Liability in school bus crashes: Three questions answered
t is a tragic story that continues to unfold. A school bus full of our community’s youth heading home after a full day of school. 37 children were riding the bus as it sped through a narrow two-lane roadway before the driver lost control and struck a tree. 31 of these children were taken to the hospital. Six were killed due to the injuries they suffered in this crash.
The driver of the bus was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Although these criminal charges will serve to help hold the driver accountable for his actions, it may not be enough for the victims.
What about the victims? Victims of these and similar accidents may find that holding the guilty party accountable for his or her actions helps in the mental healing process – but it is important to note that the mental healing process is only one part of the whole.
If physical healing is also needed, hospital care may be required. This comes with a cost, a cost that is often footed by the victim but may ultimately be the responsibility of the party who caused the injuries.
How can victims hold those who caused the accident responsible for the cost of the crash? Depending on the details of the accident, a civil lawsuit may be one avenue to hold the guilty party responsible for the costs associated with the accident. This can lead to a monetary award to help cover costs like medical bills, lab tests, rehabilitation, prescriptions and lost wages.
Who can be held liable for these types of accidents? Unfortunately, the “who” in this equation can be complicated. In some cases, certain immunities may apply. Government workers like county employees, for example, may not be immune from accountability through a civil suit.
The employer is generally the key in these situations. In this specific accident, it appears that the driver was an employee of a Durham School Services, a company that was contracted to provide busing services to the school district. As such, he can likely be held accountable through a civil suit.
It is important to note that it is also likely that his employer could be held liable as well.
These are just a few of the many considerations to be taken into account when injured in a busing accident like the tragic accident in Chattanooga. Due to the complex nature of these suits, it is wise for victims to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.