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Who is Liable in a School Bus Accident?

When it comes to the school year, we’re all in a pretty annual routine—the buses come back around mid-August, there are more kids out and about, more teen drivers, and so on. Even if you don’t have kids to get ready for school every weekday morning, you’re at least well aware of the big yellow buses being more prevalent again during your morning commutes.

On May 8, 2017, a school bus crashed into a home just south of downtown Fort Wayne. A car had been driving down the residential road and hit the bus head-on. The car went sideways, locking the breaks, and ran up the porch of the house as well. The bus reportedly struck the car after the car drifted left of the centerline, leaving the car with heavy damage. Regardless of who’s at fault, bus accidents are a lot like semi-truck accidents—a larger vehicle brings more potential for volume and severity of damage and you’ll usually have a large company to deal with if you try to make a claim in pursuit of compensation. On that note, let’s explore a few aspects of school bus accidents.

From 2004 to 2013, there have been 327 school-age children who have died in school-transportation-related crashes. 54 of those deaths took place within a school transportation vehicle, 147 occupied other vehicles in the crash, 116 were pedestrians, 9 were cyclists, and 1 was listed as an “other non-occupant,” meaning they were outside the vehicle, but details about their mode of transportation or activities are unlisted. Notice that the fatality count of people in other non-school transportation vehicles is nearly three times the fatality count of people actually on the school transportation vehicle itself.

In terms of school transport liability, it can be tough to determine who’s liable in an accident. For any company involved with school transportation and the school districts they serve, every day is a risk on the road. The first course of action after an accident is to determine who was responsible for protecting the passengers on board—if a school district owns their own buses, the accident liability and responsibility for student safety falls to the school. If the school contracts their transportation services to a private bus company, the contract must be referenced for details on who is liable in the event of an accident. Some causes of an accident may not even happen on the roadway—whoever is responsible (be it a school or a bus company) needs to ensure that proper maintenance checks and repairs are being done on their bus fleet, as improper maintenance or negligent repairs can cause an accident out on the road and be traced back to poor service. After an accident, these aspects need to be investigated in order to determine who was at fault and who could pursue compensation in court.

When it comes down to deciding whether and how to make a claim following an accident with a school transportation vehicle, you’ll need an experienced accident lawyer on your side to help you understand what you’re dealing with and to get you the most compensation possible for your claim. Contact Boughter Sinak, LLC, today for a free consultation and to get started on your case.