Articles Posted in School Bus Accidents

School bus drivers are entrusted with carrying society’s most precious cargo – its children. Because of this, school bus drivers are held to a high standard. Indeed, whenever a Maryland school bus accident occurs, the driver is usually suspended, and the accident is investigated.

School BusAfter a Maryland school bus accident, the families of the students involved may be left wondering how the accident occurred and whom they can hold accountable for their child’s injuries. Of course, the obvious answer is the school bus driver or, if the accident was another driver’s fault, the at-fault driver. However, there may be additional parties that can be named in a Maryland school bus accident case, such as the school district and any of the officials responsible for hiring the driver.

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees. These include school bus drivers, whose employers are usually the school district for which they drive. In some cases, the school district contracts with an outside company who provides the drivers. In any event, when a school bus driver is acting within the scope of his employment and causes an accident, the driver’s employer – whether public or private – may also be held accountable. Of course, establishing vicarious liability requires that proof be submitted establishing that the driver was properly hired and employed at the time of the accident, as well as the fact that he was acting as an employee at the time of the accident.

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Large trucks have the capacity to cause major damage when they are involved in an accident. These dangers are increased when a truck being driven is on a crowded highway. In general, it is a motorist’s duty to ensure that they are operating their vehicle in a safe manner and in compliance with state and local regulations.

School BusesDue to the size and weight of large vehicles, this often means that truck drivers must leave additional room between their rig and other vehicles on the road. Indeed, a large truck traveling at highway speeds can take the length of a football field to come to a complete stop. When a truck driver fails to take the necessary precautions when operating his vehicle, he may be liable for any injuries that result.

Notwithstanding a truck driver’s negligence, sometimes other motorists contribute to truck accidents. This may be a distracted motorist who swerves out of her lane or an aggressive driver who cuts off a truck that ultimately crashes into another vehicle. In these situations, it may be the case that both the truck driver and another party are liable. In such situations, it will be up to a jury to decide which parties are liable and the percentage of fault for each driver.

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Large trucks are made to bring goods across the country, and as a result, they are specifically designed to carry large amounts of cargo on the nation’s highways. However, at the beginning and end of a truck driver’s journey, he or she will at some point have to drive on smaller surface streets.

Going to SchoolDriving on small city streets can present difficulties for many truck drivers, whose rigs may be upwards of 70 feet long and may consist of several trailers being towed by a single truck. For example, many city intersections are much smaller than truck drivers are used to navigating, and they may require special maneuvers to safely negotiate them. In addition, the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists presents additional hazards that truck drivers must take precautions to avoid.

Despite the additional difficulties of driving on smaller roads, truck drivers remain responsible for safely operating their vehicles and may be held liable when they cause an accident on city streets. Of course, some accidents may be unavoidable even with the exercise of due caution, and truck drivers are not likely to be responsible for these. However, when a truck driver’s negligence or inexperience results in an accident, the truck driver – and potentially their employer – may be held liable for any injuries that result.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a case brought by a woman injured in a bus accident against the bus line. In the case, Gee v. Greyhound Lines, the court determined that a procedural mistake made by the plaintiff’s attorney was excusable and that the trial judge did not err when he allowed the plaintiff to remedy the mistake and proceed with the lawsuit.

School BusThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger who was injured on a Greyhound bus after the bus was involved in a crash. According to the court’s opinion, the bus struck two cars and then crashed into a tree. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the bus line, claiming that the bus driver was “driving at an excessive rate of speed” immediately prior to the collision.

Initially, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit in Sacramento County. However, the defendant successfully petitioned the court to transfer the case to Fresno County. As a result of the transfer, the plaintiff’s attorney was responsible to pay an additional filing fee.

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Earlier this month, a tragic school bus accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee claimed the lives of six children and injured many others. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the driver of the bus has been arrested on vehicular homicide charges.

Kids Boarding BusThe accident occurred after school on the students’ ride home. Evidently, the bus driver was operating the vehicle at a high rate of speed on a road that was not a part of the driver’s route when he lost control of the bus and struck a tree. The force from the collision was so great that it bent the bus in half upon impact.

