Kids getting back to school in the fall means more vehicles on the road, including school buses. Drivers may forget about school zones and the enforcement of reduced speed limits. Combine these two things and you have a recipe for a collision.
Although rare, school bus accidents do occur, and parents of an injured child should know about their legal options. Our South Bend auto accident lawyers are prepared to discuss your claim during a free consultation if your child is injured in a school bus accident.
Below, we discuss who may be liable for your damages and what options may be available when pursuing compensation.
Who May Be Liable for a School Bus Accident?
If your child was injured, there may be one or more parties liable for a school bus accident.
If the school bus driver is found to be at fault for the crash, the party responsible for the driver’s actions should be financially liable for your child’s damages.
The school district may also be liable for damages if a school crossing guard erred while directing traffic and your child was injured in a school bus accident. Either while riding the bus or walking.
However, the rules for filing a claim against a government entity may differ from a regular injury claim due to sovereign immunity laws.
There are instances when the collision involves a private school bus. In this case, you may be able to pursue compensation from the owner of the bus. Sometimes the owner and driver are one and the same. Even private buses are required by state law to carry liability insurance, as these are considered commercial vehicles. If your child is injured in a private school bus accident, you may be able to file a claim with the commercial liability insurance that covers the bus.
Accidents involving a school bus where another driver is at fault are generally more in line with the typical personal injury process. However, the insurance policy may not cover all damages since there will likely be more than one injured child. The insurance company will probably fight back harder to not have to pay out any claims. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to work with an attorney.
In some very rare instances, the company responsible for the maintenance of the bus could be liable if the cause of the collision was a mechanical issue. For example, if a crash was caused by brake failure.
What Makes School Bus Accidents Dangerous for Kids?
School buses are generally regarded as safe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, it is important to remember that school buses do not have seatbelts onboard. The NHTSA’s reasoning for not requiring seatbelts on buses is that these vehicles are built differently. They are designed to distribute crash forces differently than passenger vehicles. School buses also use a concept called “compartmentalization” where seats are spaced closely together. Seatbacks are also made from energy-absorbing material to help minimize damage. Despite the design of school buses, there is always a possibility for injury.
If your child is hit by a school bus while walking, the damage could be very serious. These vehicles are much larger than passenger vehicles and due to their design, they may be more lethal.
When schools were shut down during the pandemic, many bus drivers needed to find alternative employment. Some school districts are still struggling to fill those now-empty positions. With fewer available drivers, more buses are crammed with children. This makes driving conditions difficult for drivers. As the demand grows for bus drivers, school districts may be cutting corners to get more drivers behind the wheel. This could result in crammed buses with inexperienced and poorly trained drivers.
Can I Recover Compensation on Behalf of My Child?
In Indiana, parents and legal guardians may file an accident claim on behalf of their minor children. However, there is a unique process for recovering compensation.
While the parent may be able to recover some economic damages for medical bills, non-economic damages may be paid to the child. These funds may not be available to the child until he or she is 18 years old.
If your child was injured in a bus accident, it may be in your best interest to work with an attorney who understands the process.
Call an Experienced Attorney
At Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, our attorneys have decades of experience helping injury victims. We have also successfully recovered millions on behalf of our clients.
We offer a free and confidential legal consultation. There are also no fees while we work on your claim.
Call (844) 678-1800 today.