School buses are entrusted with transporting our precious kids. Even though the likelihood of a fatality occurring while school buses take our kids to and from school is substantially low, a large number of people are injured every year as a result of a school bus accident. Victims of school bus accidents are entitled to compensation and should contact a school bus accident lawyer as soon as possible.

School Bus Accident Statistics 1990-2009

Unfortunately, over the last two decades over 2,800 people were killed in school transportation-related accidents that either involved school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses (NHTSA Data Source1,Source 2).

Occupants of vehicles other than buses made up the largest number of fatalities (1970 in total). Non-occupants such as pedestrians and bicycle riders made up roughly 22% of total fatalities, while school bus occupants represented approximately 7% of the fatalities.

School Bus Related Fatalities 1990-2009 (2,836Fatalities)BusOccupantsNon-occupa…Other VehicleOccupants7%22.8%70.1%

70% of fatalities were among occupants of vehicles other than school buses.

Who Can Be Held Responsible in a School Bus Accident?

Depending on who is involved in a bus accident, the following parties may be held liable for accidents involving a school bus:

  • School Bus Driver
  • Other Drivers
  • School District
  • School Board
  • Bus Repair/Maintenance Company

California Education Code § 44808 states that children on school property, those who are taken to and from school premises, and those participating in school-sponsored activities are owed reasonable care under the circumstances. This means that the school board, the district, or any of its employees can be held responsible for negligent conduct.

An experienced school bus accident lawyer will thoroughly examine all of the evidence in order to determine the cause and the identity of the responsible parties.

Filing a Claim Against More Than One Party After a School Bus Accident

Depending upon your circumstances and the facts of the crash, you could be eligible to file a claim against more than one defendant. In school bus accidents, a school bus driver may be at fault, but that could also mean that the school district or the employer of a private school bus driver is also liable for your injuries. You can speak with a California bus accident attorney about determining liability and filing a claim against multiple parties.

Types of School Bus Accidents

Statistics show that most school bus accidents involve a head-on collision. Typically, a car or a stationary object is involved in such collisions. Injuries vary from minor cuts and bruises to loss of life. In high-speed accidents where a bus hits a car, the driver of the car can suffer catastrophic injuries due to the sheer force of the impact.

Catastrophic injuries also result in accidents involving a bicyclist or a pedestrian. Common types of accidents occur when a bus hits a pedestrian or a cyclist who is crossing a street. In these types of accidents chances of sustaining a brain injury or fatality are extremely high.

Statute of Limitations for a School Bus Accident Claim

How much time will you have to file a school bus accident claim in California? The answer to that question will depend upon whether the accident involves the fault of the school bus driver, and whether the school bus was transporting children to a public or private school. If the school bus driver was at fault and was driving a public school bus, it is important to know that you will likely be filing a claim against the government, and you will only have 6 months from the date of the accident to do so.

If the school bus driver was working for a private school, or if another party was at fault, then you will likely have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit.

What to Do Following a School Bus Accident

If you or a loved one were injured in a school bus accident, first and foremost seek medical attention. As obvious as that may sound, some people who “feel okay” jeopardize their claim for compensation by not seeking proper medical attention and or treatment.

Seek medical attention to avoid jeopardizing your claim.

Specific Steps You Should Take After the School Bus Accident

What specific steps do you need to take after a school bus accident in California? You should do the following to ensure that you are eligible to seek financial compensation for your losses:

  • Take photographs at the scene of the school bus accident, being careful to document the scene from multiple angles and vantage points, including close-up images of any property damage that may have occurred from the collision with the school bus and close-up images of any physical injuries that you sustained;
  • Ask for contact information from anyone who witnessed the school bus accident, including details of names, phone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses;
  • Obtain contact information from the school bus driver, as well as driver’s license details for that driver and for any other motorist who was involved in the crash;
  • See a health care provider for an assessment as soon as possible, recognizing that there are a wide variety of injuries that will not immediately have symptoms but can worsen without prompt medical care (and know that you could be at risk of having your damages awarded reduced if your injuries worsen as a result of your own failure to see a doctor);
  • If you were driving another motor vehicle at the time of the school bus accident, you will need to report the accident to your own insurance company promptly, even if you plan to take other steps to seek financial compensation for your losses; and
  • Hire an experienced school bus accident lawyer who can help you to determine your options for seeking compensation and to assist you with insurance negotiations or a school bus accident claim.

Depending upon the particular facts of your case, you also may need to take additional steps that you can discuss with an experienced school bus accident lawyer in California.

Comparative Fault in a School Bus Accident

What will the consequences be if you were also partially negligent and thus partially at fault for causing the school bus accident? Or, what would happen if you failed to seek immediate medical attention and your injuries worsened as a result of your own negligence? These questions get at the issue of comparative fault.

Under California law, courts in the state use a “pure comparative fault” rule, which means that a partially negligent plaintiff can still recover damages in a school bus accident lawsuit even if that plaintiff is partially to blame for the collision or for the severity of their injuries.  What is a pure comparative fault system? In short, comparative fault is a type of defense that a defendant will bring up in order to avoid being fully responsible for damages and for a plaintiff’s losses.

The defendant will then need to prove that the plaintiff was partially at fault. If the defendant is able to prove the plaintiff’s fault, the court will determine what the plaintiff’s portion of fault was, and the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by that percentage of fault. In a pure comparative fault system, a plaintiff can recover damages whether they are minimally at fault or up to 99 percent at fault.

Then, their total recovery will be diminished by their own fault. Accordingly, if you were partially at fault for a school bus accident but one or more defendants are still partially liable, you can still recover damages under California law.

Contact a School Bus Accident Lawyer in California

Due to the complexity of bus accident cases, you are advised to contact an experienced school bus accident lawyer as soon as possible. Unlike insurance companies, our attorneys have your best interests in mind.

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