School Bus Accident Attorneys
While school bus accidents are relatively rare compared to other motor vehicle crashes, they can cause immense harm to those who are affected. In a study conducted between 2008-2017, the NHTSA found that there were 1,113 fatal motor vehicle crashes that were school transportation-related. 70% of people who lost their lives were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crashes, while 10% of those fatalities were occupants of the school buses and the other 20% nonoccupants of vehicles (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc).
No one wants their life upended in a serious motor vehicle collision and no parent wants to hear that their child was harmed. However, if you find yourself in this situation, you may have legal recourse to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident.
The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy fight hard for victims harmed in school bus crashes. Some of our case results include $2.9 million and $2.2 million settlements for school bus accident victims. Our lawyers provide free consultations to personal injury victims in New York and New Jersey. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to speak with a Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney today.
Filing a Lawsuit After a School Bus Crash
Typically, there are three different types of school bus accidents that can lead to the possibility of bringing a lawsuit. These include the following:
Accidents involving other vehicles. It is far more likely that you will get into an accident with a school bus in your own vehicle than being on the bus itself. Due to a bus’s size and nature, a collision with a smaller vehicle can be tragic, and sometimes even fatal. According to the NHTSA, more people were killed during the morning and evening commutes than any other time of day.
Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. The NHTSA reports that nearly two-thirds of school-aged pedestrians who were injured fatally in a car accident were struck by school buses. Sometimes a bus driver that isn’t paying close attention to the road can roll through a stop sign and accidentally hit a pedestrian or a cyclist. There are many distractions that can occur on the bus itself, ranging from loud noises to unruly children out of their seats. It is the bus driver’s responsibility to remain vigilant while on the road.
Accidents involving bus occupants. Although bus occupants are required to wear a seatbelt while on the bus, there is still a risk of injury in the event of a crash. Additionally, there is typically only one adult on the bus to watch several dozen children, which can contribute to distracted driving. No parent wants to think about the possibility of their child getting into an accident while on their way to school. But if the unthinkable happens and an accident occurs because of someone else’s negligence, as a parent you may have legal recourse.
Liability in School Bus Accidents
There are multiple parties who could be held accountable in a school bus collision, depending on the circumstances. These include:
- Bus driver: There are several ways that a bus driver can be liable for your accident. They could have been operating the vehicle while fatigued or impaired, were speeding, or were driving while distracted, to name a few.
- School district or government entity: The school district and the government itself is responsible for the hiring and training of the bus drivers, as well as overseeing the maintenance of the school buses themselves. If a school bus gets into an accident, it is possible that the school district will be held liable for the crash.
- Other vehicles on the road: Other vehicles can also be at fault for causing an accident if they were speeding, driving under the influence, or were negligent in some way while operating their vehicle. If this was the case, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit with the at-fault driver.
- Bus manufacturing company or maintenance entity: Occasionally, parts of the bus may not work properly without the bus driver’s knowledge. In this case, it is possible that the bus manufacturing company, the mechanic, or the maintenance company responsible for the bus’s upkeep could be at fault if the accident was due to a defect or malfunction in the vehicle.
Every case is complex and different in its own way. Liability is not guaranteed; however, if you have been in an accident that you believe transpired as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should seek legal counsel with an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law.
Laws Related to School Bus Collisions
School bus crashes can get tricky when the driver and the school district are at fault. Because public schools are considered government organizations, their employees are employees of the government, and they can claim sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a law that prevents the government and its subsidiaries from being sued without its consent.
Today, sovereign immunity law can enforce special procedural requirements and time limits on cases made against the government. However, sovereign immunity can be waived if the accident was caused by negligence, and the government will typically allow a lawsuit by waiver or consent to suit. Although this law can make school bus accident cases harder to pursue, it is not impossible. If your accident occurred in New York State, you may have an easier time pursuing your case. According to the New York City Bar, New York State has waived its sovereign immunity as long as the victim files a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident. The Notice of Claim informs the municipality where the incident occurred that there was an accident from which injuries or damages resulted. After filing the required Notice of Claim, the claimant has a year and 90 days to file a lawsuit.
Additionally, if the school bus was employed by a private or parochial school, the sovereign immunity law does not apply as these schools are not government organizations. In these cases, the victim may be able to take direct action against the bus driver or the school itself by filing a personal injury claim.
Sovereign immunity law can be confusing, but it does allow for the possibility to fight its statute of limitations depending on personal circumstances. Therefore, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in school bus accidents and sovereign immunity law to determine if your situation qualifies for the waiver.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are ready to discuss your case and how New York and New Jersey laws may play a role. Call 212-736-5300 to speak with one of our qualified attorneys today.
Legal Action That Yields Results
The auto accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are here to fight for the victims of serious physical or emotional injuries caused by school bus accidents. Our attorneys serve New York and New Jersey and have obtained significant results for those injured in school bus accidents. Prominent verdicts and settlements include the following:
- $2,925,000 settlement for a 39-year-old driver in Queens who sustained serious back and other injuries after being hit on the passenger side of his car by a school bus that ran a stop sign
- $2,250,000 settlement for a pedestrian in the Bronx who was abiding by traffic laws and crossing the street when a school bus turned into the intersection unlawfully
- $1,750,000 settlement for a driver in Norwood, Bronx who was hit by a school bus while stopped at a red light and whose injuries developed after the collision
- $1,490,000 settlement for a 39-year-old man who was suffered severe neck and back injuries after colliding with a school bus in an intersection
- $1,350,000 settlement for a 53-year-old pedestrian who was struck by a school bus turning into an intersection while she was crossing the street with the traffic signal in her favor
With over 100 auto accident case results exceeding $1,000,000 each, the law firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy is equipped to represent victims in serious car accident cases, including school bus crashes. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to speak with a knowledgeable attorney today.