School bus accidents are rare. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the fatality rate for school buses is .2 per 100 million miles traveled. In contrast, the rate for cars is 1.5 fatalities per 100 million.
And while those statistics are great and can show that riding a bus is safe, if your child has been one of the few individuals harmed on a school bus, those statistics do nothing to help you deal with those injuries.
If your child has been injured on a school bus, you should take immediate action to protect their rights and avoid serious financial penalties.
Who Is Liable for Your Child’s School Bus Injuries?
This can be a challenging question to answer because a variety of parties could be liable for a school bus accident. These parties can include:
- The driver
- The school district
- The bus maintenance company
- Another driver who collided with the school bus
School districts and public education systems operate most school buses, even for private schools. That means that you’ll be dealing with sovereign immunity laws designed to protect your local municipality. When dealing with municipalities, you’ll need to follow reporting procedures to protect your legal rights.
You’ll need to report the accident to the school district or municipality that operates your child’s school bus as soon as possible. This alerts them to the child’s injuries within the given timeframe to protect your right to sue.
Accidents, where other drivers are at fault, are far simpler to work through and will mirror the personal injury process if your child had been hurt while in the car with you and the other driver was at fault.
Common Causes of School Bus Accidents
Although school bus accidents happen rarely, here are some of the most common causes of these accidents:
- Driver error: the driver fails to operate the bus as he or she should.
- Weather: operating a bus gets even harder during unfavorable weather, such as rain, snow, or wind. Losing control of the bus becomes more common during these weather conditions.
- Blind spots: given the size of buses, they have larger blind spots than cars do. Bus drivers need to be extra aware of those blind spots and allow more time to change lanes or turn than a regular vehicle would.
- Turning left: again, because buses are so large, it can take a while for them to complete a left turn. Cars should be extra cautious when a bus is turning in front of them.
- Poor care and maintenance or driver screening: bus companies and school districts have a responsibility to maintain their buses carefully and put employees through a stringent hiring screening. Ensuring that drivers have adequate training and experience is an important part of preventing school bus accidents.
Damages You Can Pursue After a School Bus Accident
Dealing with an injured child after a school bus accident is challenging. You’ll have to miss work to take them to medical appointments and care for them. And sadly, some children will never be the same again.
When pursuing a school bus accident claim, you can seek the following damages as part of your lawsuit:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income for parents caring for their children
- Pain and suffering the child experiences
- Loss of the child’s enjoyment of life
- Disability or disfigurement
- Wrongful death in the case of your child’s passing due to their school bus accident injuries
If your child has suffered injuries due to a school bus accident, contact Stewart & Stewart’s trusted team of attorneys. Our team of caring attorneys will work with you to make things right.