For any parent, few things are more disturbing and frightening than the thought of something happening to their child. When parents put their children on a school bus, they entrust their most precious treasure – their kids – to the bus driver and supervisor to keep them safe and take good care of them. Unfortunately, school bus accidents can happen when parents least expect them, and few parental experiences are worse than receiving a phone call saying that their child has been involved in one. If your child was injured in an accident while riding a school bus, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Stufano Law represents parents of children injured while riding in school buses as passengers, hit by buses as pedestrians, or otherwise harmed in school bus accidents. Clients in Yonkers, New York and the surrounding area can reach out to schedule a free initial consultation to review their case by calling (914) 752-7746 today.
Common Types of School Bus Accidents
School buses are a common sight on the roads of New York. They transport millions of children to and from school every day. According to the National Safety Council, school buses transport more than 20 million elementary and secondary school children throughout the United States. However, as with any type of vehicle on the road, a school bus can be involved in a traffic accident. Some of the most common types of accidents involving school buses include:
- Rear-end collisions. In this type of crash, one vehicle strikes another from behind. These accidents are more common when a passenger vehicle crashes into the back of a school bus than the other way around.
- Head-on collisions. This type of accident occurs when two vehicles collide front to front while traveling in opposite directions. Head-on collisions involving school buses are the most dangerous ones due to the amount of kinetic energy and momentum involved.
- Sideswipe crashes. A sideswipe crash occurs when two vehicles traveling in the same direction make contact. This type of collision is likely to occur when a school bus or another vehicle leaves its lane of travel.
- Crosswalk accidents. In this type of accident, a school bus hits a pedestrian (in some cases even children who were aboard the bus) when they attempt to cross the road in a designated crosswalk.
- Onboarding and offboarding accidents. These accidents occur when children enter or exit the school bus. They may be particularly likely if the bus driver does not notice that a child has not finished boarding the bus and closes the doors and/or sets the bus in motion.
Every type of school bus accident has the potential to result in tragic outcomes. According to a comprehensive study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses average about 26,000 crashes per year, resulting in about 10 fatalities.
What Are the School Bus Accident Injuries?
Children in school bus accidents can suffer a wide range of injuries, including but not limited to:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Broken bones, including bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries and other back injuries
- Chest injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Scrapes, bus, and lacerations
- Internal injuries, including organ damage
Children are likely to suffer these and other types of injuries whether they are involved in an accident while aboard the school bus or struck by the school bus while attempting to cross the street. The medical bills and other damages depend on the child’s type and severity of injuries as well as the prognosis for recovery. A knowledgeable attorney at Stufano Law may be able to review the particulars of your case with you and help you to determine which damages might be eligible for compensation.
Causes of School Bus Accidents
Accidents involving school buses can occur due to many different factors. Each accident should be investigated individually to determine what caused the accident and who should be held responsible. Common causes of school bus accidents include:
- Driver error or negligence. When either the bus driver or other drivers on the road do not follow traffic rules and fail to take the necessary safety precautions, accidents are likely to occur.
- Adverse weather conditions. School buses must transport children in a variety of weather conditions, even when it is snowing and raining. Inclement weather can significantly increase the risk of an accident, especially when drivers fail to adjust their driving behavior accordingly.
- Blind spots. Buses have large blind spots, which are areas the bus operator cannot see when looking in their mirrors or even turning their head. The bus driver may not be aware of a vehicle’s presence in the blind spot when performing maneuvers like changing lanes or turning.
- Making turns. When a bus makes a turn, it can cross over into oncoming traffic or an adjacent lane. This has the potential to cause a head-on collision or a sideswipe crash.
- Drowsy driving. Many school bus drivers work long hours or even multiple jobs to make ends meet. This can result in fatigue and increase the risk of drowsy driving, which is when the driver is cognitively impaired due to a lack of sleep.
- Tailgating. Traffic laws require motor vehicles to maintain a safe following distance. Driving closely behind another vehicle is known as tailgating. When engaging in this behavior, a driver may not be able to react in time to prevent a rear-end collision.
- Failure to yield the right of way. Many accidents involving school buses occur when either the bus driver or another driver does not yield the right of way when they are supposed to.
- Improperly maintained bus. School buses must be properly maintained to prevent their parts and equipment from failing and endangering the children and others on the road. Unfortunately, some school buses are improperly maintained due to the lack of inspections.
In some cases, it may not be immediately apparent how and why a school bus accident occurred. Such cases usually require a thorough investigation, which may involve visiting the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, requesting footage from nearby traffic or surveillance cameras, and many other steps.
In school bus accidents, multiple parties can be brought to justice if their negligence or recklessness caused or contributed to the accident. Depending on the facts surrounding the crash, the following parties may be held liable:
- The driver of the school bus
- The school district that hired the driver
- The entity responsible for inspecting and maintaining the school bus
- The driver of another vehicle
- The company that owns the school bus
- The manufacturer of the school bus
- The government entity responsible for maintaining the road
An in-depth investigation conducted by a skilled attorney can often reveal who should be held responsible for the school bus accident and the resulting damages and injuries suffered by the children and other people.
Start Working With an Attorney
There is nothing more upsetting and heartbreaking than seeing your child in pain. A personal injury attorney will understand just how devastating and traumatizing school bus accidents can be. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you and your child may be legally entitled to compensation for the damages incurred. Working with a lawyer can make it easier for you to pursue fair compensation and ensure that all at-fault parties are held responsible. Call (914) 752-7746 to schedule a case evaluation with Stufano Law and discuss your unique case.