Thousands of children in New York ride school buses every day, and most of the time, they reach their destination without incident. When a school bus is involved in an accident, though, your child could suffer serious injuries. While your top priority after a school bus accident is making sure your child is OK, you also have the right to pursue compensation if someone else’s negligence caused your child’s injuries. If the school bus driver is wholly or partly responsible for the accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your child’s injuries.
At Finz & Finz, P.C., our New York school bus accident lawyers have helped many parents whose children have been injured in bus crashes. But before you hire a personal injury attorney after a school bus accident, it is worth taking a moment to review what a school bus driver’s duties are and what constitutes negligence in these cases. Keep reading to learn more, and don’t hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation.
What Are a School Bus Driver’s Legal Duties?
When children are in the care of teachers or other school staff, the teachers and other staff members are responsible for keeping the children safe. This duty extends to school bus drivers as well.
All bus drivers have a legal responsibility to keep their passengers safe until they have reached their destination. School bus drivers have certain additional responsibilities because they are transporting children. Not only are school bus drivers expected to get their passengers to their destination safely, they are also responsible for maintaining order and keeping children safe when entering or exiting the bus. Some of the specific duties New York school bus drivers have include:
- Avoiding distractions that could cause an accident
- Being extra cautious in poor weather or road conditions
- Keeping the bus in good working order
- Keeping children out of the aisle in between seats, especially when the bus is moving
- Keeping students seated through the duration of the ride
- Making sure children are not being distracting when the bus is moving
- Making sure children cross the street in front of the school bus instead of behind it
- Making sure children enter and exit the bus in an orderly manner
- Making sure children use the handrail when entering or exiting the bus
- Not driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
- Not letting children on the bus before it has come to a complete stop
Common Example of School Bus Driver Negligence
Some common ways in which a school bus driver’s negligence could cause an accident include:
- Allowing children to cross the street behind the bus instead of in front of it
- Allowing children to get up and move around while the bus is in motion
- Operating the bus while distracted (talking on the phone, texting, etc.)
- Operating the bus while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
- Operating the bus in an unsafe manner in poor road or weather conditions
- Not maintaining order on the bus or allowing children to be distracting
- Not making sure children are entering and exiting the bus in a safe manner
- Speeding or driving the bus too fast for traffic conditions
How Common Are School Bus Accidents?
According to the National Safety Council, about 13,000 people were injured and another 111 people were killed in school bus accidents in one recent year. While drivers and passengers in other vehicles were the most often the victims in these accidents, sadly, children are killed and injured in school bus accidents every year.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a School Bus Accident?
If your child has been injured in a school bus accident and the bus driver acted negligently, you can hold the bus driver and their employer liable for the crash. However, there may be other parties who share responsibility for the accident, such as:
- The school board or school district – School boards and school districts are supposed to hire safe and dependable drivers to operate their buses. If a school board or school district hired a driver with a known history of unsafe driving or prior accidents, they could be held partly liable for a crash.
- The company that made the bus – Some school bus accidents are fully or partially caused by mechanical issues with the bus, in which case the company that made the bus may share responsibility for the crash.
- Other drivers – Other motorists can cause school bus accidents by driving aggressively or not being sufficiently careful around school buses. If another driver contributed to a school bus accident, they might be partly liable for your child’s injuries.
What to Do After Your Child Is Hurt in a School Bus Crash
Here is what you need to do if your child has been injured in a school bus accident:
- Ensure your child receives medical attention as soon as possible, even if they appear to have only minor injuries.
- Take pictures of every injury your child sustained in the accident.
- Save all your records and receipts related to your child’s care.
- If possible, get to the accident scene so you can document the crash, talk to other parents, and look for any potential eyewitnesses.
- Talk to a school bus accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Have to File a School Bus Accident Lawsuit
The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in New York gives you three years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit. However, the deadline to sue a governmental entity like a school district is 90 days from the date of the accident. Given how small your window is to seek compensation after a school bus accident, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a New York School Bus Accident Lawyer Now
You need to act immediately after a school bus accident if you want to recover compensation for your child’s injuries, and the Finz & Finz, P.C. team is ready to work on your case. Call our office today or visit our contact page for a free consultation with a school bus accident lawyer in New York.