Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Rome, GA Bus Accident Attorney
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
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Bus accidents in Rome, GA can happen for many reasons like drivers not being careful, buses not working right, or roads in bad shape. When these big vehicles crash, they can really hurt people and mess up their lives. The law in Georgia (O.C.G.A § 51-12-4) says that folks who get hurt because of someone else’s mistake can ask for money to help with their pain, medical bills, and other troubles.
These claims can get tricky, especially when you’re trying to figure out who is to blame. Georgia uses a rule called “modified comparative negligence” (O.C.G.A § 51-12-33) which means that if you’re a little bit at fault, you might get less money. But if you’re not to blame at all, you should get the full amount to help with your recovery.
At the Wetherington Law Firm, we know how tough it can be after a bus accident. We’ve got the know-how to make sure that the law works for you and not against you. We roll up our sleeves to dig into your case and fight hard so that you get the compensation you need. So, if you’ve been in a bus wreck, let’s talk. We’re here to help put things right.
Understanding Bus Accident Claims in Rome, GA
Bus accident claims in Rome, GA involve seeking compensation for injuries and losses sustained as a result of a bus-related collision or incident. Due to the potential for serious injuries and the complexity of liability, these claims require careful legal consideration. Here’s what you need to understand about bus accident claims:
Figuring out who is at fault in a bus accident is vital. It could be the bus driver, the company that owns the bus, another driver, or even the city if it’s a public transit vehicle. Sometimes multiple parties share the blame.
Potential for Serious Injuries
Bus accidents are significant because they can cause more severe injuries compared to regular car accidents. This means victims could face long recovery times, high medical bills, and lasting effects that could change their lives.
Filing a Claim
When you file a claim, you’re asking for money to cover your losses. These can include medical expenses, lost earnings if you can’t work because of the accident, and pain and suffering. You might also get money to fix or replace personal property damaged in the crash.
Legal Time Limits
Georgia has laws (called “statutes of limitations”) that set a deadline for when claims must be filed. For personal injury or property damage claims in Georgia, you usually have two years from the date of the accident to start legal action (O.C.G.A § 9-3-33).
Handling a bus accident claim can be overwhelming if you’re doing it on your own. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer who knows about bus accidents and can help you understand your rights and what you’re owed.
The Most Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus accidents can happen for a number of reasons, often involving different factors. Knowing the most common causes can help you understand how these accidents happen and who might be at fault. Here are some of the top reasons why bus accidents occur:
Just like with car accidents, the person driving the bus can make mistakes. This includes speeding, not paying attention, or driving while tired or under the influence.
Poor Bus Maintenance
Buses need regular checks to make sure they’re safe. If the company owning the bus doesn’t fix things like brakes or lights, it can lead to trouble on the road.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Bad roads, like those with potholes or without clear signs, can cause accidents. Sometimes weather, like rain or snow, makes it hard to drive safely too.
Accidents can happen when other cars drive dangerously around buses. This can be due to speeding, merging incorrectly, or not keeping a safe distance from the bus.
Lack of Safety Features
Sometimes buses don’t have seatbelts or they have broken ones, and this can make injuries worse if there’s a crash.
If the bus driver hasn’t been trained well, they might not know how to handle the bus properly. This could lead to accidents, especially in tough driving situations.
How Bus Accidents Impact Victims and Families
Bus accidents can shake up the lives of victims and their families in big ways. When a bus crashes, many people may get hurt, and the impacts can last a long time. Here’s a look at how these accidents can affect victims and their loved ones:
Being in a bus accident can cause different injuries, from cuts and broken bones to more serious stuff like head injuries or damage to the spine. Some folks might need a lot of doctor’s care and might not get better for a long time. Sadly, some injuries can change lives forever, leaving people unable to do things they used to.
Getting hurt in an accident can be really scary and can make people feel stressed or really sad afterwards. Some might feel afraid to ride buses again or have bad dreams about the crash. This emotional pain is just as important as physical injuries.
After an accident, the money worries can pile up. Medical bills can get really high, and if you’re hurt too bad to work, you might not get paid. This can make it hard to pay for basic things like food or rent. Families may find it tough too, especially if they need to help take care of the person who got hurt.
Figuring out who is to blame for a bus accident isn’t always easy. It can take a long time and be pretty difficult. You might have to talk to the bus company, insurance companies, and maybe even go to court. All of this can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to heal from your injuries.
