A school bus accident could involve different scenarios, and each could be handled differently:
- A vehicle collides with a school bus, van or other vehicle used for the purpose of transporting youths or dependent adults to school.
- A bicyclist or pedestrian is hit by such a vehicle.
- A student is injured on a school bus or van due to the movement of the vehicle.
If you are injured in one of these situations, what do you do?
Vehicle Collision with a School Bus
If you are injured in a vehicle collision with a school bus, the most important factor that will impact your claim is who was at fault and whether any comparative negligence may apply.
Of course, if you were entirely at fault, you do not have a claim.
If the bus driver was at fault for the accident, you may be owed compensation. But if you were in violation of any vehicle codes at the time, your damages could be reduced by the percentage of your comparative negligence.
For example, were you passing the bus when it was stopped to load or unload children, and hit when the bus pulled away from the curb? If so, you were in violation of the vehicle code. In every state, vehicles traveling in both directions – behind the bus, or driving toward it on the other side – must come to a full stop, and remain stopped, until the bus proceeds. (State laws vary regarding passing a bus a divided road.)
Were you in a school zone at the time? If so, were you traveling at 25 miles per hour or less? If not, you were in violation of the vehicle code. Depending on your state and district, the speed limit could be even lower.
Another factor is whether the bus was transporting students to a private school or a public school – see below.
Bicyclist, Pedestrian or Passenger Injuries in a School Bus Accident
If you were a pedestrian or bicyclist injured in a school bus accident or a passenger/parent of a passenger injured in a school bus due to the driver’s negligence, you may have a very good chance of being compensated for your injuries. However, the liable parties may depend on whether the bus is traveling to a public school or private school.
If the bus was traveling to a private school, you may be able to sue the school, the bus company, and the driver.
If the bus was traveling to a public school, you may be able to file a claim against the bus company and the driver. You may also be able to file a claim against the school district, but it would need to be handled differently. Claims against government entities must be filed within a very strict statute of limitations and with the correct agency.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road. But accidents still happen.
School bus accidents can be complex. If you’ve been injured by a school bus, you may need help sorting out the issues. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at TorkLaw for a free consultation.