It’s estimated that 12,000 students are hurt each year in school bus accidents, particularly those involving another vehicle or when children are coming on and off the bus.
Who’s Held Responsible After a School Bus Wreck?
After a school bus accident, the first question that comes to mind is “Who’s at fault?” Depending on the situation, there are lots of different parties who could be held responsible: the other driver, the school bus driver, a third party company (for example, a construction company doing work in the road which caused the accident), and so on.
There are also a few less common parties who can be held responsible for a school bus wreck. As an injury attorney, I’ve seen cases where the wreck was caused by a defect in the bus design and the school bus manufacturer was held liable. I’ve also seen instances where school districts were liable because they knew about a bus driver’s negligent driving record but hired them anyway.
The takeaway is that every case is different. If your child was hurt in a school bus wreck in Texas, an investigation can determine who’s at-fault.
What Texas Laws Protect Children on School Buses?
As I mentioned, a large portion of school bus accidents happen during bus-on-vehicle collisions and while students are loading on and off the bus at bus stops. For this reason, the Texas Transportation Code has very strict guidelines for driving near a school bus.
Specifically, the law states that when approaching school bus that’s displaying their visual stop signs, drivers must stop as well. Drivers arenm’t allowed to pass a stopped school bus, even if they’re travelling in the other direction. (The once exception to this rule is if there’s a median in the road – in that case, cars travelling in the opposite direction don’t have to stop).
Drivers can proceed once the bus resumes motion, the visual signal to stop is deactivated, or the bus driver signals to the other motorist that they can pass.
If a driver breaks these rules and a child is hurt as a result (say, the driver hits the student while they’re crossing the street), the driver can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and will be held responsible for the child’s injuries and damages.
Additionally, the law prohibits cell phone use within school zones and speeding fines are doubled – laws that are meant to protect children while riding on a school bus as well as entering and exiting one.
If your child was hurt by another driver in a school bus accident and they were breaking one of these laws when the accident happened, you have a strong case against them. You should consult a personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your specific situation.
“Can I Sue the Bus Driver?”
Yes, but it’s not as simple as that. Claims against a school or government have different requirements than claims against other people. Litigation involving school bus accidents is complex because there could be several victims as well as multiple parties liable for the damage. Whenever municipalities or school districts are involved, special issues are bound to pop up.
If your family has been affected by a school bus wreck, I’d advise you to contact a personal injury attorney to go over your options. Evidence must be gathered and your case must be built correctly to avoid mistakes that could ruin your chances for compensation.
The lawyers at the Anderson Injury Lawyers know that no amount of money can undo the damage that has been done to your child after a school bus accident. We know the injuries from these accidents are expensive and could be permanent. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to achieve a full recovery for the injuries your child has suffered.