The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that school buses are 70x more likely to get children safely to school than cars. Despite this fact, thousands of children get hurt in school bus accidents each year. If your child was injured in a school bus accident, you might be able to bring litigation against one or more parties, including:
The school district or private entity that owns the bus
The bus driver
The manufacturer of the parts on the bus
The driver who hit the school bus, thus leading to the accident (if applicable)
Unfortunately, gaining compensation after a school bus accident is often quite difficult. Here is what you should do in order to bring a case against the responsible party:
Suing the School District
A lawsuit brought against the school district is the least likely to be successful. Public school districts are government agencies, and it is very hard to bring or win a case against a government agency.
However, this does not mean that you are completely out of luck if you believe that the school district is responsible for your child getting hurt in a school bus accident. South Carolina holds school districts responsible for a number of duties related to the transportation of your children on a school bus, as defined by the South Carolina Code of State Regulations, Chapter 43. It may be possible to prove willful or negligent disregard for your child’s safety if the school district
failed to perform a background check on the bus driver;
did not make sure that the school bus driver had the proper certification to operate a school bus;
forced the driver to transport too many children;
failed to perform annual inspections of the school bus; or
failed to make sure that the driver’s route was safe for travel.
Unfortunately, proving one or more of these things can be difficult. It takes a skilled personal injury attorney to make sure that school districts are held responsible for their negligence or willful disregard for your child’s safety.
Privately Owned Buses
If the school bus is privately owned – such as by a contracted agency or a private school – it may be easier to prosecute the responsible entity for one of the above acts of negligent or willful disregard for safety.
Bringing Litigation against the School Bus Driver
It is often easier to sue a government employee than it is to sue a government agency. A school bus driver is also responsible for the safety of your children when they are boarding or seated on the school bus. You may be able to receive compensation for your child’s injuries if the bus driver
was drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident;
lost their certification due to a prior DUI;
did not have the proper licensing for driving a bus; or
began driving before your child was properly seated on the bus.
These are just a few of the cases in which the bus driver may be found liable for the accident.
Suing the School Bus Manufacturer
Sometimes, the driver and district are not at fault or are only partially at fault for the accident. If the bus had faulty parts which caused the accident, the manufacturer of those parts may be found responsible for the school bus accident. Of course, if these problems should have been found during annual inspections, the school district may also be found to be partially at fault.
When Another Driver Causes the Crash
In some cases, the accident may be caused by another driver. Car accidents are all too common, and sometimes a negligent or aggressive driver will end up hitting a school bus. In these cases, the driver that caused the crash will usually be the one held liable for the school bus accident.
If your child was hurt or killed in a school bus accident, contact the law offices of Branch & Dhillon, P.C. immediately. You often have a limited amount of time to bring litigation against a government agency or employee, so it is important that you act fast. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.