to safely bring you from Point A to Point B. These include:
- Other passenger transporters
The legal duty for common carriers of passengers is spelled out in O.C.G.A. §46-9-132 where it states, “A carrier of passengers must exercise extraordinary diligence to protect the lives and persons of his passengers but is not liable for injuries to them after having used such diligence.”
This essentially means that as long as the common carrier used “extraordinary diligence” in trying to ensure the safety of passengers, it is not liable. Thus, if you were in a bus, train, or other mass transit accident, it is vital that you prove the carrier violated this duty and was negligent.
This does not mean that carriers have to use absolute diligence, but rather that they are responsible for providing more than ordinary care. So the first question to resolve after a mass transit accident is whether the carrier, through its employees, met this heightened standard. And that is where getting advice from an attorney like David Brauns is necessary.
The first thing Brauns Law, PC will help you figure out is whether the carrier acted negligently and, thus, if you have a viable claim.
So what kind of information is important? Well, common causes of accidents can involve:
- Operator error
- Sleep deprivation
- Alcohol or drug use
- Poor judgment
- Mechanical failures
- Faulty repairs
So who could be responsible? While it might be the human operator, it also might be the manufacturer of a faulty part, or the mechanic who installed it, or perhaps everyone did everything they could but what happened was outside their control, such as if an Act of God (weather, natural disaster, etc.) caused the wreck.
David Brauns will be able to investigate what happened, collect evidence, identify the responsible individuals or corporate entities, and start gathering witness statements immediately. Unfortunately, as time passes, memory fades so it is critical to gather as much information as possible as quickly as feasible.
Mass transit is an integral part of Duluth’s infrastructure. It allows people to get from one place to another without owning their own vehicle or walking or biking for miles and miles. While this service is now essential to our way of life, it’s not without its drawbacks.
One major drawback is the risk of accidents and injuries to those who use mass transit systems. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a mass transit accident, attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are ready to meet with you. Here are some frequent questions we receive about mass transit accidents in Duluth.
What mass transit systems service the Duluth area?
MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Act) serves the Duluth area population with buses, trains, streetcars, and even escalators and elevators. This popular system provides transit options to more than 500,000 individuals each weekday. It operates more than 338 rail cars, 173 lift vans, and over 550 buses in and around metropolitan Atlanta. As with any extensive transportation system, however, accidents can and do occur.
MARTA is a common carrier and has a responsibility to provide safe means of transportation. However, it’s also a public entity, which often limits legal options for lawsuits.
Another mass transit option for Duluth area residents is train service. Georgia has more than 4,600 miles of active rail lines. Four Amtrak routes and five tourist rail operations make it the most extensive rail system in the Southeast. Many run through Gwinnett County.
Who is liable for mass transit accidents in Duluth?
All mass transit companies have a duty to keep their patrons and those around their transit vehicles safe. If a mass transit accident occurs, they could be liable if the company or its employees failed to prevent accidents. Generally, this means that if they or their employees were negligent, they must pay for the resulting injuries.
For example, mass transit companies are responsible for:
- Maintaining their fleet
- Hiring trustworthy and vetted employees
- Providing the proper training for employees
- Addressing safety complaints and concerns
If a mass transit organization fails to take these steps or several others and it causes an injury accident, they can and should be held accountable. The damages they cause can be severe, permanent, and even fatal.
What causes mass transit accidents in Duluth?
Many factors can contribute to a mass transit accident; sometimes, more than one contributes to a single accident.
Common causes of mass transit accidents can involve:
- Operator error
- Driver negligence, including fatigue, inexperience, speeding, drugs or alcohol impairment, distraction, and failing to observe traffic signals
- Incorrect dispatching
- Inadequate security, lighting, or safety measures
- Lack of training and supervision
- Faulty or defective vehicles or parts
- Lack of or negligent vehicle maintenance
- Defectively designed or poorly maintained rails or roads
- Violations of safety rules, regulations, or laws
- Recklessness by other motorists
In many of these situations, the operator, mass transit company, or a designer or manufacturer could be liable for an accident. When you hire the attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, they will investigate your accident thoroughly. Once they determine how it happened, they can find out who is liable for your injuries and hold them accountable for their negligence.
What does state law say about Duluth mass transit accidents and carrier liability?
Mass transit companies owe all passengers a certain standard of care. Like other motorists, their drivers and operators must always conduct themselves in a way that keeps people reasonably safe. However, because the drivers are well-trained professionals, Georgia law holds them to a higher standard than other non-mass transit drivers. The law calls public transportation entities “common carriers” and says they must act as reasonably careful operators.
Those filing a lawsuit against a public transit entity such as MARTA need to prove that the entity or their employees acted negligently, and those actions caused the claimant’s injury. It can be easier to prove negligence in public transit cases in some circumstances since the law requires mass transit drivers to be incredibly attentive. However, this doesn’t mean that these claims are easy to settle and don’t need a skilled mass transit injury lawyer’s attention.
Is filing a lawsuit against Duluth public transit the same as filing one against another company?
Filing a lawsuit against MARTA or another government entity is somewhat different from if you filed against another person. In most claims, you don’t have to inform the other party before filing a lawsuit. However, when filing against a government entity, you must send a notice informing the government of your intention to file a claim within the first six months of the incident.
The notice must include:
- Your name and address
- The losses you suffered
- A statement of your intent to pursue compensation
- A description of the place, time, and circumstance of the accident
It might seem simple, but this is a critical step in seeking the compensation you deserve for your damages. Suppose you fail to notify the government within the allotted six months. In that case, you probably can’t file a claim and get compensation for your injuries. It’s best if you contact an experienced mass transit lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Your lawyer will be familiar with the specific deadlines you need to meet, and they can help ensure you don’t miss any of them.
