When sending your children to school, you trust that their school buses are well-maintained, that drivers are properly screened and trained, and that safety protocols and procedures are implemented to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, every year school bus accidents result in catastrophic accidents and injuries--many of them avoidable or preventable. Recent statistics distributed by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration assess the number of accidents every year that impact the lives of American schoolchildren.
There are a number of reasons why school buses can be unsafe for children. In addition to the fact that children do not wear seat belts on most buses, the sheer number of passengers can create a hazard. In addition to the dangers to occupants, other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists have also become victims of school-bus related accidents. The size of the vehicle can cause significant damage to other vehicles and visibility may be restricted for drivers. Our Charlotte child injury attorneys are experienced in helping the victims of school bus related accidents recover compensation.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has collected data involving the number of accidents involving school transportation. According to reports, a school transportation-related crash either involves directly or indirectly a school bus or a non-school bus that is functioning to transfer children. These accidents may involve a school bus that is responsible for taking children to and from school or to a special event, such as a field trip or after school activity.
Since 2002, 1,351 people have died in school bus accidents--this equates to an average of 135 fatalities every year. Children crossing the street in front of a bus were particularly vulnerable to fatal accidents. Two-thirds of the school aged children who died in school bus accidents were struck by buses. There were 236 pedestrians killed by school buses since 2002. Tragically, forty percent of these pedestrian victims were between the ages of 5 and 7.
School bus drivers who are not properly screened can also be a risk to child passengers. Accidents may be caused by fatigued drivers, distracted drivers, drunk bus drivers, or a driver that has simply not been properly trained to operate a school bus. School bus accidents may occur when a bus strikes a fixed object, overturns, or collides with another vehicle. These accidents can be fatal: between 2002 and 2011, 82 accidents caused the death of at least one child occupant.
If your child is injured on a school bus, it is important to involve an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An independent investigation can help to determine the cause of the accident and identify all responsible parties. A school bus accident may be caused by a negligent driver, a vehicle in disrepair, or defective vehicle parts. Depending on the cause of the accident, various individuals or entities may be held accountable for all injuries or fatalities. Whether by settlement or jury verdict, victims may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care needs, rehabilitation, lost wages or the death of a loved one.