Public Transportation / MARTA Accidents

Marta Bus Accidents.

Our firm has handled numerous cases involving MARTA buses. We have represented passengers who are injured when the bus driver negligently causes a collision and cases where bus passengers are injured by the negligence of another vehicle on the road.

The McAleer Law Firm went to trial against MARTA when a MARTA bus caused a hit and run accident that injured passengers in another car. Not only did McAleer Law win the case, in the process, the McAleer Law Firm established important legal precedent when MARTA took this case on appeal up to the Supreme Court of Georgia. The case is METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) v. KIMBERLY MORRIS, et al.

Ms. Kimberly Morris and Mr. Marlon Hatchett were visiting Atlanta from Montgomery, Alabama. At the intersection of Peachtree Street and 14th Street, Ms. Morris stopped at the red light. Her vehicle was in the far right lane. In the center lane, to the left of Ms. Morris’ vehicle, was a MARTA bus. When the light turned green, Ms. Morris proceeded straight. The MARTA bus, apparently trying to pull ahead of Ms. Morris and take her lane, sideswiped the left side of Ms. Morris’ vehicle.

Ms. Morris, Mr. Hatchet and eyewitness testified that the MARTA bus slowed down after the impact, appearing as if to stop for the collision, then abruptly drove off and eventually stopped at the next bus stop down Peachtree Street but was never apprehended or questioned by authorities. Although neither plaintiff went to the emergency room after the accident, Ms. Morris and Mr. Hatchett sustained permanent injuries for which the trial jury awarded Ms. Morris $276,244.64 and Mr. Morris $82,381.50 and also awarded the Plaintiff’s their attorney fees.

The trouble in the case was that since the MARTA bus sped off, the plaintiffs were not able to get the bus number or identify the bus driver. However, Mr. McAleer was able to show that one eyewitness, Priya Grover, was very familiar with MARTA buses and uses MARTA every day as a passenger. She testified that She has seen hundreds of MARTA buses and the bus that sideswiped Ms. Morris’s vehicle was white and had MARTA markings on it with three colored stripes. She was positive the bus she saw was a MARTA bus.

McAleer Law also gathered the testimony of Mr. Ganti who stated that the bus he saw sideswipe Ms. Morris’s vehicle was a municipal bus like ones that he had seen all over Atlanta, which he recognized to be a MARTA bus. Ms. Morris testified that the bus that sideswiped her vehicle was a MARTA bus because it said MARTA on the side. Morris also testified the MARTA bus said “Five Points” on it and Five Points is a bus stop on the Peachtree Route 110. Mr. Hatchett also identified the bus that hit Ms. Morris’s vehicle as a MARTA bus.

IDENTIFICATION OF MARTA EMPLOYEE IN COURSE AND SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT

Plaintiff Marlon Hatchett testified that after the collision the at-fault bus drove off and then stopped at a MARTA stop just south of Peachtree and 14th St. to let off passengers at a MARTA bus stop. Hatchett also testified that there were passengers on the MARTA bus. McAleer was able to get a MARTA Bus Operator to admit that only Defendant MARTA operates MARTA buses and to admit that the bus stop where the at-fault bus stopped after the collision as a MARTA bus stop.

MARTA relied on established Georgia case law that says that if all a plaintiff has as evidence is the name of the company on the side of a vehicle (an “insignia”), this alone is not enough to hold the company in the logo responsible. However, when looking at these insignia cases, it is readily apparent that this case against MARTA presents facts that go well beyond a mere insignia; facts which form a reliable foundation upon which the jury’s verdict was based.

The primary case Appellant relied upon was Sellers v. Air Therm Co., 231 Ga. App. 305 (1998). In Sellers, the plaintiff appealed a grant of summary judgment to defendant Air Therm Co. Seller’s vehicle was struck in a hit and run accident. The testimony with a description of the van and hair color of the driver was the only testimony provided in support of her assertion that the hit and run van was owned by Air Therm Co. In responding to Air Therm Co.’s motion for summary judgment, the Court of Appeals held that Sellers needed to "point to specific evidence giving rise to a triable issue whether Air Therm owned the van that ran Sellers off the road and whether the driver of the van was an employee or agent of Air Therm and was driving the vehicle in the course and scope of his employment." Seller’s testimony alone about the color of the van, writing, and hair color of the driver was not enough to establish a prima facie case against Air Therm Co.

Thus, at trial, Sellers requires a plaintiff to show any evidence of the following in order to survive a motion for directed verdict: A. Ownership, B. Employment, and C. Course and Scope of Employment. The McAleer Law Firm was able to prove what the Sellers’ court requires. The key in this case is that MARTA’s employee testified that ONLY MARTA employees are authorized to drive MARTA buses and this particular driver was seen wearing his MARTA uniform while dropping off and picking up passengers immediately after the collision AT A MARTA BUS STOP, i.e., there was no alternative evidence that supports even the possibility that this was not a MARTA driver acting in the course and scope of employment. This is usually not the case with other companies which may hire independent contractors that may use borrowed insignias.

Train Accidents

Train and public transit wrecks have the potential for being the most devastating catastrophes anyone can ever be involved in.

Though train transportation is relatively safe, train wrecks occur throughout the United States including Georgia. More often than not, there are deaths involved in train crashes, such as a fatal train wreck near Albany, Georgia, on September 5, 2008, in Miller County. In that case, two men collided with a stopped freight train at a railroad crossing after which their truck caught fire. Tragically, the two men in the truck died as a result of the crash. Our law firm handles such fatal accident cases.

Often, train crashes or derailments result in the leakage of harmful toxins, both as solids, liquids and gases, which can then contaminate neighborhoods and cause severe injury and even death. These types of spills are referred to at times at as hazardous material spill accidents.

Train accidents happen for a variety of reasons. For instance, railroad crossings may suffer from mechanical failures. It is common that human error is the root cause of a train derailment. In the event of a wreck, drastic personal injuries often occur due to the sheer mass and speed of trains. The enormous damage caused by train and railroad accidents frequently cause substantial loss of property and human suffering. Over 2,500 train accidents annually.

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