Public transportation is very common in metropolitan areas. In Atlanta, MARTA provides cheap and reliable transportation to people that need it. While it is a great system, it’s not a perfect one and issues can occur. Unfortunately, people can and have gotten hurt while being a passenger of a public transportation system. In situations like these its important to know that compensation is possible if the public transportation system was acting negligently. You still have the right to get financial compensation even if the incident occurred while you were taking MARTA or any other public transportation system.
Same as a car accident, in an accident where you were taking public transportation you are entitled to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
One of the first things that you, as the victim, should do is to contact an attorney that specializes in personal injury cases. The most important reason for hiring a Gwinnett personal injury attorney is that being that public transportation systems are what’s known as a public entity meaning they work on behalf of the government. Because of this, there are several more steps that need to be taken to get compensation from the government.
Notice of Claim
The first thing that your personal injury lawyer will do when filing a claim is they need to file a notice of claim with the court system. This is very important because if this does not happen and your claim is filed without it, then your case will automatically be dismissed. Not only is this an important step to take, but you also need to be mindful that the rules to filing a notice of claim change depending on which level of government you plan on filing against. For a local municipality, you must file within six months of the date of loss (in other words, the day your incident happened) (O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5). For county government, it’s within a year of your date of loss (O.C.G.A. § 36-11-1), and state government, being the most complicated and most involved process, must be filed within 12 months of your date of loss (O.C.G.A § 50-21-26).
What makes this step very important and the most delicate part of the process is that there are strict rules that must be followed to be able to file a lawsuit against the government. For example, when filing a notice of claim with a local municipality you must provide the time and location of the accident, the severities of your injuries, and an explanation of the negligence on behalf of the government (O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5). Ironically, filing a claim with the county level of government gives you a lot more flexibility when filing because county level government only asks for “sufficient” information to be able to conduct a proper investigation (O.C.G.A. § 36-11-1). Finally, the state government requires that you provide the parties involved, time and location of accident, types of injuries received during incident, how much compensation you’re seeking, explanation of how the public transportation system was negligent and how their negligence caused your injuries. Also, with the state government, the notice of claim must be in writing (so no email or digital version) and must be mailed or hand delivered to the governmental office that the claim is meant for (if it’s public transportation then it would be MARTA) and the Risk Management division of the Department of Administrative Services (O.C.G.A § 50-21-26). The reasons for this are that the Risk Management division of the Department of Administrative Services oversees the settlement of claims if they are approved (O.C.G.A. 50-21-36 (2010).
Governmental Immunity for Injury Claims
In the state of Georgia, the government, whether it’s local, municipal, or state, has certain immunity from personal injury claims. This means that the government is exempt from settling any claims brought by citizens; however, this rule allows for some exceptions where the government entity, such as MARTA or any other public transportation system, can be held liable for damages. The most common exception is whether the buses or any other transportation vehicle has insurance coverage. If they have insurance coverage, and they were at fault, then that means that the public transport is liable for damages (O.C.G.A. 50-21-23 (a)(b) (2010)).
Road to Recovery
The most important thing to remember is that you have the right to be compensated even if the defendant is the government; however, being in this situation can be incredibly stressful. While having to deal with all of this, you will also be wondering how you are going to pay your bills while you’re hurting and out of work, which can also add to your stress. Given the complexity of these types of cases, you need attorneys you can trust and that are approachable. Call Bross, McAllister & Williams, LLC. With a free consultation, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers will ease your mind and guide you down the Road to Recovery.