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What Can a School Bus Accident Attorney Do for You?

If you are the parent or guardian of a minor involved in a school bus accident, it would be a bad idea to manage your claim without an attorney.  Injury cases that involve school buses can be incredibly complex and it is difficult to prove negligence and liability.  The responsible parties will most certainly have legal representation-you should too.   A personal injury attorney with experience in school bus accidents can help the victims receive fair financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess have experience handling school bus accident cases in the Baton Rouge area.  Call 225-922-4416 to schedule a free consultation.

School Transportation-Related Crashes

children injured in school bus accident

A school bus collision is an accident which involves, a school bus or school-owned vehicle, or a non- bus operating as a school bus, transporting kids for school-related activities.

On average, 20 school-age children die each year in school bus–related crashes or incidents. Of these 20, five of the children are injured inside the bus, five are struck by other vehicles, and 10 are struck by the school bus itself. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, over 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million school-aged children to and from school and school-related activities or field trips.

Possible Causes of School Bus Accidents

  • Driver inattention
  • Improperly trained driver
  • Bus malfunction
  • Poor maintenance and upkeep of the school bus

Fatal School Bus Accident Statistics

serious school bus crashes

  •  20 to 25 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year.
  • 10 school-age pedestrians are killed by school transportation vehicles (school buses and non-school bus vehicles used as school buses) each year, and 4 are killed by other vehicles involved in school bus-related crashes.
  • 16 children are fatally injured as pedestrians in the loading & unloading zone around school buses annually.
  • More school-age pedestrians have been killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day.
  • 73% of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in crashes were struck by a school bus or a vehicle functioning as a school bus, while 27 percent were struck by a vehicle of another body type.

School Bus Injury Statistics

  • Between 1900 and 2000 there were more than 175 train vs. school bus collisions known to have occurred.
  • According to the National Safety Council, the national school bus accident rate is 0.01 per 100 million miles traveled, compared to 0.04 for trains, 0.06 for commercial aviation and 0.96 for other passenger vehicles.
  • NHTSA calculated that 4% of the school bus-related injuries to are severe (i.e. broken bones or worse) based on the medical community’s widely accepted AIS or Abbreviated Injury Scale.
  • Greater than half of school bus crashes (56%) involve at least one other motor vehicle.
  • In the majority of school transportation crashes the front of the bus is the main point of impact.
  • The average school bus transports 54 student passengers.

School Bus Accident Investigation

school bus roll over accident

Ideally the school bus accident investigation should begin immediately after the crash. The memory of all involved may deteriorate over time.  Investigations are required to determine fault which may be due to failure to comply with safety regulations, policies and procedures or vehicle failure.  In addition to determining fault, the primary reasons to do a thorough investigation of school bus accident is to prevent future accidents of identical or similar nature.  Furthermore, accident investigations usually draw focus on ‘hidden’ safety issues that can be added to safety features and/or training in the future.

School bus accidents are possibly the most carefully scrutinized motor vehicle accidents.  In most cases there are multiple groups/agencies conducting their own investigations:

  • The local/responding police department.
  • The bus driver will write an on-scene “incident/accident report”.
  • The school district will most likely send a supervisor to create a “supervisor’s crash report”.
  • The bus contractor will conduct their own internal investigation.
  • The attorneys representing injury victims may hire their own private investigator.
  • The insurance companies that represent any defendants in the case may hire their own private investigator.
  • The lawyers representing the accident victims may hire accident reconstruction expert.
  • The insurance companies that represent any possible defendants in the case may hire their own accident reconstruction expert.

School Bus Types / Configurations

  • Type A – Cutaway Van – These are the smallest-sized bus typical passenger capacity ranges from 30-36 passengers.
  • Type B – Integrated – These buses are slightly larger than Type A buses but also hold from 30-36 passengers.
  • Type C – Conventional Bus– These buses are constructed from a bus body mounted on a medium duty truck chassis.  Typical passenger capacity ranges from 36-78 passengers.
  • Type D – Transit Bus – These buses are constructed from a bus body mounted to a separate chassis.  Typical passenger capacity ranges from 54-90 passengers.

Non-Conforming Vans Used For Student Transportation

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is a federal law passed in 2005 that prohibits nonconforming vans in school bus transportation and closes a loophole that previously only penalized dealerships from selling the vehicles to school districts.  In June 2006 a study by the National Transportation Safety Board found that a majority of states have failed to take any action in following up on SAFETEA-LU.

Student Transportation Safety Issues

  • Lack of seat-belts on school buses.
  • School bus capacity concerns.
  • Number of students per seat.
  • Driver training.
  • School bus outsourcing.

School buses are perhaps the most regulated segment of the transportation industry.  However, the federal government only regulates the industry at the manufacturing level. But federal jurisdiction only prevails until the becomes operational and enters into active transportation of students.  At that point regulations becomes the responsibility of the state, until the school bus crosses state lines for a school activity or field trip.  Then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has jurisdiction.

States nationwide have extensive school bus regulations, typically in their motor vehicle laws and also education laws.  In addition, school districts, as public entities, typically have extensive policies governing their school bus operations. These policies reflect both federal and state laws.