School Bus Accident Litigation

When parents put their children on the school bus each morning, they do so with the understanding that the driver is carrying precious cargo. Bus drivers have an obligation to drive as safely as possible. When they fail to live up to these standards, they can be held legally responsible for the resulting injuries and damages. It's not just the drivers who are liable, though. Depending on the circumstances, the school district, school bus company, and the bus manufacturer can all be held legally responsible for accidents.

If you or your loved one was injured in a school bus accident, know that you have options. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent countless years advising families on personal injury cases against schools. He can work with you to ensure you get the justice you deserve after a bus crash.

Common Causes of School Bus Accidents

While school buses are relatively safe vehicles, they're not immune to traffic accidents. Just like with any other motor vehicle on the road, they can become dangerous when operated negligently. Driver distraction is often a factor. As smartphones have become ubiquitous, more and more school bus drivers find themselves giving in to the urge to check in behind the wheel. Even the most practiced, careful drivers can find themselves distracted when their phone is within reach.

Driver fatigue is another common cause of school bus crashes. When employees work long hours without breaks, their ability to perform is jeopardized. While school bus drivers tend not to work as long as other kinds of professional drivers, they often start their days quite early. Without enough rest, drivers may experience slower reaction times. Given how challenging it can be to drive a school bus, drivers must be at their best before climbing behind the wheel.

Overloaded buses also contribute to school bus accidents. Over the last few years, school bus driver shortages have plagued the nation. When not enough drivers are available, school districts often opt to double up routes and put more children on board each bus than recommended. This can make the driver's job even more challenging. With more students on board, there are more chances for the driver to become distracted. There's also a greater risk of injury when an accident occurs, as the seats are typically only designed for two passengers each.

Other causes of school bus accidents may include driver error, speeding, insufficient training, drunk driving, and maintenance issues.

Injuries Associated with School Bus Accidents

When a bus crash occurs, students may suffer serious injuries. In some cases, passengers may even be killed in the collision. With injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic, it's important to seek medical attention immediately following such an incident. Even if your child doesn't seem hurt, a doctor should still perform an exam to verify that there are no injuries lurking just below the surface. Many of the most common bus accident injuries take a few days to show symptoms, so it's a good idea to be proactive.

Broken bones, brain injuries, spinal injuries, and internal injuries are all common among bus accident victims. These are just some of the many potential injuries at stake in such collisions. Bus passenger injury risks are greater than in other kinds of vehicles, since most buses don't feature seat belts or any kind of restraint in a crash scenario. Because school buses are oversized, they're more challenging to maneuver than the average car or truck. This makes it more difficult for bus drivers to avoid potential collisions.

Depending on the severity of the bus crash, passengers may need significant medical attention. Accident victims and their families are often entitled to compensation for the expenses related to treatment. They may also be compensated for their pain, suffering, medical bills, and other associated damages.

Compensation for School Bus Accident Victims

Following a bus accident, many families are curious about their legal right to compensation. The specifics of the crash dictate the compensation victims are eligible to receive. The kinds of injuries sustained and how permanent they are all factor into the equation. Two people with the same injury may be awarded different amounts. That's why it's so important to consult with a bus accident attorney before determining how to proceed.

Without knowing the specific details of the collision, it's impossible to say exactly how much a bus accident victim can receive. It's possible they're eligible for both economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Medical bills: Compensation is often available to cover the cost of medical exams, surgeries, ambulance rides, prescription medications, as well as ongoing care like physical therapy. Should a passenger sustain lifelong injuries in a bus crash, their future medical costs can also be included in a settlement.
  • Lost wages: If an accident victim can no longer work because of the injuries they sustained in the crash, they may recover the compensation they would have earned had the incident not occurred.
  • Property damage: If a passenger's property is damaged in the collision, they may be eligible for compensation.
  • Pain and suffering: This is a kind of non-economic damage. While it's hard to imagine assigning a dollar figure to the pain and suffering of an accident victim, a settlement can help ease the long-term impact such a collision has on a person's psyche.
  • Lost enjoyment of life: When a person suffers a catastrophic injury, they may no longer be able to enjoy the same hobbies and leisure time as they once did. Accident victims can factor this into their settlement, too.
  • Permanent disability: In some serious bus accidents, victims may sustain permanent disabilities. A lawsuit can help families recover the costs associated with caring for a disabled person.
  • Disfigurement: When an accident leaves a person with permanent scarring, burns, or other disfiguring injuries, the victim can sue for compensation.

These are just some of the damages that bus accident victims can pursue following a crash. Any serious loss stemming from the accident can be included in the final settlement amount. To understand how much your claim is worth, seek the guidance of a skilled bus accident attorney.

Determining School Bus Crash Liability

Bus accidents can occur for a number of different reasons. The resulting lawsuits tend to be more complex than other kinds of car accident cases. That's because bus drivers aren't merely traveling from point A to point B. They're being paid to transport students. As a result, determining liability can be a real challenge. If you or your child were injured in a bus accident, it's important to determine the exact cause of the collision. This information can help you determine the at-fault party.

Let's say your child was injured in a school bus crash caused by a distracted bus driver. The driver is likely an employee of the local school district. Therefore, the district or individual employee may be liable for the resulting damages. If the crash occurred because the bus's brakes failed, the bus company may be at fault. Regardless of which party is responsible, determining liability is made much easier with the help of a knowledgeable bus accident attorney. This is especially important when there are multiple at-fault parties involved.

What to Do After a School Bus Crash

If you or your loved one has been involved in a school bus crash, it's important to take swift action. Seek medical attention immediately to identify possible injuries and document them accordingly. If you arrive on the scene before the crash has been cleared, you may also want to take photos and video on your cell phone for further documentation. Ask your child about their experience and write it down – every detail counts, even the things you don't think matter. Detailed records can make all the difference when pursuing legal action.

You may also want to check if there were any witnesses to the crash. Pedestrians, other motorists, and other passengers