School Bus Accidents
Every day millions of kids ride to and from class or to sponsored extracurricular activities in school buses. Parents expect that schools will maintain their buses regularly and that bus drivers will follow all necessary precautions to protect their children so they arrive at school safely. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, from 2003 to 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited 1,214 deaths from transportation accidents involving school vehicles. On average 134 people die in school-vehicle-related crashes annually.
If you or a loved one were injured in a crash involving a school bus or other school transportation vehicle, it is critical to contact an experienced attorney immediately. Because public schools are governmental entities, and because liability for school-bus-related crashes can be difficult to determine, you need a lawyer to examine the unique facts of your case to help outline the best course of action.
Lawyer for School Bus Accidents in Atlanta, GA
We have been fighting for maximum compensation for personal injury victims throughout Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Through our experience, we have the skill and knowledge necessary to bring a successful suit.
We have worked with clients in Marietta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, Dunwoody, Duluth, East Point, Norcross, Forest Park, Smyrna, Riverdale, Milton, Decatur, College Park, and elsewhere in Fulton County, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, Clayton County and DeKalb County. Timing can be crucial, so don’t wait. Call (404) 445-2005 today to speak with us. The first consultation is free.
Overview of School Bus Accident Law
- Legal Standards for School Bus Accidents
- Sovereign Immunity in School Bus Accidents
- Determining Liability in a School Bus Accident
- Additional Resources
Legal Standards for School Bus Accidents
In personal injury and wrongful death suits, courts apply a legal standard called negligence. Under this doctrine, a defendant acted negligently if they owed a “duty” of care to someone (such as the passengers on a bus or others on the road), and by acting or failing to act in a certain way, “breached” that duty. If an injury is found to have resulted from the breach of a duty of care, a defendant can be held liable.
If you win a personal injury case, you will be given a monetary award based on your settlement. Damages are awarded based on what has happened to you as a result of the defendant’s negligence. A potential settlement or award may include compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages from missing or being unable to work, and medical expenses.
Sovereign Immunity in School Bus Accidents
Typically, government entities such as schools cannot be sued because of a concept called sovereign immunity. This is designed to allow governments to function fully without fear that they will be subject to lawsuits while engaging in official duties. However, state legislatures can waive immunity and allow the government to be sued in certain circumstances.
School bus accidents fall under this exception in Georgia. Title 36, Chapter 92 of the Georgia Code, entitled Waiver of Immunity for Motor Vehicle Claims, provides that for bus accident incidents occurring after January 1st 2008, schools may be sued up to $500,000 for injuries and deaths involving one person, and for a total of $700,000 if two or more persons were hurt or killed due to a school bus accident.
Determining Liability in a School Bus Accident
Determining who is liable after a school bus accident can be a complex legal issue that should be handled by a competent attorney. Depending on the facts of a particular case, other drivers on the road, the school board, a company contracted to perform mechanical maintenance on the bus, or even the manufacturer of the bus itself may be liable.
Note that under O.C.G.A. Sec. 36-92-3, bus drivers themselves cannot be held personally liable. Instead, the government entity they were employed by, such as the school board, will be held vicariously liable because they didn’t hire effectively or establish proper safety protocols.
If an inherent defect, such as a manufacturing flaw that was not the school’s duty to fix, is found to be to blame for an accident, you may have a product liability case. This is because manufacturers must ensure that their products are tested and safe for use by the general public. Additionally, they must follow school bus regulations set forth by the Georgia Statutes.
If you were an employee of a school and were injured, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. An experienced attorney can assist you in weighing your options and selecting the best course of action.
School Bus Driver Training Manual, Georgia Department of Education Pupil Transportation Division – Government document about school bus driver safety. Designed to make rides on school buses safer. Gives some information about best practices and what can go wrong.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Facts – School-Transportation-Related Crashes – A factsheet about school bus accidents in PDF format. Several pertinent statistics are tabulated here. The factsheet includes data about mortality and types of crashes.
School Bus Accident Attorney in Georgia
The Balams Firm has experience representing clients throughout the greater Atlanta metropolitan area and other areas of Georgia in many similar cases where death or injury has occurred. We have worked on many personal injury and product liability cases arising from many different kinds of injuries.
We have the skill and knowledge that are needed to tackle these difficult cases, and if you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a school bus accident, we will fight for the full compensation you deserve. Call (404) 445-2005 for a free consultation.