School buses are the safest way to get children to and from school, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nonetheless, school bus accidents happen.
The most recent data shows that 1,387 people died in school transportation-related crashes between 2000-2009. Passengers inside the school bus accounted for 8% of these fatalities. Of these, the highest percentage killed were adults, followed by children between the ages of 8 – 13.
During this same period, 130 school-age pedestrians died in school bus-related crashes. Sixty-seven percent of these children were struck by a school bus (most between the ages of 5-7) and 27% died from being struck by other vehicles involved in the crash.
Causes of School Bus Accidents
Like any other motor vehicle accident, school bus accidents can have multiple causes. Among the more common causes are:
- Equipment malfunction (tire blowout, loss of steering control, etc.)
- School bus driver fatigue
- Poor driving conditions (wet roads, rain, snow, fog, etc.)
- Driver inexperience
- Driver failing to look for/see children near the bus
- Failure to yield right-of-way to school bus
- Speeding or aggressive driving near school bus
- Driver retracting stop sign too early
School Bus Accident Injuries
School bus accidents can lead to serious injuries apart from death, including:
- brain/head injuries
- broken bones and fractures
- neck, back and spinal cord injuries
- lacerations, cuts and bruises
- internal injuries
The medical expenses and emotional trauma surrounding a school bus accident can be overwhelming. The victim may require extensive hospitalization, at-home care, physical or mental therapy, and be unable to work, resulting in a loss of income and other earnings. This can cause severe financial and mental stress.
What to Do Following a School Bus Accident
The first thing to do is seek medical help. Even if the victim does not seem injured, it’s important to have a thorough physical examination by a qualified health care provider in the event the injury doesn’t have obvious symptoms or signs.
Next, gather and record any evidence you have relating to the accident. Write down names and telephone numbers of witnesses, and any memories you or your child has relating to the accident.
Finally, you should contact a California personal injury lawyer. An experienced school bus lawyer can investigate the cause of accident, determine whether you have a viable case, and assess who should be held liable for the injuries. In some cases, the driver may be at fault; in other cases, it may be a third-party, such as a driver of another vehicle or the manufacturer of the school bus. Sometimes the school board or school district should be held responsible.
If your claim is successful, those responsible may have to compensate you or your loved one for medical expenses, lost earnings and wages, and pain and suffering experienced.
The school bus accident attorneys at the Appel Law Firm LLP are dedicated to helping San Francisco Bay Area residents receive compensation for injuries and wrongful deaths arising from school bus-related accidents.