Georgia Laws Governing Bus Accident Compensation
Georgia has specific laws that deal with how people can get money for losses when they’ve been in a bus accident. Understanding these laws is key to making sure victims get what they’re owed.
In Georgia, the rule is “modified comparative negligence” (found in O.C.G.A § 51-12-33). This means if you were a little bit at fault in the accident, your compensation could be less. But if you’re less than 50% to blame, you can still get some money for your losses.
Time Limits for Filing Claims
There’s also a time limit, known as a “statute of limitations,” for when you need to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, you generally have two years from the date of the bus accident to start your lawsuit (see O.C.G.A § 9-3-33). If you wait too long, you might not be able to get any money for your accident.
Types of Compensation
The law lets you ask for different types of money, like for medical bills, money you didn’t get because you couldn’t work, fixing your stuff that got broken, and for the pain and bad times you went through because of the accident.
Special Rules for Claims Against the Government
If a public bus is involved, special rules and time limits apply for making a claim against the government. It’s a bit trickier and often needs to be done quicker than a regular lawsuit.
The Process of Filing a Bus Accident Claim
Filing a bus accident claim can be a multi-step process that may seem daunting, especially while recovering from an incident. The following guide outlines a general process that one might follow when dealing with a bus accident claim:
1. Seek Medical Attention
Immediately after the accident, prioritize your health and safety. Always get a thorough medical evaluation, even if you feel fine, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
2. Report the Accident
Notify the authorities and have a police report filed. Also, report the accident to the bus company involved.
3. Gather Evidence
If possible, collect any evidence from the accident scene, such as photos, videos, and contact information of witnesses. Keep all medical records and receipts related to your injuries and treatment.
4. Keep Detailed Records
Start a file for all documents related to the accident, including medical bills, correspondence with insurance companies, and any other expenses incurred due to the accident.
5. Notify Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance carrier about the accident, but be cautious when discussing the incident. Avoid giving a recorded statement or accepting any settlement offers without legal advice.
6. Consult with a Bus Accident Attorney
Consulting with an attorney who has experience with bus accident litigation can provide you guidance and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Your lawyer will likely conduct an independent investigation to determine fault, collect evidence, and build a solid case on your behalf.
8. Filing the Claim
With the assistance of your attorney, you’ll file a claim against the responsible party, which could be the bus driver, the bus company, a parts manufacturer, or another negligent motorist.
9. Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Your attorney will handle negotiations with the insurance companies to reach a settlement that adequately covers your losses.
If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer should be prepared to take the case to court. They will represent you throughout the legal process, presenting your case and advocating for fair compensation.
11. Settlement or Trial Verdict
The process culminates in a settlement agreement or a court trial where a judge or jury determines the compensation you will receive.
Types of Compensation Available to Bus Accident Victims
If you’re a victim of a bus accident, there are different types of compensation (often referred to as “damages”) that you could potentially receive, depending on the specifics of your case. These compensatory damages are meant to cover various losses resulting from the accident. Here are some of the common forms of compensation that bus accident victims might be entitled to:
1. Medical Expenses
Compensation for medical costs can cover everything from emergency treatment at the scene or in the hospital to surgeries, medication, doctor’s appointments, physiotherapy, and long-term care needs.
2. Lost Wages
If the injuries from the bus accident have prevented you from working, you can be compensated for the wages you’ve already lost as well as future earnings, if your ability to work is impacted in the long term.
3. Pain and Suffering
This non-economic compensation is for the physical pain and emotional distress you’ve suffered because of the accident. This can also cover the loss of enjoyment of life if your injuries prevent you from engaging in activities you once enjoyed.
4. Property Damage
If any personal belongings were damaged in the accident, such as your vehicle or electronics, you could be compensated for the repair or replacement of these items.
5. Loss of Consortium
If the accident impacts your relationship with your spouse, you or your spouse might be entitled to damages for the loss of companionship, affection, and support.
6. Rehabilitation Costs
Post-accident recovery might involve rehabilitation or physical therapy. Compensation can help cover these expenses.
7. Punitive Damages
Although less common, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct is found to be especially harmful or egregious. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future wrongful acts.
8. Wrongful Death
If the bus accident tragically resulted in a fatality, the victim’s family might be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. This can cover burial and funeral expenses, lost future income, and pain and suffering of the deceased before they passed away.
