When children board a school bus, we entrust their care to the driver. Most parents assume the school district hired a qualified, experienced person to operate the bus. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you need help from a school bus accident lawyer, consider The Bradley Law Firm. We routinely secure record settlements and verdicts in commercial motor vehicle cases and are ready to help you and your family.
A bus driver must use the highest degree of care when operating a school bus. Beyond this, most school districts have training manuals that set forth specific standards for drivers, including a directive to instruct children how to properly and safely board and exit the bus.
Currently, there is no federal law that requires school buses to have seat belts. The National Highway Safety Administration failed to act on this citing a lack of data to substantiate the use of seat belts. Certain states, like Texas, passed legislation mandating all new school buses have seat belts. Currently, Missouri does not have any similar legislation.
A recent study by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science and Engineering proved school buses are the safest way for children to travel. Approximately 25% of all school children ride the bus. On average, each year there are 6000 school bus related injuries and 20 school bus related deaths. In comparison, each year, 78,200 teen drivers sustain serious personal injury and 448 are killed in car accidents on the way to or from school. The statistics fare better for adult drivers that transport children to school, but do not come close to the safety provided by a school bus. However, it should be noted a recent study qualified the above figures, indicating 17,000 children are sent to the emergency room with significant personal injuries each year.
Single-Vehicle Bus Crashes:
These accidents occur when another vehicle negligently causes a bus to avoid a crash or when a bus is operated in a way that causes an accident. In either of these scenarios, negligence is involved. In Missouri, a driver is negligent when he or she fails to operate a vehicle with “the highest degree of care.” Most often, a bus driver will be involved in a single-vehicle bus accident when he or she is in a hurry, running late, or not paying attention.
Multi-Vehicle Bus Accidents:
A multi-vehicle bus accident happens when two or more vehicles crash into each other as the result of one or more operator’s negligence. These kind of Missouri school bus accidents can happen when a another driver crosses the center line and hit a bus head-on, hits a bus from behind or fails to yield the right of way. In right of way cases, it is extremely important to obtain statements from independent witnesses so negligence can be established. In Missouri, there are numerous laws that regulate how a driver may operate their vehicle. In many cases, if a driver breaks one of these laws, they can be held negligent per se for this violation. This means common law negligence need not be proven- only a violation of the Missouri personal injury statute of limitations.
Child Crossing Accidents:
These types of accidents occur when a child is hit or run over by a school bus. It is estimated two of every three children killed outside a school bus are struck by the bus- not another vehicle. This happens when a bus driver fails to account for all children boarding and exiting the bus, unexpectedly moves the bus, or simply fails to see a child in the roadway. Most buses are still not equipped with back up sensors, cameras or crossing arms. Crossing arms are a recent safety device that protects children from injury. School bus crossing arms extend from the right side of the bus to a number of feet in front of the bus, which requires a child to cross the street a number of feet in front of the bus. This takes children out of the school bus driver’s blind spot.
School bus accidents are rare, but when they happen, you need an experienced lawyer to handle your Missouri personal injury case or Missouri wrongful death claim.
At E. Ryan Bradley, we handle school bus accident cases throughout Missouri and Illinois. When you hire our injury law firm, we will perform a full investigation and provide you with an aggressive representation.
Contact us today at 314-400-0000 for your free legal consultation.