Articles Posted in School Bus Accidents

Sending a child to school on a school bus is a fact of life for many Maryland parents. Indeed, school buses make it possible for the children of busy parents to get to and from school. However, while school buses are by and large a safe means of transportation, there are many Maryland school bus accidents each year.

School buses themselves do a reasonably good job of keeping students safe, even in the event of an accident. However, this is not the case when students are not correctly sitting in a designated seat. According to a recent news report, several students spoke up after the bus they were riding in was involved in a traffic accident.

Evidently, one student told reporters that the bus was so packed that some students were sitting on the floor. She explained that the bus was often so crowded that there would be three students to a seat. Some students who did not want to be crammed into the seat, would not allow other students to sit with them, forcing them to sit on the floor. She also explained that it was common for students to ride with their legs in the aisle because there was no room to sit facing forward.

As a general rule, the law imposes a duty on all motorists to drive in a safe, reasonable, and law-abiding manner. When a motorist violates this duty, and injures someone as a result, the accident victim can often pursue a claim for compensation. Bus drivers are no exception, and when a student is injured in a Maryland school bus accident, parents may have a claim against the driver or their employer.

Bus drivers, however, are often employed by the school district, making them government employees. Because of this, Maryland school bus accident cases are often brought against the government, and implicate the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA). Unlike other states’ tort claims acts, the MTCA broadly waives government immunity, allowing injury victims to pursue a broad range of claims against government entities. However, claims under the MTCA are subject to strict procedural requirements and also to a damages cap. As of October 2015, recovery in an MTCA claim is limited to $400,000 per accident victim and a total of $800,000 per accident.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a tragic bus accident that resulted in the student’s death. According to the court’s opinion, the bus driver stopped the bus across the street from the student’s home. The driver turned on the vehicle’s flashing lights, and lowered the “stop” arm and crossing gate. The student exited the bus as the bus driver told him, “see you tomorrow.”

When parents allow their children to take the bus to school, they assume that the bus driver will get their children safely to and from school. Indeed, for the most part, school bus drivers are highly qualified drivers; however, even experienced drivers can occasionally make mistakes.

Earlier this month, a group of Maryland students were involved in a Maryland school bus accident in Schuylkill County. According to a local news report, the accident occurred around 9:45 in the morning as the students were on their way to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Evidently, the bus was on the highway when the driver noticed that a vehicle ahead had come to a stop. The driver of the bus attempted to swerve around the stopped vehicle, but ended up crashing into a propane tanker.

The bus, which was chartered by the school, contained 52 occupants, including 47 students, the driver, and four adult chaperones. Authorities reported that bus driver and two students sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the accident.

Maryland railroad accidents are more common than most people believe. While trains are not as ubiquitous as they once were in the United States, there is still a significant amount of cargo that is transported across the country by train. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 150,000 miles of active train tracks in the U.S. Much of this track is concentrated around the eastern seaboard, making Maryland a hub for railroad activity.

In addition to active train tracks, there are tens of thousands of miles of unused or abandoned tracks. And while most intersections between train tracks and roads are marked with signage or gates, that is not always the case. This can create confusion for a motorist who may not know if railroad tracks are active. Of course, when a motorist encounters an unfamiliar intersection with railroad tracks, it is always best for that motorist to slow down and check both ways before proceeding across the tracks.

Determining who is at fault in a Maryland train accident can be tricky, and depends heavily on the circumstances of the accident. While not all intersections with railroad tracks are required to have flashing lights or lowering arms, all intersections should be marked appropriately. If gates or lights have been installed, however, they should be adequately maintained. Additionally, the area immediately around the railroad track should be clear of foliage and debris to allow motorists to see if a train is approaching.

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Each day, thousands of students ride Maryland school buses to and from school. For the most part, these trips are short and uneventful. However, each year there are a significant number of Maryland school bus accidents. While most of these accidents involve low speeds and do not result in serious injury to the students, that is not always the case.

