There were over 1,000 school bus accidents in the decade from 2007 – 2016, and typically each year sees just over 100 accidents that involve school buses. However, there is no need to panic as school bus accidents are quite rare in the United States. Nearly half a million school buses carry over 25 million children to schools around the United States every day without any kind of accident. In fact, the school bus is one of the safest forms of transportation, and are designed specifically to be safer than passenger vehicles. However, accidents still happen, and the following will help you determine your next best steps if your child is injured on a school bus.
Seek Medical Attention For Your Child After The Accident
If you learn that your child was involved and injured in a school bus crash, you should first ensure that they are seen by a medical professional. If an ambulance arrives at the scene of the accident, you should allow your child to be assessed immediately for any possible injuries. If no ambulance arrives, you should take your child to the nearest emergency room to be seen by a doctor. Oftentimes, some injuries are not immediately noticeable and can become worse if not treated in a timely manner such as internal organ damage and traumatic brain injuries. If you do not believe that your child needs to be seen in an emergency room, make sure to have them seen by their pediatrician within the next day to ensure that there are no serious injuries that have gone unnoticed.
Create a Document and Evidence File Documenting the Accident and all Interactions After
From the moment your child is involved in a school bus accident, make sure to keep all documentation and evidence regarding the accident together in one place. The name of the bus driver, bus company, witness contact information, school contact information, medical bills, diagnostic tests, or medical procedures should all be kept together. Additionally, if your child is suffering from any physical or emotional trauma following the accident, make sure to keep a diary regarding their pain and suffering which can be used later if you decide to pursue a claim.
Determining Liability for Injuries Sustained after a Bus Accident
The next step after ensuring that your child has received proper medical attention is to determine who is liable for the school bus accident. There are many options for school bus accidents that differ from passenger vehicle accidents regarding the determination of liability.
- Bus Driver. If the school bus was in an accident, and it was determined to be the fault of the bus driver, there is a chance you may be able to file a claim directly against the bus driver. Additionally, if there was an accident on the school bus between children that did not involve an actual car accident, the bus driver may be responsible for not maintaining order and control on the bus and allowing a child to be injured by another child.
- School District. In most cases, a school district will be in charge of the operation of its school buses and even own the school buses themselves. In these cases, the school district would be liable and held responsible for any injuries related to a school bus accident. It is important to note that school districts are government entities and therefore, very specific rules apply to how to file a claim against a government entity. In some cases the doctrine of sovereign immunity will protect a government entity against civil lawsuits, however, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a claim directly against the school district if your child was injured in a school bus accident.
- School Bus Company. In other cases, the school district does not own the school buses but rather hires an independent and private company to provide the services of transportation of their students. In these cases, you may be able to sue the school bus company directly, and you may still be able to sue the school district for choosing a negligent company to transport students. The determination on who you may file a claim against in these cases is fact-specific and will rest on how the entities were established and who has ultimate authority with respect to the school buses.
- Other Drivers. In some instances, the bus driver was not negligent at all, and the school bus accident was entirely the fault of another driver, typically in a passenger vehicle. This circumstance would require you to file a claim against the other driver to receive compensation for your child’s injuries.
- Rare cases show that a manufacturing defect in a part or component of a school bus was the cause of a school bus accident. These cases fall under product liability law, and require a different set of legal standards and apply a different set of laws entirely than typical personal injury law related to a car accident. In many cases, expert witnesses are needed to prove that it was the manufacturing defect that was the cause of the school bus accident.
Contact a School Bus Accident Attorney Serving Orange County California
Your most important course of action after seeking medical attention for your child following a school bus accident is to contact an experienced school bus accident attorney. If your child was injured in a school bus accident, you likely feel afraid and overwhelmed. You should know that most children will never be involved, or receive any injuries related to a school bus accident. However, as a parent, if you face this horrific situation involving your child suffering injuries on a school bus, making the determination regarding liability and who is responsible can become a complex and challenging legal process. Contact Silverthorne Attorneys today to visit with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers who can offer you a complimentary consultation of your case, and help you with your next steps. Call us at (949) 234-6034 today.