As far as auto accidents go, fatal school bus crashes are relatively rare. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there are an average of 135 fatalities annually as a result of school transportation-related crashes. That’s of the approximately 30,000 fatalities that occur annually in all types of crashes. Most of those killed – about 70 percent – were occupants of other vehicles.
Still, there are far too many cases in which school-age children are injured are killed as a result of bus crashes. As we start off the school year, it’s important to take note of some recent cases and highlight some of the safety guidelines that help keep children safe.
Just recently in Escambia County, 22 high school students from Pensacola were on a bus when a dump truck slammed into the side of it, overturning it and resulting in 16 student injuries – many of those serious. According to media reports of the incident, the 33-year-old truck driver ran a red light, colliding with the bus on its rear left side, causing it to overturn and hit a utility pole.
That accident remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, several other bus accident cases nationally have resulted in litigation.
In Idaho, the family of a 7-year-old struck and severely injured by a school bus has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against the school district, city and bus company contracted to provide student busing. That lawsuit alleges the district negligent hired, trained and supervised the 75-year-old driver who failed to see or yield to the child.
According to reports of that case, the accident happened in March as the boy walked to school with his older brother. The driver allegedly struck the child as he was attempting to cross in an unmarked crosswalk. The driver reportedly slowed down for the older boy, but did not see the younger child. As a result, the child suffered a broken thigh and upper arm, pelvic and skull fractures, a ruptured spleen and also a severe traumatic brain injury. Parents of the child alleged the school district failed to test the driver’s eyesight and reflexes, creating a foreseeable risk to the public.
In another case out of Ohio, the mother of a 15-year-old has filed a lawsuit against the city, a bus driver and another motorist. She alleges her son suffered severe injuries while aboard a bus that was rear-ended by another driver. According to the filing, which seeks $75,000 in damages, the 37-year-old bus driver braked abruptly and negligently, causing the bus to stop suddenly. This resulted in a rear-end crash involving a driver who failed to maintain a safe distance, the lawsuit alleges.
Plaintiff’s son was one of two students transported to the hospital as a result of the accident.
Although there is no evidence in any of these cases that the injured students were comparatively negligent for their own injuries, NHTSA reminds parents as we begin another school year to talk with their children about bus safety. That includes:
- Taking three giant steps away from the curb and lining up in a single file away from the street as the bus approaches.
- Waiting until the bus is at a complete stop, with the driver giving the verbal Ok, before stepping onto the bus.
- Walking at least 10 feet (five giant steps) away from the bus when walking in front.
- Never walking behind a bus.
Children who have been injured as a result of a bus accident may have several avenues from which to recover damages. It’s best to consult with an experienced injury lawyer to determine the best legal strategy.
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.
Dump truck slams into school bus full of students in Florida, Sept. 8, 2015, Staff Report, ABC7
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Nightclub Injury of College Student Results in $5 Million Settlement, Sept. 6, 2015, West Palm School Bus Accident Lawyer Blog