Last week, schools in Carrollton, Georgia began another year of classes. With parents driving their children to and from school, to sports and drama practices, and with school buses on the roads, commuting times have gotten busier and longer. With more vehicles on the roads there is a higher risk for accidents. As everyone adjusts to the increased traffic, it is important to use caution and allow extra time to get where you’re going. A cause of particular concern is accidents involving school buses. While fatalities on school buses are extremely rare, there is still a chance for serious injury when a school bus gets in an accident. Between the years 2003 to 2012, 174 children died when riding school related transportation (which includes buses, vans, and cars). This represents .4 percent of all traffic fatalities in the same time period, but is still significant enough to get its own designation by transit authorities. Just recently in Evans, Georgia, a bus driver received sustained injuries after crashing a school bus. The children were uninjured, but the driver of the other vehicle required medical treatment.
What Are the Different Types of School Bus Accidents?
Every accident is different but there are generally four main types of accidents involving school buses. The first type of bus accident is when the school bus hits another vehicle on the road way. When a bus hits another vehicle, typically there are only minor injuries for those on the bus and more serious injuries for those individuals who were driving or riding in the vehicle that was hit. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly three-fourths of deaths in school bus accidents come from a school bus rear-ending a stopped car. In this type of case the most typical claim would be an action for personal injury. If the accident is very serious it may result in a wrongful death action which would be brought on behalf of a family member.
A second type of accident that can occur with a school bus is when a bus hits a pedestrian. These types of accidents have the potential of causing very serious injuries or death. As terrible as it is to think about, children may not see a bus before they step into the street and may get hit by an oncoming bus. Unfortunately, accidents with pedestrians happen when mainly when the bus is driving straight ahead, rather than turning or swerving. 22 percent of school bus related deaths come from pedestrians being hit.
A third type of school bus accident is when the people riding the bus, both the driver, and children themselves are injured. These injuries can result from one of the above crash types or they can result because of a mechanical defect with the bus. While there are fewer injuries each year for those individuals who ride on the bus compared to other accident victims, those who do suffer injuries may suffer ones that have life altering consequences. Depending on the facts of the accident, personal injury claims will most likely be the primary way to seek recovery. However, the driver, as a school employee may also be able to make a claim for injuries through workers’ compensation.
A fourth type of accident is when there are no injuries on the bus, but damage occurs to the bus itself. For example, a bus may hit a pothole and break an axle but no one may get hurt. Generally, accidents that only have property damage will likely just give rise to a claim against the company or entity that insures the school bus.
What Can Drivers Do to Avoid Accidents With School Buses?
In 2014, Georgia was ranked as number one in the country for the number of school bus passing violations. The law in Georgia requires vehicles approaching a school bus from either direction to come to a complete stop if the bus puts out its flashing stop sign. The only exception is if there is a median in between two lanes of traffic. To help prevent drivers from passing stopped school busses, many counties in Georgia have begun installing cameras on the side of busses to catch drivers who break the law. The cameras have caught hundreds of people and raised considerable revenue for school districts. The tickets can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and points on a driver’s license.
To reduce the risk of an accident with a school bus it is important to always pay attention to a school bus nearby. As school buses stop frequently and have children enter and exit, allowing extra room can go a long way in preventing accidents. By staying on the lookout for areas of reduced speed such as in school zones and bus zones, you are more likely to avoid incidents causing injury.
Who Is Responsible in a School Bus Accident?
Like any motor vehicle accident, who is responsible will depend on a number of facts. Every case is different, but an experienced accident attorney can help you determine who is responsible. There may be claims against other drivers, the school bus driver, or even the school district. However, some schools even contract out to private companies to do the driving for their students. If the school bus driver is a county or city employee you will have to follow specific steps that are different than a regular case in order to provide the county with notice of your case.
Have You or a Child Been Injured in an Accident Involving a Georgia School Bus?
We trust school buses to get our children to and from school safely. In large part, school buses do just that. Compared to other auto accidents there are very few instances of school bus injuries. However, when injuries do happen, they can be serious. At The Law Office of John B. Jackson we have experience in getting clients the compensation they deserve after a school bus accident. Contact our dedicated Carrollton, GA auto accident attorneys today for a free consultation on your case.