The Bus Driver Had a Checkered Driving History

According to the most recent news report covering the accident, the school bus driver had been the subject of several student and parent complaints in the past. In fact, there were reports that the driver had been driving too fast, had become agitated and aggressive with students, and had even intentionally come to a quick stop to make the students fall out of their seats. The driver had also been involved in another school bus accident just two months before.

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Earlier this month, an interestingly nuanced decision was released in the case of Irving v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. In the case, a state supreme court determined that a “school activity bus” transporting students to a sporting event was not to be considered a “school bus” for the purposes of the state’s Tort Claims Act. Thus, a plaintiff who was injured in an accident involving a school activity bus will not be permitted to recover compensation for her injuries, based on the state’s sovereign immunity.

school-bus-1256391Irving v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education:  The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by a bus carrying students to a football game. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver of the bus, who was an employee of the Board of Education. In response to the lawsuit, the Board of Education asked the court to dismiss the case, based on its sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is an old legal doctrine that is still in effect today. Simply said, the doctrine states that governments cannot be held liable for personal injury accidents unless they consent to being named in the lawsuit.

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Earlier this month in Marbury, about 30 miles south of Washington DC, a school bus accident sent several students to the hospital as well as several others. According to a report by Reuters, the accident occurred about a mile away from school, when the school bus rear-ended another vehicle.

bus-604402-mAfter the initial accident, a series of chain-reaction accidents ensued, causing the total number of vehicles involved to increase to five. In all, 16 students were taken to the hospital, and two adult drivers were also taken in with various injuries. The driver of the school bus was one of those taken to the hospital.

Only three of the students reported having any kind of injury, and the rest of the students were taken in merely as a precaution. The exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.
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Earlier this week in Deland, Florida, a semi-truck rear-ended a car that was coming to a stop in front of the truck, pushing the car into traffic and ultimately severely injuring the driver. According to a report by a local news affiliate, the accident also involved a school bus. Three vehicles in all were involved.

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Evidently, the driver of a Toyota pick-up truck was driving southbound and was slowing down for a school bus that was traveling westbound and was dropping children off. A semi-truck driver approached from the rear end of the Toyota. Apparently, he did not come to a complete stop before he ran into the back of the Toyota. The truck was then pushed across several lanes of traffic into the path of the school bus. The right side of the Toyota collided with the front of the bus.

Of the 14 students who were aboard the bus, two were treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Toyota truck was taken to the hospital with serious injuries but is expected to recover. The Florida Highway Patrol commented that it may charge the driver of the semi-truck with a moving violation for his role in the serious truck accident.

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Earlier this week in New York, a tractor-trailer rolled through a stop sign and collided with a school bus. According to a report by a local news source, the accident occurred shortly after 8:30 a.m. Thankfully, the bus driver had just dropped off the students at school, leaving the bus empty except for the driver.

school-bus-red-light-655548-m.jpgEvidently, the tractor-trailer did not stop at a stop sign and collided with the school bus, which was traveling on a road that did not have a stop sign. The immense force of the crash actually pushed the school bus in the opposite direction and caused incredible damage to the vehicle. So much, in fact, that the driver of the bus needed to be extricated from the wreckage by emergency personnel. The driver was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The driver of the tractor-trailer was uninjured in the accident.

At this point, police do not believe that drugs or alcohol had anything to do with the accident; however it is still under an ongoing investigation. Residents in the area told reporters that the intersection where the accident occurred is a dangerous one, pointing to a 2009 fatal car accident that took the life of a 33 year-old man.

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Last week, ten people lost their lives in Orland, California, when a Fed Ex truck crossed the center median of the highway and got into a head on collision with a bus full of high school students on their way to visit a northern California university. According to a story by the Huffington Post, the bus was head north from Los Angeles to Humboldt State University, when it was involved in the tragic truck accident.

school-bus-793842-m.jpgOnce the two vehicles collided, students, counselors, and chaperones all tried to escape the bus before it caught fire and eventually exploded. Most of the 44 aboard made it out of the bus alive, however, nine aboard the bus did not. The driver of the Fed Ex truck was also killed in the accident.

The bus was taking low-income, high-achieving high-school seniors on a trip to visit the college campus. Two other busses from the Los Angeles area arrived safely at Humboldt State.

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