Wednesday, September 23, 2015

School Bus Crashes: Dealing with the nightmare

We have all seen it.  A school bus driver turns on the blinkers and engages the stop sign, yet a vehicle speeds by the driver either not knowing, or caring, about the danger he or she has created.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there were 1,214 fatal crashes involving school transportation vehicles from 2004 to 2013, averaging 134 fatalities each year.

How can we keep our children safe on school buses and what should we do if our child is injured in a bus accident? 

School Bus Safety

School buses are designed and manufactured to have safety features that passenger vehicles do not.  However, whether it is negligent training of or operation by the bus operators or the negligence of the other drivers on the road, accidents can and do happen.    

Educating your child is the first step to increasing safety on his or her way to and from school.  The following tips can help:

  • Educating your children to be aware of things around them: Be attentive and prepared to get on and off the bus and keep distractions such as playing with electronic devices, wearing headphones and horseplay to a minimum.
  • Keeping an eye on your children if possible: If you have spare time in the mornings and afternoons, consider checking on the bus stop and help keep it clear of hazards.
  • Speaking to your children about following the bus rules and safety procedures: Your children should know how to respond to unsafe situations at the bus stop and on the bus itself.
  • Immediately reporting unsafe or unfit drivers or equipment to school administration or law enforcement:  Should you witness, or receive information from your child, that a bus driver is speeding or not following other rules of the road or if you suspect the driver is operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol you should report such immediately to the school district or law enforcement, and, if necessary, not allow your children and other children onto the bus.  
  • School Bus Injuries and Legal Cases
  • Despite you and your children taking reasonable safety measures, oftentimes, situations that you and your children cannot control lead to accidents and resulting bodily injury.    
  • Smith Horras, P.A. and its attorneys can help you determine if a pursuing a civil lawsuit is prudent by looking at the following:

Liability: It must be determined who breached the duty to not injure your child.  In Idaho it could be one or multiple parties including the other drivers involved, the bus driver, the school district, the bus manufacturer and others.  In Idaho It will be important to file a notice of tort claim within 180-days of the accident with the school district or your child may not be able to recover for his or her injury.
Damages:  Your child must suffer some type of injury as a result of the accident.  Typically a bodily injury must occur that requires medical treatment to recover other damages including, but not limited to, medical bills, pain and suffering, out of pocket expenses and wage loss if your child is old enough to be working and currently has a job.   

Smith Horras, P.A. can offer a free initial consultation to help you make an informed decision about pursuing a case for your child.