A school bus crashed near Walt Disney World in Florida last week, injuring ten people, including nine students. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, the bus was transporting 50 students to school in the morning when it collided with a PT Cruiser. The driver of the PT Cruiser was also injured. Apparently, the bus driver tried to make a left turn and drove into the path of the other vehicle. The bus driver was given a ticket for violating the right of way. While it is unclear at this point whether any litigation will arise from the accident, it does raise some pertinent questions about school bus crash lawsuits.
Proving Fault in School Bus Crash Litigation
In order to successfully sue a school bus driver or school district over an accident, a plaintiff would likely have to prove that the bus driver was driving negligently. In some types of auto accidents, the driver is presumed to be at fault. The Florida bus crash would be an example of this, since the driver was cited for a traffic violation. Left-turn collisions are generally considered to be the fault of the driver making the left turn, because cars passing straight through the intersection usually have the right of way.
Establishing Whether the Bus Driver Is an Agent of the School
If the bus driver was acting as an agent of the school at the time of the accident, the school district could be held vicariously liable for the crash. The question for vicarious liability is whether the bus driver was acting within the scope of her employment. If she is on her lunch break or running a personal errand and gets in an accident, she would probably not be acting within the scope of her employment. In the Florida crash, the driver was transporting children to school on the bus and therefore was clearly acting within the scope of her employment. Any successful litigation against the bus driver would probably result in the school district also being held liable.
Following the Proper Procedures to Sue a Public School
Suing a public school district, or any government entity for that matter, can be an arduous, uphill battle. You may need to first file a tort claim with the appropriate government agency and await a response before you can move forward with a lawsuit. If you do not follow the exact requirements laid out by the law, you may lose your right to seek a remedy altogether. Even if you follow the correct steps, plaintiffs rarely prevail against defendant school districts, as schools tend to be viewed sympathetically by judges and juries.
What to Do if Your Child Is Killed or Injured in a School Bus Crash
If your child has been killed or injured in a school bus crash, and you are thinking about litigation, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.