MARTA bus accident case drags out for months

An accident with a MARTA bus leaves a family without their car or a replacement for months.

Braxton Davis remembers the day vividly. It was a clear day in May. It was Friday. He was ready for the weekend. But instead, it started a months’ long ordeal that even he, a lawyer, couldn't figure out.

The corner where the accident happened in Druid Hills stays busy. And it often has MARTA buses coming through only to make a stop right after it turns.

Braxton Davis drives through here a lot. "Yes, almost every day."

But May 12th would be different.

This intersection in Atlanta's Druid Hills community has two left turning lanes. According to the police report, Mr. Davis was in that far right lane, the bus was in the lane left of him.

Mr. Davis said, "As I was approaching the intersection to make a left is when he veered over."

Veered into his lane and his car up ended up on the curb.

"I climbed out of the passenger’s side of the car because the driver’s door was sandwiched up against the bus and the curb."

According to the police report, the bus driver was cited for an “improper turn.” And, MARTA eventually declared Mr. Davis' car totaled.

"It’s an open and shut case. Driver cited at the scene. Clear fault," he said. 

But nothing was clear cut about how MARTA management handled his case going forward. The accident happened May 12th.  December 6th he talked to the Fox 5 I-Team frustrated that he no longer had a rental car, was still paying on his totaled car and couldn't get a new one until MARTA paid off his car loan.  

Mr. Davis, a lawyer, kept a timeline of how the case developed.

"At first, it took a month for MARTA to accept liability and to put me in a rental car."

But by October MARTA wanted the rental car returned even though Mr. Davis had not been yet made whole.

"It's been severely difficult to even get hold of their claims representatives. I actually had to make a trip to their office because they've not been responsive."

But even this lawyer who had to hire a lawyer to help him out was at his wit's end and came to the Fox 5 I-Team.

He talked to us December 6th seven months after this accident. We reached out to MARTA management who assured us that Braxton Davis "will be made whole 12/13/17." His bank, we were told, would be getting a $36,000 check and Mr. Davis would get a check for car payments he made on an automobile he couldn't drive.

We asked MARTA what has taken so long. They tell us the delays come from "BMW" which said it had "'system issues' from late August through mid-October."

In an October email to Mr. Davis, MARTA told him the delay was caused by "a transition (at MARTA) in the department with our leaders...."

Whatever the reason, the ordeal was supposed to be over Wednesday, Dec.13th.  But at deadline, Braxton Davis says, BMW said it had not yet received the money.

Braxton Davis had the means to fix up an older car and drive it while he waited for his May run-in with a MARTA bus to sort itself out.  But he worries what something like this might do to a family just struggling to get by.

"Imagine somebody who can't navigate the legal system or have another attorney at his disposal. It could crush a family."