There are over 500,000 school buses that transport children throughout the nation. Accidents are an inevitable fact and the statistics show that there are 20 deaths occurring annually when school buses are involved in an accident. Schools that provide transportation for its students owes a legal duty to take reasonable care in the safety of the children. School bus accident injury liability insurance should be carried by the transportation company. They are liable once the child gets on the bus and while they are riding to school. Children who are injured on their way to the bus stop are not the responsibility of the school or school bus company.
Liability in School Bus Accident
There are approximately 10,000 injuries that occur each year in the U.S. involving children and school buses. Unfortunately, the law still does not require that seat belts be installed on large school buses. When a child becomes injured or is killed in a school bus accident, there may be a number of parties that can be held liable, which include:
- The Bus Driver—The driver and his or her employer can both be held liable for an accident. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that assigns liability for injuries to a person who did not cause the accident, but has a legal relationship with the person. Respondeat Superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer”, is a legal doctrine based upon the employee/employer relationship. This means that the employer can be held responsible for the actions of the employee when they are acting within their scope of duty, i.e. on the job.
- The School District—If the school administration or district is responsible for hiring the bus driver, they may be held indirectly liable under vicarious liability, as well. In addition, if the school was aware of a bus driver’s negligent driving record and still allowed them to drive, they may be facing additional charges.
- The Manufacturer of the Bus—If the investigation determines that the accident was caused due to a defective design, the manufacturer should bear responsibility.
- A Third Party—When police investigate an accident, they interview witnesses, take measurements, and look at skid marks to figure out who initiated the accident. In some cases, a third party may have caused the crash, such as another person or it happened due to poor road maintenance or a faulty traffic signal.
Seeking Guidance From an Attorney
When your child is injured in a school bus accident, it can be an extremely upsetting and a highly emotional time. The investigation may take weeks before a final determination is made as to what caused the crash. Obtaining reports may be difficult for parents and it’s best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to deal with these situations. They can help you obtain answers and sue for damages if necessary