School Bus Accidents

Every single day, school buses nationally transport 25 million children to and from classes. Many schools participate in safety programs, intensive driver training and other initiatives that help increase passenger safety, accidents do still unfortunately happen.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale school bus accident lawyers recognize injuries in these cases are often serious, owing largely to a lack of on-board safety features like seat belts.

In some cases, children who are injured aboard a bus as a result of an accident may be entitled to financial compensation for damages suffered. Many of these claims involve private bus contractors that have been approved by Broward County Public Schools to provide student transportation for regular routes, field trips and other activity trips. (As of 2015, there were eight private contractors providing busing services to the school system).

However, some school bus injury claims may also involve the government. This would arise in cases where buses are owned or operated by the school district or when drivers are school district employees. It’s important to recognize that claims against government entities (and public school districts are an extension of government) are subject to tighter timelines, damage caps and other specific requirements.

In addition, there may be third-party liability claims that take place simultaneously. To maximize recovery, it’s imperative that all potential defendants be identified early on and detailed claims are filed appropriately and timely.

The stakes are high. Although children are known for resilience, injuries sustained in a serious school bus accident can have lifetime consequences. That’s why these cases necessitate a Fort Lauderdale injury attorney with experience.

School Bus Accident Statistics

Our society as a whole places a high priority on child safety, and that is apparent in the many initiatives taken to reduce school bus crashes and injuries.

Among these:

  • Minimum crush and height standards
  • Flashing red lights
  • Cross-view mirrors
  • Reinforced sides
  • Bright color
  • Stop sign arms

There are also requirements to ensure drivers are well-trained, including mandates for:

  • Training in student behavior management
  • Participation in pre-employment and random alcohol and drug testing
  • Frequent driving record checks
  • Training in loading and unloading
  • Security training
  • Emergency medical procedures training

There are also frequently now cameras placed on buses, to serve as concrete evidence in the event of a crash or other incident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that of the 340,000 motor vehicle crashes tallied from 2004 to 2013, just .4 percent – or 1,214 – were classified as school transportation related, meaning they involved a school bus or a vehicle functioning as a school bus that was transporting children to or from school or related activities.

HOWEVER, that does not mean students are immune from injury due to bus accidents. In fact, it’s been calculated that 134 people die in school-vehicle related crashes each year. Of those, about 8 percent are actually on the bus. A significant portion of those injured or killed are bicyclists and pedestrians who are outside of the bus. Most are occupants of other vehicles.

Of those school age children killed in school-transportation related crashes, nearly 17 percent were actually on the bus. The rest were outside of it.

It’s also important to note that where schools employed vans or motor coaches to transport students to school or school-related events, the risk of injury to occupants increases. These vehicles have a lower profile and are statistically less safe than the tradition big yellow bus with which everyone is familiar. Drivers of these vehicles may also be more prone to fatigue, especially when transporting school teams or groups on overnight trips.

Finally, there are also a substantial number of child injuries that result from falls on the bus or from the bus. If a driver makes a sudden stop or initiates movement while students are still standing, loading or unloading, that can result in serious child injury.

Potential Liabilities

In filing legal action for school bus injuries, it’s important to properly identify all potential defendants. Some of these may include:

  • Bus Driver
  • Owner of Bus (i.e., State of Florida, school district, private company, etc.)
  • Bus maintenance company
  • Manufacturer of bus or of bus components (i.e., tires, seats, other safety systems)
  • The municipality where the crash occurred (i.e., defective roadway design)
  • Negligent third party (i.e., another driver, student or someone else who bears independent responsibility for what happened)

School bus accident injuries can be serious, and it’s important to have a seasoned trial lawyer on your side.

For information on legal action following a child injury in Fort Lauderdale, contact The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.