An inmate bus crossed several lanes of traffic in Thomas County and struck an SUV, killing two people and critically injuring one other person.
The wreck occurred east of Thomasville on Highway 84. According to the Georgia State Patrol, the inmate transportation vehicle driver, 58-year-old Ernest Givens, stopped at a stop sign but apparently did not see a large Suburban enter the intersection, and the inmate van T-boned the SUV. 40-year-old Bobby Edwards and his daughter, 6-year-old Lacy Edwards, were both killed almost instantly. Another occupant, Robyn Edwards, is clinging to life in serious condition at an area hospital. Counsellors were on hand at Goshen Elementary in Pike County, Alabama, where Ms. Edwards was a kindergarten student.
Charges are pending against Mr. Givens for his role in causing the crash.
Notice of Claim
If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a crash involving a school bus, inmate bus, police car, garbage truck, or any other government vehicle, there are serious time pressures involved. In fact, victims have only about 125 working days to file a notice of claim. Except on grounds of mental incapacity and some other extreme circumstances, courts very rarely grant extensions of time or allow late-filed claims to proceed, even if the time frame at issue is only a few hours.
Furthermore, except in wrongful death, the six months begins counting down at the date of crash, not at the date the plaintiff discovered an injury. Many times, head injury and whiplash victims may not experience serious symptoms for several weeks. By that time, it may be too late to obtain a doctor’s diagnosis, investigate the claim, estimate the amount of damages, and file the claim before the six months elapse.
Once the claim is filed, the municipal agency which employed the tortfeasor (negligent actor) has 90 days to either pay the demanded amount, settle the claim, or deny liability. If the claim is denied or the government misses the deadline, the matter can be appealed to civil court.
Third Party Liability
In the above story, Thomas County is probably responsible for the Edwards’ damages, under the theory of respondeat superior. This doctrine also applies to private employers, like taxicab companies, shipping companies, and, at least arguably, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
To establish third party liability, the plaintiff must generally prove that the tortfeasor was an “employee” who was acting within the “scope of employment” at the time of the car crash or other event. Employee is defined very broadly to include almost any worker that the employer controlled, even if the workers are classified as independent contractors or interns for other purposes.
The same interpretation applies to scope of employment. If the tortfeasor is benefiting the employer in any way, even by driving a company car with a company logo, the employee was acting within the scope of employment.
Third party liability is especially important if the tortfeasor was uninsured or underinsured, because these theories give injured victims additional sources of compensation for the economic and noneconomic losses.
Contact a Hard-Working Lawyer
If you were injured in a car crash, time is not on your side. For a free consultation with an experienced Fayetteville, GA auto accident attorney who gets to work quickly, contact the Wade Law Offices in Fayetteville. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury matters.