If you were in a bus accident, you may have suffered head trauma, spinal cord damage, or other serious injuries. Hitting the seat in front of you, getting thrown onto the floor or out of the window, or falling onto other passengers can cause serious, if not fatal, injuries.
If the negligence of a public, private, or school bus driver left you or a loved one with debilitating injuries, call the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, now at 865-546-1111. We can help you get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Schedule a free legal evaluation with a bus accident lawyer in Chattanooga today.
Bus Companies Must Meet Higher Standards.
Tennessee considers public and private bus companies as “common carriers” because they get paid to transport goods and people from one place to another on a regular basis. Because of their status, state and federal laws hold bus companies to a higher standard of care than a private car owner. Bus companies face more liability issues when they breach their duty and cause an accident.
Insurance companies of common carriers know about this high risk and do their best to deny insurance claims or get lawsuits tossed out in court when bus passengers or motorists pursue compensation for their injuries. While you may file a personal injury claim on your own, the process becomes complicated when accidents involve common carriers.
Having an established attorney who knows what tricks insurers play can help. Our law firm has been successful in protecting bus accident victims from these tricks and helping them get the money they deserve for their injuries and property damage.
What If I Was in a Crash Involving a Public Transportation Bus?
Since public transit buses operate under government authority, establishing liability can be difficult after a crash. For instance, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) operates a public transit system with fixed-route bus routes that serve Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and surrounding areas. CARTA functions as a “component unit” of the City of Chattanooga. This means CARTA is a legally separate organization that financially depends on the Chattanooga city government.
If a bus accident involving CARTA occurs, which entity do passengers hold liable for injuries: CARTA or the City of Chattanooga? If you were in a CARTA bus accident, we recommend that you speak to one of our lawyers first before taking legal action. Tennessee’s Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) may apply in you case.
The GTLA protects governmental entities from lawsuits in some situations. The act also removes governmental immunity and makes them liable for damages in other cases. Our law firm’s accomplished attorneys are proficient in handling cases involving the GTLA.
Does the GTLA Protect School Districts After a Bus Crash?
School districts also fall under the GTLA, but that does not mean they are not liable for school bus accidents.
In 2016, Hamilton County Schools and Durham Bus Services—a private company—came under fire after a school bus driver caused a crash that killed six of the 37 elementary school students on the bus. According to media reports, police said the 24-year-old bus driver was speeding and using a cellphone before the crash occurred. Both the school district and private bus company now face lawsuits on the local and federal level.
If you or your child suffered injuries in a school bus crash, our attorneys can investigate your case. We will determine if you qualify for compensation.
GTLA Compensation Limits
The GTLA caps the amount of compensation a claimant can receive from a governmental entity involved in an accident. The act allows awards of:
- $300,000 in bodily injury or death coverage for each person per accident;
- $700,000 of bodily injury or death coverage for all people in a bus crash; and
- $100,000 to cover property damage per crash.
What If I Was a Passenger on a Private Bus?
While commercial bus companies must follow state law, private companies operating intercity buses, such as Greyhound Lines Inc., and MegaBus, must also comply with federal safety regulations. This adds another complex legal layer to personal injury claims when accidents occur involving private commercial bus companies.
If you were riding a private bus during a crash, our attorneys can help you hold the negligent party responsible. We understand how liability applies to these cases.
How Can I Hold Someone Responsible for My Damages?
Before you file a personal injury claim against a public or private bus company, Tennessee law requires that you prove how the negligence of the bus company or its driver caused the accident in which you suffered injuries. The law requires proof of four elements:
- The defendants had a higher duty of care to provide safe transportation for their passengers;
- The defendants breached their duty;
- The defendants’ negligence caused an accident; and
- Actual damages occurred due to the crash.
What Evidence Do I Need to Support My Claim?
We conduct an investigation by collecting evidence to show how the defendant caused the accident. For example, we look at whether:
- The bus driver was speeding;
- The bus driver drove while impaired;
- The bus driver was texting or using a phone;
- The bus driver had previous traffic citations;
- The bus had malfunctioning brakes; or
- The company conducted regular maintenance and inspectionon the bus.
What Compensation Can I Recover After a Bus Crash?
We help you file an insurance claim and negotiate the claim with the defendants’ insurer. We work hard to get you a settlement that will cover your current and future expenses, which may include your:
- Medical bills;
- Lost income;
- Physical therapy;
- Prescription medications;
- Assistive medical devices, like canes, wheelchairs, or crutches;
- Funeral expenses, if a loved one died in the bus accident;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress.
If necessary, we will help you file a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve.
We Can Help After a Chattanooga Bus Accident.
At the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, we start working on your claim immediately and do not stop until we build the strongest case possible on your behalf. Call us today at 865-546-1111 and let us help you get on the road to recovery.