9. Other Out-of-Pocket Costs
You might have other costs because of the accident, like for travel to doctors’ appointments, modifications to your home because of a disability, and more.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Bus Accident
If you find yourself involved in a bus accident, it’s crucial to take specific actions right away, not only for your safety but also to protect your legal rights. Here are the key steps you should take immediately following a bus accident:
1. Ensure Your Safety
- Check for Injuries: Immediately check yourself and others for injuries. If you can, help people who may be in danger or need assistance.
- Evacuate if Necessary: If there’s a danger of fire or another threat, safely evacuate the bus if possible.
2. Call for Help
- Dial Emergency Services: Call 911 to report the accident and request medical assistance if there are any injuries. The police will also come to the scene to file a report.
3. Gather Information
- Bus Information: Note the bus number, route, and the name of the bus company.
- Driver Information: Get the bus driver’s name, license number, and information about their employer.
- Witnesses: If there are witnesses who saw what happened, try to get their contact information—names, phone numbers, emails.
- Photographs: Take pictures of the scene, including the bus, other vehicles involved, any injuries, and factors that may have contributed to the accident.
4. Seek Medical Attention
- Medical Care: Allow the medical personnel to assess your condition, even if you think you aren’t hurt. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent due to adrenaline.
5. Do Not Discuss Fault
- Limit Discussion: Be careful about what you say at the scene. Don’t admit fault or make definitive statements about the accident to other passengers, the bus driver, or insurance representatives.
6. Report the Accident
- Notify Your Own Insurance: Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, inform your insurance company that you were involved in a bus accident.
- Bus Company: Sometimes, bus companies have their own procedures for accidents, so it’s helpful to follow any directives they have for reporting.
7. Document Everything
- Medical Records: Keep all documentation related to any medical treatment you receive as a result of the accident.
- Expenses: Save receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the accident.
- Journal: It can be useful to write down your account of the accident and how your injuries progress, including the impact on your daily life.
8. Consult with an Attorney
- Legal Advice: Before speaking with insurance adjusters or accepting any settlements, it might be wise to speak with a personal injury attorney experienced in bus accident cases. They can provide guidance on your rights and help you navigate potential claims.
Whether your bus accident claim goes to trial depends on several factors, including the circumstances of the accident, the clarity of fault, the willingness of the involved parties to settle, and the adequacy of the settlement offer in relation to the damages you have suffered. However, it’s important to know that the vast majority of personal injury claims, including bus accident claims, are settled out of court.
Here are some scenarios that might affect whether your case goes to trial:
Settlement is Reached:
Your attorney and the defendant’s insurance company (or the defendant themselves in some cases) will typically negotiate to reach a settlement that is acceptable to both parties. If both sides can agree on an amount that compensates you fairly for your injuries and losses, there’s no need for a trial.
Disputes Over Liability or Damages:
If there’s a dispute over who was at fault for the accident or how much the claim is worth, this can lead to prolonged negotiations. If these disputes cannot be resolved, then the case may go to trial.
Insufficient Settlement Offers:
Sometimes, the insurance company or the defendant might not offer a settlement that fully covers your losses or reflects the severity of your injuries. If they are not willing to provide a fair offer, your attorney might suggest taking the case to trial to pursue adequate compensation.
In some situations, your attorney may believe that taking your case to trial will result in a better outcome. This might be the case if the evidence is particularly strong in your favor or if the potential damages are very high.
Complexity of the Case:
Complex cases with multiple liable parties or significant damages might be more likely to go to trial. When complexities arise during litigation, it might be harder to reach a settlement.
Ultimately, as the plaintiff, you have the right to decide whether to accept a settlement or proceed to trial. Your attorney should give you advice based on their legal expertise, but the decision is yours to make.
It’s worth noting that settlements can occur at any stage of the legal process—even after a trial has started—as long as both parties agree.
Yes, in many jurisdictions you can still claim compensation if you are partly to blame for a bus accident, but the amount you can recover may be reduced depending on the degree of your fault. This system is known as comparative negligence.
In Georgia, for example, as long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident, under the modified comparative negligence rule (O.C.G.A § 51-12-33), you can still recover damages. However, the amount you would receive is reduced by the percentage of your fault. For instance, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident and the total damages equal $100,000, you would be able to recover 80% of the amount, which is $80,000.
If you are 50% or more responsible for the accident, you will not be eligible to receive any compensation under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule.