Whether it’s to and from school, field trips, athletic events or sightseeing, when children are riding a schoolbus, their parents place their full trust in the hands of the bus driver. Many parents have reasonable fears regarding their child’s safety. In a matter of seconds, an accident while riding in a school bus can impact a child’s life in the worst possible way.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) 450,000 school buses transport 23.5 million students to and from school every year. As recently as late November of 2016, six elementary school students were killed and another 23 were hospitalized as a result of a school bus crash in Chattanooga. The driver is believed to have been traveling 50 mph in a 30 mph zone on a winding road off of the designated school bus route.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Any number of individuals or parties can be held liable for injuries or deaths that result from a school bus crash. Those could include:
- The school bus driver
- The school bus company
- The bus manufacturer or manufacturers of component parts of the bus
- The school district
- Any motorist who caused or contributed to the crash
Whoever was at fault for a school bus accident has to be held responsible for compensating the injured victims. Depending on the circumstances, the school district can be held liable too.
The Law of Negligence
Nearly all bus accident lawsuits fall under the law of negligence. In order to show negligence, the injured claimant must prove that:
- He or she was owed a duty of care by the defendant
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breach of duty caused the accident
- The accident was the proximate cause of his or her injuries
- He or she suffered legally recognized damages as a result of the injury
The Law of Negligence
The NHTSA estimates that more than half of all school bus accidents involve two or more vehicles. In accidents that only involved a school bus, the NHTSA cites four basic reasons for crashes. Those are:
- Colliding with fixed objects
- Falls from the bus
- Collisions with non-fixed objects
Common School Bus Accident Injuries
Three of the above four reasons are particularly worrisome because nearly all school buses don’t have seat belts. That makes children far more vulnerable to serious injuries in a crash with another vehicle or an object. Common injuries include:
- Head and brain and head injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Multiple limb and spinal fractures
- Broken noses and facial fractures
- Severe dental injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
If a person or entity has been determined to be liable for a victim’s injuries, the damages issue must be considered. The nature and amount of damages are decided on a case by case basis. In a school bus accident involving injured children, they might include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial costs in the event of a wrongful death
Notice of Intent
In some school bus accident cases, a percentage of liability might be attributable to a school district or other governmental entity. In those cases, a notice of intent to sue or a claim must be filed within a short time after the accident. Failure to file them on a timely basis can be cause for dismissal of a lawsuit.
We’re committed to building strong cases in school bus accidents and recovering maximum compensation for injured children. You can contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation on any school bus accident. Remember that there could only be a short window of time to preserve your rights so it’s important that you not delay in contacting apersonal injury lawyer Phoenix AZ can count on.
Thanks to our authors at Lorona Mead for their insight into Personal Injury Law.