It’s every parent’s nightmare to have their child injured on the school bus. Although school buses are backed by decades of safety research, accidents still happen.
After a school bus accident, parents wonder what they can do to hold the right people responsible. Questions arise like, “Is it the school’s fault? What about the bus driver?”
Below, we’ll cover the basics of school bus accidents from the perspective of a personal injury lawyer. Keep these things in mind if your child is ever exposed to the injury and trauma of a bus accident.
Why School Bus Accidents Happen
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls school buses the safest vehicles on the road. In fact, NHTSA research shows a child is 70 times safer riding the bus to school than riding in a car with a parent.
So why do school bus accidents still happen? Most are due to other motorists, not school bus drivers. It’s rare for a public or private school bus driver to cause an accident where a child is injured.
In fact, most of the school bus accidents we hear about on the news don’t happen on buses at all and are actually pedestrian accidents. All too often, children are hit crossing the road to reach their school bus.
If we focus on accidents that happen on the school buses themselves, many are caused by other motorists hitting school buses. Common causes of school bus accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring traffic laws like school zones
- Speeding and reckless/aggressive driving
- Bad weather and poor road conditions
- Bus manufacturing and maintenance issues
Liability in a California School Bus Accident
When it’s time to assign liability for a school bus accident, the parents of injured children are sometimes surprised to learn the school isn’t being held 100% responsible. Isn’t it the school’s responsibility to get the kids to school safely?
Yes, but perhaps another party played a role. Below are the various people and organizations that could be liable for a school bus accident.
It’s quite common for another motorist on the road, not the school bus driver, to be held responsible for a bus accident. They may have been distracted by their phone, speeding through a school zone, or even drunk or high at the time of the accident.
While it might seem straightforward to hold a negligent driver responsible, things get more complicated in a school bus accident. Another driver may try to point the finger at the school district as a way of avoiding the blame, so you’ll need a good traffic accident lawyer’s help.
The School District
California requires schools to take preventive measures to ensure school buses are safe for students. However, schools are sometimes negligent and fail to do proper driver background checks or adequately train bus drivers.
The school district might also be held responsible for failing to maintain the school bus and do routine repairs. Of course, it’s difficult to obtain these maintenance records as the proof you’ll need to support your case. Your lawyer can help you accomplish this.
An Outside Driver Agency
In some districts, an outside firm has been hired to handle busing. This means the bus drivers might be employees or contractors of a private company, which could be held responsible for an accident.
The Bus Maintenance Company
It’s important to ask which organization is responsible for providing proper bus maintenance. Does the school district use an outside company or do they handle repairs through an in-house service station?
Who is in charge of doing regular inspections? Did the bus fail any inspections? Were its tires, brakes, and other features in top working order? If not, this could be evidence of negligence.
School Bus Manufacturer
Maybe the school bus was never safe enough to be on the road. It may have had faulty brakes, steering, or wiring that contributed to the accident. Your lawyer can help you dig deeper to find the details of these manufacturing issues.
What if there were no School Zone signs? What if the roadway was crumbling and dangerous? These issues can be the fault of a local municipality or government agency. These cases often have shorter timeframes for bringing personal injury cases, so contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
As you can see, there are numerous avenues for pursuing compensation after a school bus accident. Your lawyer at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers will help you identify the responsible party or parties, then put the blame where it belongs so you and your child can move forward from the accident.
We Handle Your Pedestrian Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After your accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including school bus accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. We truly care about the people of California. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.