Parents have a right to expect that when they put their children on the school bus in the morning, they will get to and from school safely. In the United States over 23 million children ride school buses, over 12,000 school-aged children are injured in school bus accidents each year.
Although riding the bus is still considered the safest way for a child to get to school, according to The Transportation Research Board, most school bus accidents cause serious or fatal injuries including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, and even burns.
Types of School Bus Accidents and Injuries
Not all school bus accidents are school bus crashes. Many school bus injuries occur on the bus, such as slip and fall injuries, as well as accidents that occur while children are boarding and exiting the school bus in what is called the school bus danger zone. In fact, the majority of school bus accidents occur when children are getting on and off the bus, these type of accidents usually involve another vehicle, however, two out of three children that are killed in these types of accidents are hit by the bus and not another vehicle.
There are many factors to consider in school bus accidents. First, many school buses are not required to have seat belts. Federal law requires seat belts on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds, but 80 percent of the nation’s school buses don’t fall into this category.
As a result, children are more likely to get injured when they fall out of their seats during a bus accident or when bus drivers brake suddenly or make sharp turns.
A key safety concept in full-sized school buses is called “compartmentalization.” The thickly padded bench seats are spaced close together and have high backs, creating a compartment that protects passengers in a collision.
The location of the bus stop and the children’s behavior at the bus stop often plays a role in school bus accidents. School bus accidents can be caused by a number of contributing factors such as driver error, bad weather conditions, dangerous roadways, improper bus maintenance or even defects in the school bus itself, school bus accidents can also be caused by the negligence of other drivers.
How Do These School Bus Accidents Happen?
These types of accidents can occur in any number of ways. The first, and most obvious, is bus driver error. Adding to the issue, many if not most buses are not equipped with seat belts, increasing the risk of injury to students. Just as in car accident cases, bus drivers have an obligation to drive reasonably, following the rules of the road. Further, when a bus driver stops, the approaching and following vehicles have a duty to stop for the school bus. Every year, children are harmed or killed when vehicles fail to abide by the rules.
To help keep your children safe, it is important to teach your children school bus safety. Here are some safety tips to share with your children.
Boarding the Bus
- Be on time for the bus to avoid running towards the bus.
- Stay a safe distance away from the road while waiting at the bus stop.
- Do not play or run around at the bus stop.
- Line up as the school bus approaches and wait until the bus stops to begin boarding the bus.
- Board the bus in an orderly fashion, one student at a time, use the handrail and do not push or shove.
On the Bus
- Remain in your seat, facing forward with your seat belt buckled, if a seat belt is available.
- Do not distract the bus driver. Do not scream, keep your voice low.
- Obey the bus driver’s instructions at all times.
- Keep your arms and head inside the bus, do not throw anything out of the window.
- Keep the aisles clear.
- Remain seated until the school bus comes to a complete stop.
Exiting the bus
- Walk to the front of the bus once the bus has come to a complete stop, do not push and use handrail.
- Do not play around the bus, do not reach under the bus.
- Always cross the street in front of the bus.
- Make eye contact with the bus driver and wait until the bus driver motions for you to cross the street.
- Before crossing the street, always look to the left, then the right, and then the left again.
- Walk across the street, do not run across the street.
- Always stay away from the rear of the bus and the wheels of the bus.
Depending on the nature of the school bus accident, and the underlying cause, one or more of the following may be held responsible:
- School bus driver
- School district
- Private school, church, or other organization which owned and operated the school bus
- Private company contracted to provide transportation for the school
- Third party contracted to repair and maintain the bus
- School bus manufacturer
- Parts manufacturer
- Driver of another vehicle
- Government entity responsible for roadway design, construction, and maintenance
Compensation for a school bus accident often depends on the severity of the injuries suffered. If the school bus involved in the accident was owned and operated by the public school district, you may be suing a government entity, which involves a different set of procedures and time limitations which can make the legal process even more complex.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, or a loved one killed, in a school bus accident, let our Rhode Island Attorney Island help you navigate the complex legal proceedings.
You’ll find the help you need at the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd., where we have been successfully representing people in personal injury cases in Providence for more than forty years.
Our attorneys have all been designated as “Super Lawyers” or “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers Magazine. Ronald J. Resmini has earned the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
We have won millions of dollars in successful verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are a top-notch Rhode Island Law Firm that knows how to defend complicated personal injury cases such as School Bus Accidents.
Call the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd. today to schedule your free consultation with a Rhode Island Attorney. Pick up the phone and call us now at (401) 751-8855.