Understanding Georgia’s Vehicle Driver Responsibilities
Georgia has different licensing requirements for bus and truck drivers, but a lot of the liability risk each driver has depends on the cargo they’re carrying.
A fleet vehicle driver for an HVAC company that drives a truck between job sites will have different insurance requirements than a long-haul trucker who transports flammable or hazardous materials across state lines.
Both of those drivers would have different levels of liability exposure than a school bus driver or MARTA driver who is responsible for the safety of dozens of passengers.
Damage calculations in personal injury cases are fundamentally based on the cost of injuries and the long-term emotional and physical effects of those injuries.
A mover driving a commercial truck could hurt or even kill several people in a serious accident, but a bus driver could potentially hurt or kill dozens of people if their negligence resulted in a catastrophic accident.
In that sense, bus drivers carrying passengers do have more responsibilities than a moving truck driver who is transporting home goods.
Commercial Licensing Reflects That Difference in Responsibility
Another indication that different types of commercial drivers have varying levels of responsibility is the type of licensing they are required to carry.
The baseline Class C commercial licenses are required for drivers of vehicles that transport sixteen or more passengers and drivers that transport hazardous materials in large enough quantities that a “hazardous materials” placard must be affixed to the truck.
Class A and Class B licenses are required for heavier trucks and semi-trailer vehicles. Every commercial driver who wants to drive higher-weight vehicles legally must first obtain their Class C license.
Class A licenses are for truck drivers who haul trailers with a combined weight in excess of 26,001 pounds and a unit towed weight over 10,000 pounds. Class B licenses are required for single vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more with a unit load weight of less than 10,000 pounds.
What Type of Licenses Do Mass Transit andSchool Bus Drivers Require?
School buses come in a variety of sizes, with weights ranging from 6,000 pounds to 33,000 pounds. Some of MARTA’s largest buses are the 18 articulated buses they purchased back in 2016. Those buses are 60 feet long and weigh 43,180 pounds. They have 56 seats and a standing room for 67 additional passengers. The average mass transit bus in MARTA’s fleet weighs between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds.
MARTA driver applicants are usually required to have a Class A or B license with a passenger endorsement.
There are a number of license endorsements that may be required in Georgia if a commercial driver is operating a particularly risky vehicle or transporting hazardous/fragile cargo. These drivers have more responsibility than other commercial drivers, so they must be trained and licensed accordingly.
For example, the S commercial license endorsement is required for school bus drivers. Unlike some other licenses, there is no “permit” period for drivers pursuing the S endorsement. School bus drivers arguably have the most responsibility of any commercial driver, and the state doesn’t want to risk the safety of children for the sake of on-the-job licensure training.
Regular MARTA drivers or other mass-transit style drivers operating passenger vehicles in Georgia that carry sixteen or more people (including the driver) must have a P endorsement.
Truck drivers who want riskier and higher-paying hazardous material transport jobs must obtain an H commercial license endorsement. There’s even a special endorsement, X, for tank-style vehicles that are loaded with hazardous materials.
Holding Commercial Drivers Liable
Bus and truck drivers aren’t just responsible for their safety. They’re also responsible for the safety of potentially dozens of passengers as well as every other car, motorcycle, bicyclist, and pedestrian on the road around them. When a truck or bus driver is negligent and causes accidents, they and their employer should be held liable for injuries and damages they cause.
That’s also why commercial drivers and bus companies must carry much higher liability limits on their auto insurance policies. The damages these extremely heavy vehicles can inflict are exponentially greater than a standard passenger vehicle.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
A personal injury attorney can be instrumental in cases involving commercial and public transportation drivers. Here’s how:
Assess the Situation
Skilled in evaluating the circumstances surrounding your accident, a personal injury attorney can accurately gauge the level of negligence involved. They’ll determine who should be held accountable – the driver, the transportation company, or both.
Evidence is crucial in personal injury cases. An experienced attorney knows how to gather the necessary items — including accident reports, witness testimonies, and surveillance footage — to support your claim.
Navigate Through Legal Procedures
The legal process can be complex and overwhelming, especially when dealing with public transportation entities or large commercial companies. Your attorney will navigate these procedures, ensuring all paperwork is filed correctly and deadlines are met.
Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Insurance companies are notorious for offering less compensation than what victims deserve. A personal injury attorney will negotiate on your behalf, fighting for a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If your case goes to trial, a personal injury attorney can represent you in court. They will present your case most compellingly, aiming to convince the jury of the defendant’s negligence and your need for compensation.
Get Help After a Truck Accident or Bus Accident Injury in Atlanta
Every commercial driver has an extra level of responsibility, but not every truck driver is transporting dozens of passengers who must arrive at their destination safely.
If you’ve been injured in any truck accident or bus accident, the Dressie Law Firm is here to fight for you. We understand how scary life can be after an accident, particularly one involving a massive commercial truck or bus. Let us put our experience to work for you so you can get the compensation and justice you deserve.
No matter where your accident happened in Atlanta, we have attorneys who know the local laws and regulations and will fight hard for your rights. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.