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Who is Liable in a School Bus Accident?

School Bus Accident Liability
School Bus Accident Liability

Determining liability in a school bus accident can be harder than in other kinds of accidents. Depending on the nature of the accident, the bus driver, the school district, other drivers and even manufacturers can be held liable for the collision. In the United States, over 25 million children are transported in school buses on a daily basis. That implies that millions of parents place their children’s safety in the hands of the educational system. Because of the low number of school bus accidents each year, it is reasonable to say that school buses are the safest means to transport children to and from school. However, school bus accidents can occur, and when they do, it is a terrible experience. Normally, parents’ first worry would be their children’s safety, and then they would start thinking about who is at fault for the accident. 

Parties Who May Be Held Liable in NY School Bus Accidents

Following a school bus accident, authorities must conduct an investigation to identify what caused the accident and who must be held accountable. It is important to mention that, depending on who is at fault, collecting compensation for the accident may be more difficult when pursuing a personal injury claim. If you would like to learn more about your legal options, contact an experienced bus accident lawyer to review your case. These are the most common parties that can be held liable for a school bus accident:

  • The bus driver
  • The school district
  • Other drivers
  • The manufacturer
  • The company responsible for the bus maintenance
  • A third party bus company hired by the school

When Is The School District Held Liable?

There are many reasons why the school district can be held accountable for a school bus accident. The school district needs to make sure that the school buses are in good condition and they need to ensure that the buses are serviced regularly, at least twice a year. If the authorities find out that the school has not been providing the appropriate maintenance for the bus the school district will be held liable for the incident. To guarantee the safety of the students, the school district is also required to follow all safety guidelines. This means that the school must adequately train the staff in charge of the children on the bus. For example, when the bus is moving, the bus attendant must ensure that the kids are not doing anything unsafe or that can distract the bus driver. In some cases the school district will be held liable for a school bus accident, even if the school bus driver was negligent. For example, if a bus driver makes a mistake while driving or makes a wrong decision that results in an accident, the school can be held liable for not hiring people with the necessary qualifications. The school district needs to carefully screen and select only the best applicants and the ones that have the experience necessary to drive a school bus. Keep in mind that if the school system is to blame for an accident, recovering compensation through a personal injury lawsuit may be more difficult. School districts are governmental organizations with sovereign immunity. This means that they are immune to civil litigation in most situations. It is possible to remove this immunity, but it will be difficult. If you want to file a lawsuit against a school district, get in contact with a school bus lawyer to discuss your legal options. 

When Is The School Bus Driver Held Liable?

In most circumstances, even if the school driver was negligent, the school district will be held liable for the driver’s actions. However, in other cases, where the driver’s negligence leads to an accident, the authorities may conclude that the school district has no culpability for the accident. In these cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit against a natural person is a much easier legal process, especially if there is enough evidence to prove that the driver was negligent. 

In Which Scenarios Are Other Parties Responsible?

There are some scenarios where other drivers can be held liable for an accident. For example, if the driver of another vehicle disregards a traffic sign and causes an accident, it is clear that the bus driver or the school district are not responsible for that. Actually, most school bus accidents are not caused by the school bus driver, in fact most of them are caused by drivers of other vehicles who were negligent. 

When a school bus accident is caused by a malfunctioning component of the bus, the manufacturer may be held liable for the accident. Another possibility is that the company that regularly services the bus did not conduct proper maintenance, and the failure of the part could not be prevented. These types of scenarios are usually very complicated and the investigation to determine culpability can take months and even years. 

Some schools hire bus companies that offer the bus transportation services. When an accident occurs with one of these buses, and the driver of the bus was negligent, the company will be held liable for the crash. Since these companies are not a governmental entity, they are not immune from civil litigation. Nonetheless, in cases like this, it is more likely that the bus company’s insurer will cover for all damages related to the accident. 

Common Injuries Caused by School Bus Accidents in New York

Like any other type of accident, school bus collisions can cause injuries to the passengers or pedestrians. These injuries can be minor or they can be severe depending on the nature of the accident. Here are some of the most common injuries sustained by the passengers of the bus in the event of a collision:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

If you or your child has just been involved in a school bus accident, seek medical assistance as soon as possible because some symptoms may not emerge immediately and can later develop into a life-threatening condition.

NY School Bus Accident Lawyer

School bus accidents are rare, but when they happen they can cause tragic mental and financial consequences. As you probably notice, school bus accidents are different to normal car accidents and legally speaking they can be more challenging. If you or your kid has been harmed in a school bus accident and believe you are entitled to compensation, please call us at 212-969-8776. Greenberg & Stein P.C. is a prestigious law firm where you will be able to find some of the best school bus accident lawyers in the state of New York. Our attorneys have successfully handled several cases related to car accidents and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Do not hesitate in contacting us and scheduling a free case consultation with one of our lawyers.