Student Killed in Bus Accident on the Way Home from Championship Football Game

Earlier this month, a fatal bus accident in Arkansas claimed the life of one student and injured 45 others. According to a local news report, the accident occurred on an empty highway at around 2:40 in the morning.

Evidently, the bus was carrying a youth-football team that had played a championship game earlier that weekend. The bus departed from Dallas, Texas and was traveling back to Memphis Tennessee. After the accident, the driver of the bus told police that she lost control of the vehicle as it drifted off the side of the road. Once off the roadway, the bus rolled over onto its side. One nine-year-old boy died from the injuries he sustained in the accident, and 45 others were injured. Most of those on board the bus were children; however, there were a few adult chaperones.

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Picking up the phone to hear that a child has been involved in any kind of accident at school is a parent’s worst nightmare. Teachers and school administrators are charged with keeping students safe and, for the most part, do a pretty good job. However, getting children to and from school is beyond the control of administrators and rests with bus drivers who are often contracted out by the school district.

Liability in School Bus Accidents

Determining liability in a Maryland school bus accident, like any other traffic accident, requires an analysis of all potentially liable parties. Of course, when the accident involves other vehicles, the drivers of those vehicles would be considered, as well as the driver of the bus. However, there are often other third parties that should be considered as defendants.

School bus drivers may be government employees that are hired and trained by the school district. If this is the case, then the local government is responsible for making sure that drivers are qualified before they are hired. Similarly, a driver must also be provided with adequate training and oversight. An accident caused by a negligent bus driver who is employed by the school district could result in the district being held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Importantly, a school bus accident claim filed against a school district or other government entity must comply with the requirements for complaints filed against a government entity.

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A Maryland school bus accident is one of the biggest fears for parents whose children take the bus to school every day. And given that Maryland school buses are not equipped with seat belts, even accidents on rural and suburban roads can lead to devastating consequences. Of course, when a bus route takes students on the highway, the risk of a serious bus accident increases drastically. As a general matter, school bus drivers owe a duty of care not just to the students on board the bus, but also to other motorists on the road. When a school bus driver’s negligence causes an accident that results in injuries to either the students on the bus or to other motorists, the injured parties may be able to pursue a Maryland personal injury claim against one or more parties.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, it may be appropriate to name one or more of the following parties: the bus driver, the school or school district, the bus manufacturer, as well as any independent contractor that may be involved in the hiring, training, or employment of the bus driver. Determining which parties should be named in a Maryland school bus accident should be left to a Maryland personal injury attorney with experience handling these particular claims.

Dozens Injured, Including Several Students, in Recent Bus Accident

Last week, dozens were injured in a single-vehicle school bus accident that occurred while the students were on their way to Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. According to a local news report, the bus was carrying 24 students – all girls – and several administrators when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Evidently, after the driver lost control of the bus, it flipped over and slid off the highway onto the grassy median along the side of the road.

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While every precaution can be taken to avoid a Maryland school bus accident, some accidents may be unforeseeable. In fact, earlier this year two people were killed and dozens other injured when a school bus attempted to make a legal U-turn across three lanes of traffic. According to a local news report, the bus was traveling in a caravan with two other busses when the drivers missed an exit. Afterwards, all three drivers determined their own route to get to the final destination.

One of the busses attempted to make a U-turn on the highway. However, a dump truck rear-ended the school bus as it tried to cross three lanes of perpendicular traffic to complete its turn. The impact of the collision tore the bus off of its frame.

In the wake of this fatal accident, lawmakers have begun a push to install three-point seatbelts – similar to those found in cars – in all district school busses. Lawmakers believe that by installing seatbelts in school busses, the chance of an accident resulting in serious injury or death will be greatly decreased. Indeed, in the days following this specific accident the National Transportation Safety Board announced its recommendation that all school busses should be equipped with some type of seatbelt for students.

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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.

After 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.

Due 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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