It is a headline that no parent wants to read in their morning news briefing: a school bus was involved in accident. In fact, no person wants to believe that children and students are anything but safe when being transported to and from home to the classroom, sporting events or other extracurricular activities. The reality, however, is that school buses and other transportation for students use the same highways and roadways as we do in our everyday commutes. Merely because a school bus is brightly colored or marked does not mean that it is immune from the dangers caused by careless or reckless drivers.
School Bus and Seat Belts
One unique aspect of crashes involving school buses that is not typically found in everyday car accidents is the fact that the individuals inside the bus are typically unrestrained. While recent laws in some states have required that school buses be equipped with safety belts, as many school districts have found, enforcement of the seat belt laws is nearly impossible when it comes to a bus full of children. Regardless of the warnings that students receive about the dangers of riding in a motor vehicle without a safety belt, many do not listen until it is too late. Seat belts for school buses are not mandatory under Illinois law, but that does not mean the driver and/or the school district is off the hook for the safety of those entrusted into their care.
Fault Issues and Liability
In many school districts, the district owns the buses that are used to transport students. However, some districts contract their transportation services out to private companies. Determining who is liable for victims’ damages in the event of an accident should first begin with an inquiry into ownership of the buses and any agreements involving the school in this regard. Another consideration when attempting to recover damages for injured victims and their families is whether the driver of the bus was acting in accordance with applicable standards at the time of the accident. Questions that should be asked include those that delve into the driver’s driving record, training that he or she has received, and whether he or she was distracted at the time the accident occurred. One additional consideration that can be overlooked in the moments after an accident involving a school bus is whether the bus itself was in proper working order at the time of the crash. Investigating the maintenance records for the individual bus can be key to a later determination of liability.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a school bus, call someone who can answer your questions and help you obtain the relief you need to put your life back on track. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Woodstock are experienced in Illinois laws governing auto accidents and can provide you advice, or representation if necessary. Nobody wants to think about their child being injured in an accident, but the moments and days following a crash can be crucial to ensuring that they receive the immediate care they need as well as what they may need in the future.