Approximately 25 million elementary and secondary school children ride buses to and from school each day. Fortunately, school bus accidents are extremely rare, and as Safe Kids Worldwide claims:
“School buses are the safest way to get children to and from school.”
Children are especially vulnerable to accidents at the bus stop, before getting on the school bus, or after getting off.
Who Is Liable?
If your child gets hurt by a school bus or while onboard the vehicle, the school or school district may be liable for the accident and your child’s injuries. If another vehicle harms your child while they are at the bus stop, the driver of that vehicle may be responsible for the accident and any resulting injuries. As in other personal injury cases, liability comes down to negligence. If the bus driver behaves negligently, the driver and their employer may be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur as a result.
Private vs. Public Schools
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road, and they are designed with safety in mind. Most school buses are operated by school districts or public education systems run by municipal or state governments. Because these entities are protected by sovereign immunity, you must follow strict administrative procedures in order to make a claim. In most places, you must file a notice of claim before you can file a lawsuit. If you don’t file a notice of claim in time, you could lose your right to legal action entirely. In most places, this deadline is much more pressing than the statute of limitations – usually a matter of months instead of years. In New York, for instance, you have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim and 3 years from the date of the accident to file a standard personal injury claim.
For private school bus accidents, caused by a school’s employee (the driver), you will file a claim against the driver and the private company, similar to any other commercial vehicle accident. You can sue the school directly or file a third-party claim against the school’s insurance company.
If your child gets hurt in a school bus accident, you need to act as soon as possible. As we discussed above, you may only have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim against the school district.
Remember, 15-passenger vans and less traditional forms of student transportation can also count as school buses, and anytime your accident involves a school district, you will need to act quickly to protect your family’s legal rights.
At Foley Griffin, LLP, we offer free consultations for the families of injured children. We have over 75 years of legal experience and have been serving our community for 25 years.
During this time, we have seen a few school bus accidents, and we are here to help.
Call us at (888) 966-8480 or contact us online to start securing your future today.