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.”