Riding a school bus is considered as the safest way for the children to get to school. The reason for this consideration is that, the school buses are designed in such a protective way that the safety of the children traveling in the school bus is assured. Unlike the other passenger vehicles on the road, the school buses are specially regulated so that the children are safely transported to their destination. But the truth is that school buses also face accidents in one way or the other. Reports say that around four to six children die in school bus accidents every year.
It is very important for you to know the legal options available to you in case your child or the child of your loved one meets with an accident.
The Liability Of The Accident
The school bus accidents are usually complex because there can be numerous parties who are responsible for the accident. It is the negligence on part of the bus driver which usually results in school bus accidents. Even the employer who took the driver as his employee, will also be held liable for the accident, if it is proved that the accident occurred because of the clear negligence of the driver.
In some cases, the bus crash might have happened because of the improper functioning of any part of the vehicle. It may be the faulty brakes or the bad tires which caused the accident. In such circumstances, the blame for the accident cannot be upon the driver of the school bus. It will be the manufacturer of the defective part who will be held liable for the bus crash.
In most cases of school bus crash, there will be some other vehicle involved. Sometimes it might be the mistake on part of the other vehicle driver which caused the accident. If so, he will be the person liable for the accident. This often happens when the other vehicle driver runs a red light and collides with the school bus.
Involvement Of The School District
It is the school district that own and operate most of the school buses. For this reason, the school district can be liable if a school bus accident happened because of the negligence of the school bus driver. But since the school district is a government entity, it is not at all easy to get compensation from the same.
In most of the situations, the government entities can escape the civil liabilities by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity. But this doctrine won’t be applicable in situations where the accident is caused by a government employee like a school bus driver.
The process involved in filing a legal lawsuit against a government entity, is entirely different and complicated. Though it is easy to file a personal injury claim, it is not that easy to file a claim against the government unit that easily. Before filing the lawsuit, the person must give a notice to the attorney general showing that he intends to sue. The attorney general will study the case and review the notice and determine whether or not to apply the sovereign immunity law. The lawsuit cannot be valid if the attorney general decides in favor of the government entity.
The victim of the accident can make a claim against the school district, any time before the end of two years from the day of the accident. If you are planning to make such a lawsuit, make sure that you do it before the deadline. Though the deadline for filing the lawsuit is for two years, you must not forget to inform the government entity about the accident soon after the accident takes place.
In case you had a loss of much money as a result of the accident, it is necessary for you to bring it to the notice of the government entity within 72 hours of the accident. You may not necessarily give the notice to the attorney general within 72 hours, but the accident must be reported within that time so that you will be able to get back the money you have lost as a result of the injuries your child suffered in the accident.
The school district may have to pay both the economic and non-economic damages in some cases. Medical charges and lost wages will come under the economic damages and the pain and suffering under the non economic damages. It must also be understood that the government entities do not pay for the punitive damages.
Involvement Of Other Drivers
If the school bus accident is caused by another driver, then there are no complications in filing the lawsuit. If you and your attorney are able to prove that the concerned driver of the other vehicle is responsible for the crash, you will be eligible to receive the compensation from the insurance company of the driver at fault.
If your child has met with a school bus accident, it will be in your best interests to seek the help of an experienced bus accident attorney to help you in the legal proceedings of the case.