A recent MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) bus accident in Atlanta has brought the issue of bus-related accidents to the forefront of public attention. The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reported that both a pedestrian and a passenger on the bus suffered injuries after a bus turning left struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The AJC also reported that officers issued the bus driver a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

In this case, it is clear that the driver was responsible, but in other cases, there may be many potential responsible parties.

Who can be legally responsible for a bus accident?

Liability for an accident involving a MARTA bus will, of course, depend on the facts of the case but liable parties may include:

  • The driver: If the driver of the MARTA bus fails to follow the traffic laws, or is otherwise negligent, and causes an accident, victims may be able to hold the driver liable.
  • The city: Given that the City of Atlanta governs the transportation of passengers on its buses, the city itself may be liable for any MARTA accidents.
  • The bus manufacturer or auto shop:  If the accident was due to a mechanical failure or some other equipment issue, the manufacturing firm or the company responsible for ensuring the operation of the buses may be liable. If an auto shop’s incorrect repairs led to the accident, victims may be able to hold the auto shop liable.
  • Another driver: If another driver’s negligence caused the accident, that driver may be liable.

What do victims need to do to hold a bus driver liable?

Georgia law considers bus drivers “common carriers” and requires them to uphold a standard of "extraordinary diligence." O.C.G.A. § 46-9-1 provides that the presumption of the law is against them in the case of loss.

This does not excuse an injured party from having to prove that the fault was due to the negligence of the driver, but rather, simply holds the driver (and carrier) to a higher standard of care.

Drivers engaged in any of the following acts fail to meet this increased duty.

  • Speeding
  • Driving while impaired
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to follow posted traffic signs
  • Failing to stop
  • Following too close

Essentially, any operation of a common carrier vehicle that puts passengers or third parties at risk is a violation of the standard of care owed to them.

Bringing a Claim against the City

As described above, the City of Atlanta operates MARTA; therefore, to bring a claim against MARTA is to bring a claim against the city. To bring a claim against the City of Atlanta, victims must satisfy certain requirements. Claims against the government are complicated and have very strict time limits. A lawyer can help.

Make sure you speak with an Atlanta auto accident lawyer at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. if you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a MARTA bus accident. Contact us today at 404-474-0804.

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