Because of the size of a school bus and the amount of passengers who could be riding, accidents involving these large means of transportation can be quite severe and dangerous. Many school bus accidents happen as a means of some form of negligence, which in turn can cause victims to be eligible to file claims against the companies involved. A few of the reasons why a bus accident may occur by means of negligence could be because:
- Traffic violations due to many specific reasons such as speeding, failure to yield correctly, improper lane changes made by the driver, or driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driver error due to inattention, fatigue, DUI, or distractions such as talking to a passenger
- Mechanical equipment failure due to manufacturer’s mistake
- Unsafe seatbelt manufacturing
- Roof failure; the Federal Government requiring that the roof on a bus sustains no more than 5 inches of “roof crush” while supporting 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight
- Road conditions or overall design of the road being traveled
Sometimes it is indeed an accident or failure on the manufacturer’s part, but in many cases there is negligence involving the bus drivers themselves. Bus drivers are responsible for not only themselves and the passengers utilizing their services, in this case schoolchildren, but also other motorists inhabiting the road with them. As a result, they must always be on their toes and avoid drunk driving that could result in DUI and fatalities caused by a terrible involved accident. Fatigue is also an issue and can be avoided by following the guidelines set in place by the Federal Carrier Safety Administration (FCSA). These include not allowing a bus driver to drive more than 10 hours after eight hours of rest, or be on duty more than 60 hours in any week long period.
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In terms of liability in the case of a school bus accident where a child or children end up injured or worse, there are some determinations to be made. First of all, is the school bus owned by the school itself that the child attends, or by a private bus company? This can be a huge determining factor because in a case where the school specifically owns its buses, they are held responsible for protecting the children from harm. However, if the buses are owned by a private company, then the contractor themselves could be held liable for any incidents involving an accident.
Preventative matters can be taken to assure that school bus accidents remain on an ultimate low throughout the country. There are standards to be met both on federal and state levels. Drivers are held accountable to perform daily pre-trip inspections on their vehicles before picking up children to account for anything that can affect the vehicle’s operation mechanically. Buses must also be inspected semiannually or more, and buses must be maintained through preventative maintenance programs.
The biggest problem in the law world dealing with school bus accidents is not to eliminate all possible causes of injury alternatively; instead, it is to show that negligence was the probably cause in the incident. Whether or not this was dependent on the Bus Company, driver, or Private Corporation is up to the court to decide and issue judgment accordingly. Responsibility to be taken is key when children are involved in an excruciating accident that can cause mistrust in the worst ways. If you or your child suffer injuries on a school bus, and these were caused by the negligent actions of the bus driver seek legal help. Call the experienced, award winning team of Trial Lawyers, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi Personal Injury & Accident Law Firm in New Jersey. They can help you determine if you have case, they know how to get you the compensation you deserve.