Tragedy struck recently on a highway in South Georgia when a tractor-trailer struck a school bus carrying 30 students, killing one and injuring 13 others.
Authorities reported a 15-year-old girl was killed in the collision, which occurred in the southbound lanes of I-75. The crash occurred on a Monday afternoon. Investigators with the state highway patrol were still trying to ascertain the cause, though they did say charges are pending.
What they have been able to piece together thus far is that the tractor-trailer struck the rear of the school bus, which had just picked up students from a local high school and was transporting them to their homes. The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 58-year-old man from Illinois, was not injured. The driver of the bus, a 62-year-old local woman, suffered a leg injury and was taken to a local hospital in a private vehicle.
An ambulance that arrived on scene transported more than a dozen injured children to a local hospital. Another six were taken to a nearby emergency room for medical care in private vehicles, presumably by their parents.
The teen who died was pronounced dead at the hospital after she was transported there by ambulance. Although a helicopter had arrived to get her there faster, she could not be stabilized enough for the flight.
Students told news crews the crash was “terrifying,” and that the tractor-trailer slammed into the rear of the packed bus. Soon everyone was screaming and crying and diving onto the floor. Parents rushed to the scene after receiving calls from their children on their cell phones.
It could be weeks before the investigation is completed.
Our Fort Myers bus accident lawyers know that school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles both in crash avoidance and injury prevention. Clearly as this case shows, that does not mean they are immune from accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school transportation related crashes (which involved either a school bus body vehicle or a non-school bus functioning as one) are less common than passenger vehicle crashes. Between 2005 and 2014, there were nearly 332,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. Of those, nearly 2,000 were school transportation related. That’s about 0.4 percent.
During this time, there were a total of 1,332 people killed in these accidents, which works out to approximately 133 annually. Those who were actually on the school bus accounted for 8 percent of these fatalities. The rest were non-occupants, such as bicyclists, pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles.
Of those pedestrians who died, 111 were under 18.
Among the school-age child occupants killed in school bus crashes, more than twice as many (130) died in other vehicles as compared to those traveling in school transportation vehicles (53 percent).
Asserting damages in a case like this may be challenging for several reasons. The first is that there may be a significant number of plaintiffs all asserting liability on a single policy (if the truck driver is found at-fault). As with any accident that involves a truck driver, there could be numerous parties that may be directly and vicariously liable, including the employer of the driver, the owner of the tractor and the owner of the trailer. If those policies are insufficient to cover the full extent of damages, students may be able to receive compensation based on their parents’ underinsured motorist policies, though that will depend on the individual language on each policy. If the bus driver is deemed in any way liable, parents may want to explore legal action against the school district, which will mean overcoming an assertion of governmental immunity, among other defenses.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Student killed in South Georgia school bus crash on I-75, Aug. 30, 2016, By Lauren Foreman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
More Blog Entries:
Page v. Moses Taylor Hospital – Twins’ Death Medical Malpractice Settlement for $4.25M Not Sealed, Aug. 26, 2016, Fort Myers Bus Accident Lawyer Blog