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Legal Blog

School Bus Drivers Need More Oversight

Man Driving a School Bus

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), taking the school bus is the safest way for your kids to get to school. However, while school bus accidents may be rare, they do happen. Within the last two years, two fatal school bus accidents occurred in Chattanooga and Baltimore.

The NTSB recommends that improved driver oversight and school bus design enhancements such as seat belts, electronic stability control, and automatic emergency braking could help avoid accidents.

If your child is injured in a school bus accident, be sure to reach out to a bus accident attorney at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Our attorneys can assist you during this challenging time. For a free and confidential consultation, contact (281) 283-8500 today.

Two Fatal Crashes Show Need to Improve School Bus Safety

In November 2016, two school buses crashed, causing a combined 37 injuries and 12 deaths. Both crashes involved buses that were operated by private contractors working for the local school board. Traditionally, school buses have been operated by schools. But, more and more buses are now managed by contractors, which raises significant oversight questions.

One crash occurred in Chattanooga, Tennessee, because the driver was speeding while using a cell phone. The other accident happened in Baltimore when a driver suffered an epileptic seizure. Epilepsy is a diagnosis that normally would disqualify someone from driving a bus, but in this case, the driver had fraudulently obtained a commercial driver’s license.

According to the NTSB report, the accident in Chattanooga would have been less severe if the bus had been equipped with passenger lap and shoulder seat belts. As for the crash in Baltimore, it could have been avoided altogether if the bus had been equipped with a collision avoidance system or automatic emergency braking that could have taken over once the driver lost consciousness. In both cases, the buses were being driven by people who were either not healthy or responsible enough to be entrusted with the lives of children. A more thorough driver screening process could have saved lives.

Who is Liable When a School Bus Crashes?

When a school bus crashes, the parents of the injured children understandably want compensation. They often find the road to compensation is not an easy one. The issue of liability for school bus crashes can be complicated, and in this sort of case, the assistance of an experienced bus accident attorney is essential.

The law of negligence generally dictates liability in these sorts of cases. Based on the testimony of witnesses, a forensic investigation of the crash site and vehicles, and a thorough review of the police’s accident report, your lawyer will determine who caused the accident. Once the responsible party is identified, the next step is determining whether they negligently caused the crash.

Negligence occurs when a party fails to have the reasonable amount of care dictated by the situation. Some examples of negligence in a school bus crash, include:

  • The school bus driver is texting while driving and veers off the road.
  • The driver of a car runs a red light and hits the school bus.
  • A mechanic fails to maintain the school bus properly, and an accident occurs as a result.

The next step is determining how to obtain compensation from the negligent party. When a private individual causes the accident, they may not have sufficient insurance coverage or personal assets to compensate you. In cases where the school bus driver was responsible, the Texas Tort Claims Act places caps on the amount of damages you can obtain from the school board, which benefits from partial sovereign immunity.

Contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. For Help

For these reasons, you should contact a Houston bus crash attorney from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. right away if you or your child has been injured in a school bus accident. The sooner a legal professional begins work on your case, the better your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free, initial consultation about your situation.