School Bus AccidentsLast updated on: July 1, 2020
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We place immense trust in our schools’ ability to safely transport our children to and from school every day. Sadly, school bus accidents do occur, and have the potential to seriously injure the children involved. A school bus accident attorney may help you navigate the complex process of seeking compensation for injuries caused by a school bus crash.
If your child has been injured in a school bus crash, we understand how confusing this time can be for you. An experienced school bus accident lawyer may allow you to focus on helping your child recover from the accident and injuries while your attorney focuses on helping you pursue any compensation your child may be entitled to as a result of the accident. During this difficult time, you should contact the experienced school bus accident attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we cannot reach a favorable result for your claim, you will not owe us anything.
SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT STATISTICS
School bus crashes, while rare, happen more often than you may think. The fact that school buses by nature carry many children, means that even one accident can result in numerous children being injured. School bus crashes make up about 0.4% of all vehicle crashes in the US. From 2007-2016 there were over 1,000 accidents involving school buses. These accidents resulted in over 1,200 fatalities. In accidents involving school buses, around 36% of injuries are sustained by passengers on the bus. In 2018, 4,000 school bus passengers were injured in accidents.
COMMON CAUSES OF SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENTS
Improper or Poor Training
School buses are much larger than ordinary passenger vehicles like cars. Safe operation of a school bus requires the driver to have received the proper training on these vehicles, including safe turning, stopping, and merging.
Placing too many children on a school bus can make operating the school bus dangerous. Overcrowding may also increase the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
Speeding in any vehicle can cause an accident. However, speeding can be especially dangerous for school buses due to their size and design as well as the fact that students often have no seat belts.
School bus drivers may become distracted, often by the children on the bus, and this distraction may lead to accidents. Other drivers who may be distracted while driving may fail to take notice of a bus slowing down or preparing to stop, causing an accident.
Like any machine, school buses must be properly maintained to prevent parts from failing. Old and worn tires or worn brakes can easily cause an accident.
Poor Driving Conditions
Inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, or fog can make it difficult for drivers to see while also reducing a vehicle’s grip on the road.
HOW TO PREVENT SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENTS
Parents and Children
Entering and exiting the bus:
- Monitor children if possible to help ensure the child gets on or off the bus safely.
- Children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before entering or exiting the bus or crossing the street.
- Children should never cross behind the bus.
- If it is necessary to cross the street to enter or exit the bus, the child should cross in front to remain visible to the driver at all times.
- If the child drops an item while crossing in front of the bus, the child should not pick the item up, but rather inform the bus driver of the situation. If the child immediately picks up a fallen item, the driver may be unable to see them and unaware they are in front of the bus.
On the bus:
- Children should remain seated at all times when the bus is in motion to help ensure maximum protection in the event of an accident.
- Children should be calm and quiet to reduce noise and distractions that may prevent the driver from paying proper attention to the road and surrounding traffic.
- Be aware of the presence of school buses as they may make frequent stops.
- Pay attention to signals the school bus gives, including flashing yellow lights, indicating the bus is preparing to stop as well as flashing red lights, indicating the bus is stopped and children may be entering/exiting the bus.
- Never pass a stopped school bus as a child may be crossing the street to board or exit the bus.
- Even after a bus has turned off its flashing red lights, withdrawn its stop sign arm, and has started to move forward, be on the lookout for children.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT
1. Seek Medical Attention
If your child has been involved in a school bus crash you should seek medical attention for your child as soon as possible. Even if your child is transported home by other means after the accident, you should still have them checked out by a physician, even if there are no apparent injuries. Some injuries may not be obvious or readily visible, but they may still be serious or even life-threatening in some cases. It is important for a physician to examine your child and determine if they have sustained any injuries due to the accident.
2. Document Injuries
You should document any injuries your child may have suffered because of a bus accident. Along with photo or video evidence, having your child examined by a physician will provide medical records that will provide information regarding any injuries your child may have suffered. Try to get the contact information of any witnesses as well as from the school bus driver.
3. Document the Accident
If possible, you should try to document details surrounding the accident. It may be difficult to document evidence of the accident scene itself if your child is involved in a school bus accident as you often may not be at the scene, but any evidence you are able to gather may help determine the nature of the accident and help support your claim for compensation.
4. Consult an Attorney
Most school buses are operated by public schools. As government entities, public schools may often be protected by some form of immunity from liability. If your child is injured in a school bus accident, you should contact a school bus accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. A school bus accident attorney may be able to help you determine the most appropriate avenue to pursue compensation depending on the details of the accident.
WHO MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE BUS ACCIDENT
In most car accidents, the at-fault party may be liable for injuries and damages, however, school bus accidents are often more complex. Who may be held liable will depend on the specific details regarding the cause of the accident.
If the bus driver is at fault for the accident, they may be liable. However, if the bus is operated by a public school, they may be protected by government immunity. In cases involving government immunity, a higher degree of fault may be necessary to defeat the bus driver’s immunity claim.
If another driver caused the accident, they may be held liable. You may also be able to file a third-party claim against their insurer.
School District or Private School
If the accident was caused by the bus driver, the school district may be liable as the driver’s employer. However, the extent of this liability may be limited by government immunity. If the bus is operated by a private school, the private school may also be liable. The driver’s employer, whether private or public, may also be liable under a claim of negligent hiring, especially if the driver had a history of accidents, negligent driving, traffic infractions, or other waning signs that the employer overlooked when hiring or retaining the driver.
The manufacturer of the bus may be liable if a fault in the bus’s design or manufacture caused the accident or injuries suffered in the accident.
If the accident was caused by a faulty part, such as brakes, the part manufacturer may be liable.
If the maintenance provider improperly maintained the school bus, and this improper maintenance caused an accident, the maintenance provider may be liable.
If the accident was caused by improperly maintained roads, the government entity responsible for maintaining the road may be liable.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
The statute of limitations provides a time frame within which a claim may be filed. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims. However, in cases involving injured children, the statute of limitations may be postponed until the child turns 18, and legally becomes an adult. The minor will then have two years, or the length provided for in that state’s statute of limitations, from the date the minor turns 18 in which to file a claim for compensation.
SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT COMPENSATION
Compensation for injuries suffered in a school bus accident may cover both economic as well as non-economic damages. Compensation varies with every case, and is dependent on several variables. Compensation may include:
The victim of a school bus accident may be entitled to compensation for any medical costs including the cost of doctor visits, hospital stays, any treatment received, and any rehabilitative treatments.
Loss of Future Earning Potential
If the child is disabled as a result of the accident, they may be able to pursue compensation for the impact this may have on their earning potential in the future.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation may be awarded if your child is injured in a school bus accident. This compensation may take several factors into consideration, such as the severity of injuries sustained, permanent disabilities caused by the accident, disfigurements caused by the accident, and the impact on the child’s quality of life.
GET HELP FROM A SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our school bus accident attorneys are here to assist you with your child’s claim. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being involved in a crash while on the school bus.
Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. As one of our clients, you will not pay anything unless we can win your school bus accident case.
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