The Jackson, Mississippi Transit Authority, also known as JTRAN, provides bus services to residents and tourists throughout Jackson. However, serious injuries can occur if involved in an accident involving a JTRAN bus.
Lawsuits against JTRAN can be very complex, but our firm can help navigate your case through the many requirements placed on JTRAN cases. JTRAN is a publicly owned bus company that enjoys “sovereign immunity.” While this will significantly limit certain rights of victims, it does not prevent them from filing their cases against JTRAN.
For a free case review with our JTRAN accident and injury attorneys, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 today.
Filing a Lawsuit for Injuries Caused by JTRAN Buses in Jackson
Filing a lawsuit against JTRAN, the bus service offered to individuals in Jackson, is often more difficult than filing suit in a typical car accident case since JTRAN buses are considered “common carriers.” A common carrier is an entity, either private or public, that transports goods or people for a fee and is available to the general public. They typically have legal responsibilities and obligations to provide safe and non-discriminatory services and to exercise a high degree of care and diligence in the transportation of people. Examples of common carriers include shipowners, railroads, airlines, taxi services, and bus companies like JTRAN.
The duty of care applied to common carriers is generally higher than the standard applied to ordinary drivers since JTRAN bus drivers should be professionally trained and take all reasonable measures to ensure passenger safety. However, victims will need to overcome additional hurdles in order to file a lawsuit against JTRAN since it is a public bus company owned by the government. Unlike private bus companies, public government-owned bus companies are protected by what is known as “sovereign immunity.”
How Sovereign Immunity Can Affect a Jackson JTRAN Accident and Injury Lawsuit
Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that holds that the government or state cannot be sued without its consent. This allows government-owned entities to operate without fear of being overwhelmed with lawsuits since they offer services to the general public. The justification for sovereign immunity is that government-run businesses are intended to provide a service instead of generating a profit.
However, Miss. Code Ann. § 11-46-11 allows victims of an accident to file a lawsuit against JTRAN as long as the special procedures in the law are followed. Our JTRAN accident and injury lawyers can help you understand sovereign immunity and how to file your lawsuit. While some of these rules are arguably unfair, they will apply whenever compensation is sought against JTRAN.
Notice of Claim
The first requirement you must meet before you even file your lawsuit is to provide the city or the chancery clerk with what is known as a “Notice of Claim.” Government-owned entities like JTRAN have a right to be notified in writing of an individual’s intention to sue them before their suit is filed. Your Notice of Claim should include basic information, like your name, address, and phone number. It should also contain a detailed description of the accident you were involved in, including the date, time, and location of your JTRAN accident, as well as the names of the parties involved. Failure to provide this notice before your case, if filed, will likely result in having your case dismissed.
Reduced Statute of Limitations
Victims of JTRAN accidents will also have much less time to file their lawsuits than those injured in common car accidents. The “statute of limitations,” the time limit to file a lawsuit, is typically three years for most negligence lawsuits. However, JTRAN victims will only have one year from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit in Jackson. This is an extremely short amount of time, especially since you must notify JTRAN before your lawsuit can be filed. If a victim waits too long to initiate their claim, there might not be enough time to gather evidence and provide notice before the deadline passes.
Limitations on Recoverable Damages
One of the biggest impacts sovereign immunity has on a victim’s JTRAN lawsuit is how much compensation they are allowed to recover under the law. Regardless of the severity of a victim’s injuries, compensation is limited to $500,000. This includes damages for both your financial losses, as well as non-economic damages. This is clearly unfair to victims who might have suffered serious injuries like an amputation or wrongful death of a loved one in a JTRAN accident.
Punitive damages are also not available if successful in your lawsuit against JTRAN. Punitive damages are a type of legal damages that are awarded in civil cases in addition to compensatory damages. They are intended to punish the defendant for their actions and to deter them and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Unfortunately, victims will be barred from recovering these damages, even if the bus driver was driving drunk or recklessly.
Right to Jury Trial
Lastly, you do not have the right to a trial by jury in a lawsuit against JTRAN. In most civil cases, plaintiffs can choose whether to have their case heard before a jury or a judge. In the context of a JTRAN accident case, you only have the right to have your case argued in a “bench trial.” A bench trial is one in which the judge acts as both the arbiter of the case and the finder of fact, which is typically the jury’s role in jury trials.
This can result in lower awards for victims since judges tend to be less sympathetic to injured plaintiffs than a jury made up of ordinary people would be. Also, a judge might be more inclined to limit your damages since they usually represent the same government you are now suing.
Who Can Be Held Liable for JTRAN Accidents and Injuries in Jackson
Most JTRAN bus accidents occur due to the bus driver’s direct negligence. When the driver is driving under the influence, not following traffic laws, or driving while distracted, they should be held accountable for causing the accident you were injured in. Nevertheless, JTRAN bus accidents are not always the bus driver’s fault.
JTRAN could also be held liable if the company’s negligence caused your injuries. JTRAN is responsible for ensuring that all safety measures are followed by their drivers and that they are properly trained. JTRAN must also conduct background checks so that they are hiring experienced and competent drivers.
Our Jackson JTRAN Accident and Injury Attorneys Can Help
Contact Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 to set up your free case assessment with our JTRAN accident and injury lawyers.