Articles Posted in School Bus Accidents

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.

The 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.

The 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.

Irving 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.

After 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.

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.

Evidently, 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.

Once 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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At any one time, children represent both a precious commodity as well as one of the most vulnerable assets any family has. As many parents will attest, having kids is a joy like no other, but the worry and concern, not to mention the responsibility, that comes with parenthood can be unnerving to some, if not all mothers and fathers. In the home, we can watch over youngsters, though even the safest household can be fraught with hidden dangers. But when children start to play with friend outside, or begin their school careers, parents must relinquish much of the control they once had to others in whom they must place all of their trust.

For kids who ride on school buses, they can face possible injury should there be a mistake on the part of any number of motorists, truck drivers or operators of large commercial vehicles. We won’t even go into the potential for disaster should a safety-related vehicle component fail while a bus is traveling at highway speeds. The point here, at least from our standpoint as Baltimore personal injury attorneys, is that a bus accident can affect not just one person, but many; not just one child but children of multiple families.

Large commercial vehicles, such as buses, many times are very tall, overall. While this allows the occupants to conveniently move around inside the vehicle, it also results in a much higher center of gravity; sometimes dangerously so. Unlike passenger cars and even sport utility vehicles, which themselves can be prone to rollover-type crashes given the right circumstances, school buses and commercial tour buses, as well as municipal commuter buses, can be hard to control under emergency situations.

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As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues recognize that not everyone can avoid exposing themselves to the many and varied dangers out there on our public roads and highways. This is why we always warn friends and associates to be all the more cautious when driving in dense traffic or taking public transportation.

Naturally, as a motorist, one has more control over any given driving situation than a person who is riding as an occupant of a commuter train, municipal shuttle or school bus. And although passenger car occupants are in a smaller vehicle, they also have the advantage of seatbelts and airbags to protect them in a crash; the same cannot be said for most bus riders. We won’t go into the dangers associated with motorcycle accidents here, but even with a helmet on bikers have less protection overall than commuters on a city bus or a driver in a small economy car.

This latter category is particularly concerning, since children are very precious to their parents and relatives, yet as they get older and begin going to school, they are more and more out of their parents’ control. This is why we believe that the potential for school bus accidents, whether during normal school hours or on extended field trips and traveling to sporting events, can weigh particularly heavy on parents and guardians.

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Examples of roadway collisions can be found almost every day across this state. As the fifth most densely populated state in the Union, it shouldn’t be too shocking to read of car, truck and motorcycle wrecks happening all across Maryland every month. Still, being actually involved in one may bring the pain home.

Injuries ranging from simple bumps and bruises to broken bones, internal injuries and closed-head trauma are quite common in and around the state’s urban areas, not to mention our highways. There are few if any excuses one could think of for causing serious injury to another individual, and less so in cases of a fatal automobile accident.

As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, I and my staff of experienced legal professionals believe are dedicated to fighting for the rights of our clients following a car or trucking-related traffic accident. Whether one is injured in Gaithersburg, Columbia, Washington, D.C., or Bowie, the personal injury laws of this state give victims certain rights to pursue recompense for their injuries, emotional distress, current and future medical treatment and necessary rehabilitation.

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