School Bus Accidents: A Quick Guide
Someone looking for a top bus accident lawyer Silver Spring MD has to offer may already know that school bus accidents can be particularly traumatic. For the young passengers riding a school bus when an accident occurs, the physical injuries and mental trauma of the incident can be incredibly damaging. For the parents of those children, the situation might seem like a real-life nightmare. And for the drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved in a school bus accident, the aftermath of a bus accident could seem just as terrible as the crash itself.
At Cohen and Cohen, P.C., our lawyers understand that school bus accidents can be very difficult to discuss. However, if the situation should occur, we also know that having a bus accident lawyer Silver Spring MD can trust is essential.
School Transportation Crashes: An Overview
Although school bus accidents typically do not make up a big percentage of traffic accident incidents in a typical year, the crashes that do occur can be very traumatic. According to 2014 data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the 10-year period from 2005 to 2014, there were 331,730 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. and .4% of these crashes were classified as involving school transportation vehicles. There were 1,332 people killed in school bus accidents over the past 10 years, averaging 133 fatalities per year.
In the majority of school bus accident fatalities, the injured persons were occupants of vehicles other than the bus. Data shows that 71% of victims were occupants of other vehicles involved in the school bus crash, 21% of victims were nonoccupants (e.g., pedestrians and bicyclists) involved in the crash, and 8% were occupants of the bus involved.
These statistics, however, do not show the number of injuries that occur in the typical school bus crash. Even when students aboard the bus do not suffer from fatal injuries, they could still suffer from disabling injuries long after the incident occurs. For this reason, an injured person might wish to seek legal counsel from a top bus accident lawyer Wheaton MD has to offer before seeking an injury settlement.
Who could be held liable?
As a skilled bus accident lawyer Silver Spring MD can provide should know, bus accidents can be very complex when liability is unclear. If the accident was clearly caused by another driver, then injured claimants will likely seek damages from that driver’s insurance provider. If the accident was caused by the bus driver, he or she might be held liable for the crash.
However, other parties could potentially be held accountable for a bus accident as well. If an individual has suffered a grave injury and wishes to seek a higher settlement than what the driver’s insurance plan can offer, or if the driver was not entirely negligent during an accident, the claimant might wish to seek damages from other parties. These cases could become complex very quickly and claimants might benefit from working with an experienced bus accident lawyer Silver Spring MD has to offer.
If the accident involves a bus owned and operated by a school district, the district itself could potentially be held liable. Some schools and organizations do not actually own the buses but instead hire independent transportation companies to transport students; in this situation, the company that owns the bus and employs the driver could potentially be held liable.
If the accident was caused by a faulty piece of equipment, several other parties may be held liable. If the piece of equipment was fundamentally flawed, the company that designed the part or manufactured the part might be held responsible. The company that manufactured or sold the entire vehicle could also face partial responsibility. If the faulty part fell into disrepair and could have been fixed or replaced, the owner of the bus or the maintenance service that inspected the bus might be responsible.
In all of these cases, if an injured claimant wishes to seek financial compensation, it will be important to prove liability and negligence. This is where the legal processes can become very difficult, and why so many injured claimants choose to seek legal counsel from a top bus accident lawyer Wheaton MD depends on.
Unique Issues in School Bus Accident Claims
Depending on the circumstances, injured claimants may have to file their claim with a government-owned entity: a school district. The process of filing a settlement with a government organization can be very difficult because the organization might be protected under certain laws or through specific insurance policies.
Government bodies, such as a public school district, generally still have insurance policies for these types of accidents, just as any other private organization or individual would have (or should have) auto insurance coverage. However, as a seasoned bus accident lawyer Wheaton MD might know, insurance companies are not always willing to provide claimants with reasonable settlements without a fight. If the insurer denies a claimant’s settlement, the injured person may need to file a notice of claim with the government-owned school district before pursuing an injury lawsuit with the assistance of a bus accident lawyer in Silver Spring MD. To make the situation more complicated, local municipalities may have a certain statute of limitations that places a time limit on when claims — and notices of claims — can be filed. It is essential for claimants to abide by these deadlines when seeking a settlement; otherwise, the school district may not be held responsible for the damages they caused.
Contact a Silver Spring MD Bus Accident Lawyer After a School Bus Accident Injury
If you or your child have been injured in an accident involving a school bus, you may rightfully be owed compensation for those injuries. While a financial settlement might not be able to repair all of the damages caused by a school bus accident, this compensation may be able to help families find some peace of mind during a difficult time.
At Cohen and Cohen, P.C., our legal team is willing to work with individuals whose families have been harmed by a school bus accident. For more information about how we have helped injury victims win settlements, or to schedule a free case evaluation with a bus accident lawyer Wheaton MD residents trust, contact our local office today.