When you put your children on the school bus each morning, you have every right to expect that they will be well taken care of throughout the day—including on the bus ride to and from school. When that isn’t the case, it is especially devastating. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you understand just how traumatic that is. Don’t hesitate to seek experienced legal counsel to protect your child’s rights.
Georgia School Bus Accidents Happen
It’s terrifying to think about, but school bus accidents happen. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in the years from 2004 through 2012, 174 school-aged children died in school bus crashes (or crashes involving other forms of school transportation). Fifty-five of the children were killed while riding in the busses, and the rest of the children were pedestrians. About 19 children die each year in school bus accidents, and nearly half of these children are between the ages of five and seven. These numbers are far too high.
If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you need skilled legal counsel. At Brauns Law, PC, in Gwinnett County, Georgia, we have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your child’s rights, and we’re here to help.
School bus accidents are generally caused by the same things that cause other kinds of vehicular accidents:
- Driver distraction, impairment, or other forms of negligence
- Poorly maintained school busses
- Equipment defects
- Inadequate passenger protection (which can exacerbate the injuries incurred in an accident)
The difference is that you’ve entrusted your child’s safety and care to the school’s bussing system, and they failed to protect your child. Because all parents must place their trust in the school system to which they send their children, such a lapse can be very difficult to come to terms with.
Bus Driver Negligence
The school bus driver who delivers your children to school and back each day is charged with safely transporting your children, and if that driver’s negligence causes your child to be injured, it can be especially devastating for you as a parent. Further, the school district is charged with hiring experienced, safe, reliable, and responsible drivers who are well equipped to fulfill this extremely important task. If the school district’s hiring practices are negligent, it can affect your children’s safety.
Negligence on the part of the school bus driver can take many forms:
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or exhaustion
- Not adjusting for road conditions, inclement weather, or low visibility
- Not obeying traffic signs or signals
- Speeding and engaging in other forms of aggressive driving
Distracted Bus Driving
Distracted driving has become such a prevalent problem that it’s important to take a closer look. In fact, distracted driving has reached such epic proportions that the U.S. government maintains a website that’s dedicated to the issue, distraction.gov. The government characterizes distracted driving as any driving in which the driver’s attention is focused on anything other than the primary task of driving. Further, they break distracted driving down into three classifications:
- Manual distractions that engage the driver’s hands
- Visual distractions that engage the driver’s vision
- Cognitive distractions that engage the driver’s thoughts
When it comes to distractions, texting reigns supreme because it manages to combine all three forms of distraction in one activity. It’s important to note that Georgia law prohibits school bus drivers from using their smartphones—even if it’s in hands-free mode. Your child’s school bus driver should never engage with his or her smartphone while behind the wheel of a school bus.
Smartphones aren’t the only distraction out there. School bus drivers can become distracted by any number of things:
- Reading maps or directions
- Eating and/or drinking
- Allowing the children on the bus to distract one’s driving
- Using the driving mirrors for any reason other than safe driving
School bus drivers are professional drivers who ferry precious cargo—your children. These drivers are held to stricter legal standards than other drivers on our roads, and you should be able to trust your children’s bus driver to protect them from harm.
Your Accident Claim
If your child’s been injured in a school bus accident that was caused by a bus driver’s negligence, your claim may involve the bus driver, the school district, any third-party contracting agency, and the insurance companies. These claims are complicated, but an experienced personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and get to the bottom of what transpired. Whether bus driver negligence, a faulty or poorly maintained bus, negligence on the part of the school district, or anything else caused the accident, your rights and your rightful compensation matter.
Dr. Edward F. Dragan writes for Education Expert that “[w]hen a school provides transportation for a student, it has a duty to transport them safely, and the school ordinarily cannot avoid its liability for failing to transport its pupils safely by delegating performance of its duty to a private school bus company.” Furthermore, he writes that “where work involved may be characterized as inherently dangerous (transporting school children), the duties of the employer (the school) are nondelegable, and the school may be liable for the negligence of its contractor (the bus company) if it did not reasonably monitor the contractor’s compliance activities.” In other words, if a third-party contractor hired the negligent bus driver, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the school district doesn’t share the responsibility.
If Your Child’s Was Injured in a School Bus Accident, Seek Experienced Legal Counsel from Brauns Law, PC
If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you know exactly how traumatic that is. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Brauns Law, Personal Injury Firm in Gwinnett County, Georgia, are here to help. We have the experience and the dedication to fight for your child’s rights and rightful compensation, so please contact or call us at (404) 348-0889 for a free consultation today.