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Difference Between Private and Public Bus Accident Claims

By Grant Law Office on July 12, 2021

Inside of a tour bus

Public and private buses provide a much-needed service on our crowded roads throughout Atlanta, but they should be entrusted to experienced and fully certified drivers. When a driver acts recklessly and causes a collision, it can leave passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians with lifelong disabilities and deep emotional scars. The consequences of a bus accident cannot be understated, and victims deserve proper compensation for their injuries. Recovering compensation will ultimately come down to whether the bus was operated by a private or public company.

Holding Private Bus Companies Accountable

Private bus companies include any bus that was not operated by a government agency, such as for-rental buses, buses operated by local churches, and long-distance coaches that travel across state lines. Although owned by private business and travel agencies, these vehicles are still held to a high standard. Buses are considered “passenger carriers” and required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to follow national guidelines, including strict drug and alcohol tests, maintenance guidelines, and weight limits.

Private buses can include:

  • Long distance coaches like Megabus
  • Tour buses
  • Rental buses
  • Private school buses
  • Church buses used for retreats

If you were injured by a private bus driver, then you can file an auto accident claim against the bus’s insurance company. Private bus companies often have larger insurance policies than standard cars, allowing you to recover a significant amount of compensation for your injuries. However, you only have two years from the date of the collision to file a claim or pursue a lawsuit in a Georgia civil court. It is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to begin collecting evidence, negotiating with the bus company’s insurance provider, and prepare for a lawsuit.

Filing a Claim After a Government Bus Accident

Public buses are operated by local, state, or federal government agencies. Here in Atlanta, most public buses are operated by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and school buses are overseen by the Atlanta Public Schools, our city’s major school district. There are also other public buses in our city operated by state and federal agencies, such as Greyhound, which operates across the United States.

To get compensation from a public bus operator, you will need to file a claim under the Georgia Tort Claims Act. This act allows victims of public bus accidents to recover compensation as a result of driver negligence, but the process is more complicated. You only have one year from the date of the accident to notify a government agency of a claim. Failing to file this notice can result in your claim being rejected. In addition, you can only recover up to $1,000,000 for an accident, however you can recover up to $2,000,000 for a wrongful death.

In both public and private bus accidents, it is important to work with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney who can guide you through the claims process. At Grant Law Office, our husband and wife team have worked together for decades on complex personal injury claims to help victims of serious injuries recover compensation, including victims of public bus accidents. We can investigate the bus company who injured you, explain how to recover compensation, and advocate for the highest possible award on your behalf. Call us today at (404) 995-3955 to get a free case evaluation.

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