How are Duluth mass transit accidents different from other injury accidents?
Injuries resulting from mass transit accidents are similar to those caused by other crashes. However, that’s about all these accident types have in common. If you’ve suffered an injury, it’s on you to make a case against the negligent party. You’ll likely face many challenges, including:
Governmental Entities: Government agencies are responsible for operating many mass transit systems. When suing a governmental agency, the legalities are different from those that apply to private parties. Successfully recovering compensation from a government entity is harder than recovering compensation from a private company or an individual.
Government entities are frequently immune from civil liability. Even in cases where governmental immunity doesn’t apply, other types of immunity make these cases challenging. In addition, before suing a government entity, an ante litem (pre-suit) notice is required. If you don’t provide such a notice within the allotted deadline, you can’t file a lawsuit against that entity. In Georgia, the ante litem statutes require notice to a county or state government within one year of the accident, while you must provide notice to a city government within six months.
Gathering Evidence: After any accident, someone should collect critical evidence from the accident scene and other places as soon as possible. When a governmental party is involved, its investigators often start gathering the evidence it needs to defend itself immediately. Remember that those investigators aren’t working for you. Obtaining evidence from them and any other individuals often proves difficult.
Settling Your Case: Most Duluth mass transit accident cases settle out of court. However, those against the government are more likely to go to trial. The government has the resources it needs to defend itself against lawsuits and knows how to look for weaknesses in an injured party’s case. You need an attorney who is skilled at negotiations but is still able and willing to take your case into a courtroom if necessary.
What types of compensation are available to Duluth mass transit accident victims?
Victims who suffer injuries in mass transit accidents can seek compensation for their damages.
Depending on your case, you might seek economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
- Economic damages. Economic damages are for quantifiable losses. You can receive compensation for hospital expenses and other medical bills. These bills can quickly become overwhelming, and you shouldn’t have to pay for the ensuing results of another party’s negligence. If you’re out of work recovering from your injury or receiving medical care, you might recover compensation for your lost wages. Economic damages can also be for things like property damage. For example, if your wedding ring was lost or damaged in an accident.
- Non-economic damages. Many times, injuries go beyond just physical effects. Mass transit accident victims can also receive compensation for the physical and mental burdens they face due to the injury. They can receive compensation for their pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of independence, and scarring and disfigurement, among many other intangible things. However, non-economic damages can be harder to recover because they are not quantifiable. Insurance companies often calculate the value of non-economic damages using a multiplier with the value of your economic damages.
- Punitive damages. Claimants do not often receive punitive damages in typical personal injury cases. Unlike the other damages, punitive damages do not compensate losses of the injured party—they punish the negligent party and deter them or others from engaging in the same behavior in the future. In Georgia, punitive damages are capped or limited to $250,000. Punitive damages are rare since they only apply when the negligent party is guilty of willful misconduct, oppression, fraud, or malice. A common example in which punitive damages might apply is in the case of a drunk driving accident. Drunk drivers get behind the wheel of a car, knowing the danger and potential consequences of their choices to others. Their decision is more than simple negligence.
Duluth mass transit accident victims must show that negligence caused their accident. This is challenging. Proving malice or ill will on the part of the at-fault party is even harder.
When should I contact a Duluth mass transit attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Accident Firm?
With any Duluth mass transit accident, reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible is in your best interest. Receiving necessary medical attention should be paramount to anything else. Once you are medically stable, don’t procrastinate in calling Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible increases the chances of a better outcome in your claim.
It can also have many other benefits, including:
- Not missing the statute of limitations – Your lawyer will know what statute of limitations applies to your claim and will ensure that you don’t miss it.
- Preserving evidence early – With an attorney on your side from the start, there’s a greater chance that essential evidence to prove your claim can be collected and preserved. This strengthens your claim.
- Not falling for insurance adjuster tactics – Insurance adjusters use many tactics to defeat anyone who files a claim against their insureds. They ask for recorded statements and try to twist your words and get you to innocently say something that will harm your claim. Adjusters also like to speak to injured individuals before they’ve even had a chance to talk to a lawyer. In doing so, there’s a better chance they can get you to settle for much less than your claim is actually worth. It’s best to not speak to insurance adjusters at all. Instead, hire an attorney and refer the adjuster to them.
If a bus or a train isn’t on time, it’s not a violation of a consumer’s legal rights. However, when someone suffers injuries or dies in a mass transit accident, the injured individual or the deceased’s family may undoubtedly have a legal right to compensation for their immense loss. If you have injuries from a mass transit accident, our Duluth mass transit accident lawyers might help you recover compensation from the responsible party.
At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, we know the vast financial, physical, and emotional challenges you face after a mass transit accident. We’re here to help. We meticulously investigate mass transit accidents to expose what went wrong and who is legally responsible for it. Next, we determine how much compensation you should expect from your lawsuit. Finally, we get to work negotiating a settlement or taking your case to trial if needed. We represent clients from the time they retain us until their case concludes.
Injuries sustained in these mass transit accidents can be significant and numerous. In all the confusion and with the numbers of people hurt, it can be difficult to get a clear idea of what happened. Since you need to be tending to your own injuries and those of loved ones, fact-finding is not your immediate priority. Leave that to the professionals who can investigate the facts with an understanding of what the law demands to prove liability and get compensation.
Recoverable damages may include not only hospital and other medical and prescription bills, but costs for pain and suffering, lost opportunities, and lost wages.
Depending on the person or entity responsible, there are strict guidelines and limits on how long you have to bring a claim and how you must bring that claim, especially if the liable party is a government entity. Don’t waste any time. Talk to David Brauns. Contact us at 404-348-0889.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096
Phone: (404) 205-8614
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