What Happens if a School Bus Gets in an Accident?
School bus accidents are not very common, however they sometimes occur. When these kinds of accidents happen the first and most important thing to do is get medical attention for anyone that got hurt. Once the kids or passengers that got hurt have received medical attention, the accident has to be reported to the authorities and the school district. Most of the time the authorities will have to investigate the causes of the collision to determine liability.In some situations, the bus driver may be found responsible for the accident, while in others, the drivers of the other vehicles may be held responsible, and it is also possible that a third party, such as the vehicle’s manufacturer, may be found guilty. Additionally, in school bus accidents, the school authorities and the parents of the kids in the bus have to be notified as soon as possible.
If you or your child have been injured in a school bus accident, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney. Depending on who is liable for the accident, getting compensation for injuries or the injuries suffered by your child can be a difficult task.
What to Do After a School Bus Accident
- As mentioned previously, the first and most important thing to do after a school bus accident is to ensure that all passengers are unharmed. If anyone got injured due to the accident, it is imperative to call an ambulance as soon as possible.
- The second step is to notify the authorities about the accident. The bus driver must report the incident to the authorities and provide all data about the accident, including the location, number of children on board, severity of the accident, and injuries sustained by the passengers.
- Since we are talking about a school bus and not a private vehicle. The bus driver has to report the accident to the different school authorities. The school district, the principal of the school and the superintendent have to be notified and provided with all the details of the incident.
- Gather evidence. Like in any other accident, gathering as much evidence as possible should be one the bus driver’s priorities. The bus driver needs to take photos of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles involved, the location of the vehicles and anything else that could help understand the cause of the accident.
- Exchange information with the other drivers. All drivers must remain at the accident scene and exchange information. Each driver has to provide their driver license number, the insurance policy number, and insurance company name. Once this information has been provided it is important to keep calm and not make any statements to anyone.
- Talk to witnesses. If the accident occurred in a very crowded area it is very likely that there were people who witnessed the accident. The bus driver can talk to them and ask for their names and phone number in case they may need a statement from them in the future.
Leading Causes of School Bus Accidents?
School bus accidents can arise for a number of causes, including the bus driver’s or other drivers’ negligence. In certain cases, the accident is the result of a poorly maintained bus or car. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of school bus accidents.
- Speeding: This is the cause of thousands of accidents every year in the United States. Driving at high speeds can be very dangerous, the driver will have less time to react if anything happens and the injuries can be more severe.
- Driving under the influence: Drivers that have consumed alcohol or other drugs can be extremely dangerous on the road. Driving under the influence slows reaction time, reduces coordination and causes lack of concentration. All these factors can easily lead to a very serious car accident.
- Distractions in the bus: Driving a bus requires a lot of concentration. However, in school buses most of the time the kids will be playing, making noise and creating other distractions. In some cases the bus drivers may fail to focus solely on the road and get distracted by the kids.
- Poorly maintained vehicles: School buses, like any other vehicle, must be serviced on a regular basis. If the bus’s brakes or any other part that is critical to the bus’s proper operation suddenly fail, it can easily lead to an accident with serious injuries.
Who is Liable in a School Bus Accident?
Determining culpability in a school bus accident is equally as difficult as determining blame in any other type of accident. To identify who is to blame for the collision, officials will need to investigate the cause of the collision. If there are cameras at the accident scene, the police will review the recordings to see if there is any footage that can help explain what happened.
When the bus driver was negligent and their actions caused the accident it is possible that they can be held responsible for the crash. If this is the case, it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against this person.
Because the school system owns and operates the majority of buses, even if the bus driver was negligent, the school district can be held liable for the accident. For example, if the bus driver who caused the accident did not have the necessary qualifications to operate a school bus, the school district is liable for failing to hire someone with sufficient expertise. Keep in mind that suing a government organization might be quite difficult. These institutions benefit from sovereign immunity, which shields them from civil litigation. This immunity can be waived but it will depend on the situation. To learn more about this, contact an experienced school bus accident attorney.
In most cases the other drivers are responsible for school bus accidents. If the authorities determined that they were negligent, it would be a fairly easy legal case. In most cases their insurance company will compensate the victims of the accident before even having to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If the bus accident was caused due to the malfunction of the bus, an investigation has to be conducted to determine if the manufacturer failed to identify if a part was defective. These investigations can take a long time and these are usually complex cases.
What Should I Do if My Child is Injured in a School Bus Accident?
If your child was injured in a school bus accident, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Once your kid has received medical care, you will need to keep documentation of the incident. Try to get photos of the accident, copies of the police report, medical bills and anything that can be useful if you need to file a lawsuit. Contacting a lawyer is always a good idea, especially if you plan on filing a lawsuit against the school district.
School Bus Accident Attorney
If you or one of your children sustained injuries due to a school bus accident, do not hesitate in contacting us. Greenberg & Stein P.C. is a prestigious law firm in New York with some of the best lawyers in the state. Our attorneys have handled numerous cases and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Call 212-969-8776 to schedule a free case consultation with one of our lawyers to learn more about your legal options.