School bus drivers should be careful and experienced because they are responsible for the lives of dozens of children and owe a duty of care to other drivers on the road. However, school bus crashes happen all the time, and they may affect you in several ways. You may be the parent of a student on the bus. You may be driving your car or riding your motorcycle when you were hit by a school bus. Or you may be a pedestrian caught in the melee of this type of crash. In any of these situations, you are dealing with worry, pain, and a lot of unexpected costs for medical treatment. You have a right according to personal injury law in Texas to recover these expenses from the fault party.. An experienced bus accident attorney at Glenn Law Firm is always ready to review your case and assist you.
It is very important to control your panic and fear, no matter how worried you are about your child or your own health and contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.. As you will see below, there are very strict guidelines for suing the school district (if they are the liable party) and a tight deadline to meet.
What Makes a School Bus Accident Difficult to Handle
Starting with 1969, Texas added the Tort Claims Act to its Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Before this law, citizens had absolutely no legal recourse if they wanted to recover damages from government agencies. And school districts fall into this category.
However, the Tort Claims Act changed that, allowing people to hold the school district liable for negligence, including bus accident injury and property damage. This is a good step forward, but it still has a few drawbacks. One of them is that there are caps on the maximum compensation a school bus accident victim can recover from each "unit of local government", i.e. school districts. The maximum bus accident claim, according to the law, is limited at:
- $100,000 per person
- $300,000 per accident.
This means that if five children are injured in a bus crash, the total amount they may recover together is $300,000 or $60,000 per injured child.
The second drawback is that the victims must send a notice to the school district that they want to file an accident injury lawsuit. Each city can establish its own deadline for filing this notice. If you exceed it by even one day, you will not be allowed to take legal action and claim damages.
Common Types of School Bus Accidents
As any experienced bus accident lawyer can explain, a traffic collision involving a school bus can happen for a variety of reasons. These are:
- a negligent bus driver who drives recklessly and hits another vehicle
- the bus crashes into an obstacle or overturns
- a schoolchild is hit by another vehicle while getting on or off the bus.
It is very important to establish the accurate conditions in which the accident happened, because you may be looking at different liable parties: a person, a private company or a unit of the local government.
Who Is Liable for School Bus Accidents?
The successful recovery of the maximum compensation allowed by law depends on identifying the adequate responsible party and preparing your claim for injuries and property damage carefully. Depending on circumstances, the at-fault party may be:
1. The School Bus Driver
School bus drivers should be carefully screened and recruited and receive special training. Yet, for lack of personnel, school bus companies do not always perform their due diligence. This is why some drivers who take school students to and from home are prone to:
- distracted driving
- driving under influence
- aggressive driving.
Given the comparative negligence law in Texas, if the driver is more than 51% responsible for the crash, they are liable to pay damages to all victims - passengers on the school bus, other motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.
2. The School Bus Company
Many school districts hire a private bus company to provide transportation for its students. In this case, the bus driver is not treated as a government employee, and the special limitations listed above in this article do not apply. Parents of injury victims or other accident victims can sue the driver and the school bus company, in the same manner in which they would do it for any regular employer responsible for the negligent behavior of their employee.
3. The School District
The ultimate employer of a school bus driver is the school district. It is up to you whether you want to sue them, if the driver is directly employed by a private company. However, if the school district is the driver's actual employer, you have no other option for recovering your economic and non-economic damages.
Proving that the school district is responsible for your injuries or your child's injuries requires a detailed investigation of the crash by an experienced school bus accident lawyer. Some reasons that make school districts directly liable for a traffic accident are:
- hiring unqualified drivers
- failing to provide ongoing maintenance to keep the school bus in good working condition
- failing to implement school bus safety regulations.
4. The School Bus Manufacturing Company
In some cases, school bus passengers and other drivers are injured because the bus had a manufacturing defect. In this case, a personal injury attorney will instruct you to file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. You do not have to prove any duty of care, only that the bus was defective and this was a direct cause of your injuries.
5. Another Motorist
In some instances, the at-fault driver is not the school bus driver, but another motorist. Once the accurate proportion of fault has been established, your attorney will be able to advise you on the proper course of action to maximize your final settlement amount for compensations.
What Type of Damages Can You Recover after a School Bus Accident?
Personal injury victims are entitled to receive two types of compensation: for economic damages and for non-economic damages. Economic damages include present and future medical expenses, physical and emotional rehabilitation costs, loss of earning capacity (if the victim is impaired and unable to work), and expenses for assistive devices and home modifications.
Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress. An experienced school bus accident lawyer can help you calculate a fair compensation for these damages, and present strong argument in the claim filed on your behalf.
Remember that Time Is Running Out - Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm!
Taking action after a school bus accident has two time constraints. One is the period for filing a notice if you want to sue the school district. The other is the statute of limitations applicable to all types of personal injury cases - 2 years after the date of the accident.
Time can fly unnoticed when you worry about your child's health or try to recover from your injury. When you feel that you are ready to take legal action, it may be too late. This is why you should prioritize hiring a personal injury attorney.
At Glenn Law Firm, we have 38 years of experience in helping accident victims obtain fair compensation for your pain and suffering and economic losses. Call us now to receive a free case evaluation: 817-424-5999!