What To Do If You or a Loved One Has Been Involved in a School Bus Accident
A child’s safety is their parents’ utmost concern, and millions of parents put their trust into school buses each day. Although school buses are typically safe forms of travel, accidents do happen. While incidents are rare, they can be devastating. Four to six school-age children die each year on school vehicles. Sometimes it is the driver’s fault, missing a stop sign or running light. However, most of the time, it is the drivers around them who are at fault. Therefore, it’s important for parents to understand the unique challenges of filing these kinds of cases, how fault is determined, and what to expect.
While every accident is different, there are some factors that make bus accidents more likely. These factors can also increase the likelihood of serious injuries to occupants and pedestrians. These include:
- Frequent stops
- Fatigued bus drivers
- Improperly-maintained buses
- Frequent stops
- Child pedestrians interacting with traffic
- Lack of child occupant restraints (seat belts) on many buses
How Can School Bus Accidents Be Avoided?
- Your child’s safety starts at the bus stop. It is important to arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus arrives to avoid running near or around the bus. Your child should stand at least 6 feet away from the curb, and make sure to remind them the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
- When the bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver says it’s okay to enter before moving toward the bus. They also should use the handrail to avoid tripping and falling.
- Most importantly, your child should never walk behind the school bus. If they must cross the street, they should do so in front, not behind the bus. They should also make sure to cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus. In addition, your child should make eye contact with the driver before they cross to ensure they can see him/her. If they drop something, they should tell the driver or an adult to ensure they are safe when picking up the item.
As a parent, your priority is your child’s safety. If you teach your child these simple rules, you are immensely decreasing their chance of injury.
To make bus transportation as safe as possible, you should follow these guidelines when around a school bus:
- When backing out of a driveway or garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When in a school zone, watch out for young people getting or leaving school.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near a bus stop.
- Be alert! Children arriving late for the bus may run into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state.
- Slow down! Watch for children in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks.
- Know the “flashing signal light system.”
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Unfortunately, even the best drivers can get involved in a school bus accident, and it is important to know what to do next.
School Bus Injury Claims Tend to be More Complicated
School bus accident cases are unique because they often involve a government agency. They also frequently involve third-party contractors, other drivers, and sometimes even your auto insurance.
The good news is that the riders on the bus tend to suffer less severe injuries due to the force of the impact being less extreme than of a smaller vehicle, like a compact car. However, for pedestrians, that is not the case. Pedestrians who are hit by buses often suffer life-changing injuries. Sometimes these crashes are fatal. If you’re involved in a bus accident, you should contact a qualified law firm immediately.
If you or someone you love was injured in a school bus accident, you have every right to sue. If you are the parent or legal guardian of a child who was injured in a school bus accident, you can sue on your child’s behalf if your child is under 18. You may be able to get compensation for medical expenses and other costs related to the injury.
Who Do I Sue in a School Bus Injury Claim?
The question of whom you can sue for a school bus accident may be complicated. It’s a good idea to talk to our experienced personal injury lawyers about what to do in your specific situation. Depending on what or who caused the accident, you may be able to sue some of the following people/organizations:
- The other driver. If the accident was a collision between the school bus and another vehicle, in most cases, the driver of the other vehicle is found to be at fault for causing the accident.
- The school district. If the school district’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident, you may be able to sue the district.
- The bus driver. You may be able to sue the driver of the school bus if their negligence caused or contributed to the accident. They are responsible for the safety of students riding the bus and may be legally responsible if a student gets hurt getting on and off the bus.
- The school bus company. Like school bus drivers, school bus companies must also use a high standard of care.
- The manufacturer of the bus. If the bus was defective, you may be able to sue the manufacturer.
In cases where the bus is owned or operated by the state, or the negligence is on the part of a state employee, you only have a limited amount of time to file your claim. So it is important to act quickly. Claims against government agencies, in some cases, must be filed within 6 months. Some jurisdictions have even shorter deadlines, so be sure to file your case quickly.
Although school buses are designed to be one of the safest forms of transportation, accidents can still occur. As opposed to children walking to school, school buses are much safer. Unfortunately, school buses are not equipped with seat belts.
Whether the cause of the accident was the school bus driver, a passing motor vehicle, or a mechanical defect, you need legal representation. The Truck Accident Law Firm is an expert in bus accident cases, and will fight hard for your rights in court. This will give you the highest chance of getting everything you deserve from your case. Contact The Truck Accident Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.