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School Bus Accident

Every day, thousands of children across Georgia are put on school buses by parents who trust they will be transported safely. This is why it is so particularly devastating to learn that children have been injured in a school bus accident. School bus accidents can also be devastating to other road users. When a school bus strikes another vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian, its weight and size can cause severe injuries to an opposing victim. The serious nature of school bus accidents makes it especially important for victims to consult with an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer about their legal rights. An experienced attorney can identify all the losses you have sustained in order to present the insurance company with a compelling case for full and fair compensation. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, an experienced attorney will be able to effectively litigate your case in order to persuade a jury of the full value of your losses.

The Facts About School Bus Accidents

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports that 1,564 people died in the United States between 1998 and 2008 in a crash involving a school bus. While only .34 percent of fatal car accidents in the United States during this time involved a school bus, the fatality statistics are still alarming. Between 1998 and 2008, 149 pedestrians under the age of 19 were killed died in accidents involving school buses. And approximately half of these victims were children between the ages of 5 and 7. These are concerning statistics among such a vulnerable population of road users.

The problem is pervasive here in Georgia, as well. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 2016 saw 700 school bus accidents in the metro Atlanta area. That is nearly two accidents per day exposing school children to the risk of serious injury or death. Bus drivers were cited in about one out of every three of these accidents. This raises the important issue of how safe Georgia school bus drivers are, and who is responsible for their negligence when they are not.

Who is Liable for a School Bus Accident?

As in most auto accidents, the at-fault driver can be cited by police and held legally responsible (“liable”) for injuries and damage caused by the accident. School districts often carry auto insurance policies with specific provisions for their bus drivers. And because an employer is liable for the negligence of employees acting within the scope and course of their employment, a school district (or driving company contracted by the district) can also be held liable for a school bus driver’s negligence.

In addition to this “vicarious liability,” a school district can also be negligent in the hiring, training, and supervision of its drivers. For example: if a district hires an unsafe driver with a bad driving record or criminal convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, this could be considered negligence in the hiring process. The district could also be negligent if it fails to provide adequate safety training to its drivers, or fails to supervise its drivers to correct unsafe behaviors. If a school bus driver negligently causes an accident as the result of inadequate training or supervision, the school district can be held liable for its own negligence - not just the negligence of its employee.

Sometimes an accident involving a school bus is not the fault of the school bus driver. Another driver on the roadway may have been negligent and found to be at fault for causing the accident. In such a case, that driver is legally responsible for compensating all injuries he or she causes. This is true even if there are many victims (as is the case with a large number of school bus passengers).

In other cases, a third party who wasn’t involved in the accident might be legally responsible for causing it. Bus manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe for ordinary road use. If a vehicle defect causes an accident, injury victims have the right to be compensated by the negligent manufacturer who allowed the defect to occur. Or perhaps a city or country has failed to perform reasonable maintenance on its roadways. Uneven surfaces or gaps in the pavement might cause an accident that is not due to the negligence of a school bus driver. In such a case, the government entity responsible for maintaining the roadway might be found negligent, and thus bear the responsibility of compensating accident victims who were injured as a result.

Staying Safe on the Roads of Georgia

When you are driving, remember the steps you must take to prevent school bus accidents. All fifty states require drivers to stop when a school bus has its stop sign arm deployed to let children on and off. Watch carefully for children in the roadway before continuing on - even if the arm has been retracted. Be especially care around schools, day care centers, playgrounds and other facilities where children are likely to be present. Reduce your speed appropriately and keep an especially careful watch on the road. Children can act unpredictably and may be more likely to run out into the road unexpectedly. Finally, parents must be especially careful during school drop-offs and pick-ups. The heavy traffic, crowds of child pedestrians, and confusing atmosphere can make it difficult to observe all hazards in your way. Don’t lose sight of the road ahead of you, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by passengers, mobile devices, food, or drink.

School Bus Lawyers With Knowledge and Experience

Auto accident victims deserve full and fair compensation for their injuries, and the law protects this right. School bus accidents can present specific legal challenges. Without an experienced auto accident attorney defending your claim, you may lose out on the fair compensation to which you are entitled by law. The experienced Georgia auto accident attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have decades of knowledge and experience. They have helped auto accident victims across Georgia access fair compensation for their injuries. Don’t fight the insurance company alone - get the protection of an experienced attorney who is fighting for you. Call 404.255.6677 to schedule your free consultation today.

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