Establishing Responsibility after a School Bus Crash
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare—you put your child on the school bus every day and you trust that the driver will exercise good judgment and reasonable care, and that your children will be safe. The good news—your children are pretty safe, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—less than one half of one percent of all motor vehicle accidents every year involve “school transportation” vehicles, and more than 90% of the serious injuries suffered in those accidents were to students on a bus. But what if your child was one of the few that did suffer injury? What are your options? How do you go about getting full and fair compensation for all your losses?
The Different Types of School Bus Claims
Though many school bus accidents involve collisions with other vehicles, there are other types of mishaps that can cause serious injury, including:
- Slips and falls on wet steps onto a bus
- Injuries sustained, including whiplash and similar soft tissue trauma, when a school bus makes a sudden start or stop
- Injuries suffered when a school bus takes a turn or corner at too high a rate of speed
- Injuries to pedestrians hit by a school bus at or near a bus stop
Determining Fault in a School Bus Accident
In a school bus accident claim, as with any personal injury claim based on negligence or carelessness, one of the first things you’ll need to do is show that someone failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care, and that their failure caused injury or loss. With respect to a school bus crash, there can be a number of potentially responsible parties:
- The bus driver — You may be able to show that the bus driver failed to act as a reasonable person would. The bus driver may have been speeding, may have been driving without adequate rest, may have been taking medication that impaired his or her ability to drive and respond, or may even have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, the driver may have ignored traffic laws or failed to take roadway or weather conditions into account
- The school or school system — You may be able to demonstrate that the school/school district failed to properly train the driver or to ensure that that driver had appropriate licenses or certifications. The school may have failed to examine the driver’s record to determine whether he or she had a history of careless driving. The school district may also have failed to properly monitor and maintain the bus, leading to mechanical problems that caused or contributed to the accident.
- The manufacturer, designer, or seller of the bus — If the bus had design or manufacturing flaws that caused or contributed to the accident, you may be able to file a product liability claim against anyone in the chain of distribution.
- Other motorists — Did another motorist violate traffic laws, causing or contributing to the accident. There doesn’t necessarily need to be any impact. Did the bus driver have to take evasive action or slam on the brakes, causing injury to passengers on the bus?
- Roadway defects — Was the accident caused by the failure of a municipality to monitor and maintain its roads? If the accident happened on school property, did the school/school district improperly fail to maintain the premises?
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.