Can Schools Be Sued for Bus Accidents?

Parents rely on school buses to transport their children safely to and from school. Sadly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2007 and 2016, there were about 128 school transportation-related fatalities. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that school bus crashes killed 54 people nationwide despite the fact the schools were closed for most of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

 If your loved one has been injured or if you have lost someone in a school bus accident, you may potentially be able to sue a number of parties for your losses. Our Los Angeles bus accident attorneys can help evaluate your case and help protect your rights every step of the way.

You Can Sue Multiple Parties for a School Bus Accident

There are a number of common causes of bus accidents that can be caused by the negligence of another. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident in California, you may be able to file a lawsuit against multiple parties. It can be a challenging process to determine who was involved or who is liable for your accident. This is why it is important to get a lawyer involved early on in the process to help determine who was responsible for the school bus accident before you proceed with your lawsuit. Below are just some of the parties that you may be able to sue after a school bus accident.

Can Schools Be Sued for Bus Accidents?

Bus Driver

The school bus driver has a duty of care to his or her passengers, the students. This means that the bus driver has a legal responsibility and obligation to transport students to and from school. If negligence or wrongdoing on part of the driver caused or contributed to the accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the bus driver for the injuries and damages sustained.

School District

If negligence on the part of the school district contributed to the accident, you may be able to file a claim against them. For example, all school buses in California are required to have three-point seatbelts if they were purchased after July 2004 or July 2005, depending on the size and design of the bus. However, if the school district failed to follow this law or other California school bus laws and those failures result crashes, injuries or fatalities, they can be held financially responsible.

Bus Manufacturer

Vehicle defects can have devastating consequences. Manufacturers of all vehicles including school buses have a responsibility to make vehicles free of hazardous defects. However, when they discover an unsafe vehicle or vehicle part, they are required to issue a safety recall and repair the affected vehicles, under federal law. If the school bus accident was due to a vehicle defect or faulty vehicle part, the bus manufacturer or the manufacturer of the defective part can be held responsible for the injuries, damages and losses.

School Bus Company

Often times, school districts contract with bus companies to operate a fleet of vehicles to transport students. The company that owns and operates school buses has a duty to maintain these buses and make sure they are in good working order. If their failure to maintain the buses results in an accident that causes injuries, the bus company can be held liable. Common maintenance issues that result in school bus crashes include failed brakes and tire blowouts.

Financial Compensation for Damages 

The statute of limitations or time limit to file a bus accident claim in California is two years from the date of the accident and injury. Because school bus accident claims are typically filed against a government entity, you would only have six months from the date of your injury to file your claim. However, if the accident victim was a minor at the time of the crash, these time limits don’t start until they turn 18.

Victims of school bus accidents can seek compensation for damages in a school bus accident claim including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Permanent injuries
  • Disabilities or disfigurement
  • Loss of life’s enjoyment
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
Families that have lost loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love, care and companionship. In addition to these damages, an experienced school bus accident lawyer can also help victims and families figure out if they may be able to receive punitive damages. These are damages other than compensatory damages that are awarded to penalize the defendants for egregious negligence or wrongdoing.

Refusing the First Settlement Offer

In a school bus accident claim it is important not to rush into a settlement or take the first offer made by insurance companies. That is because insurance companies often attempt to lowball victims and families hoping that you would take that offer in order to move on with your life. Please remember that if you rush into a settlement, you may not be able to recover any further compensation. Your case will be considered closed. You may not then be able to seek and obtain the compensation your rightfully deserve. Do not accept any settlement unless you have properly discussed it with your lawyer.

Filing A School Bus Accident Claim

It is important you take the right steps after a school bus accident to protect the value of your claim. Seek and obtain prompt medical attention, treatment and care. Be sure to gather as much evidence as possible from the scene including photos, videos, eyewitness statements, etc. Talk to an experienced Los Angeles school bus accident lawyer to begin filing your accident claim.

The experienced California school bus accident lawyers at the Vaziri Law Group have a long and successful track record of helping those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. We can help you secure maximum possible compensation for your losses. Call us to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.

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