Seven Common Causes of School Bus Accidents
The school bus driver or another motorist's negligence causes most school bus wrecks. To prove your child’s case, you must determine why the crash occurred and who the at-fault party was. Leading reasons school bus collisions happen include the following:
- Speeding. Speeding is a common cause of school bus accidents. It will take longer for a motor vehicle or school bus driver to stop to avoid a crash when they are speeding. This is especially true for a much larger school bus. Unfortunately, the injuries children on the bus suffer can be more severe due to the greater force of impact when speeding vehicles collide.
- Intoxication. If the school bus driver or car driver is intoxicated, their reaction time, vision, and judgment will be seriously impaired. They are much more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as reckless driving, weaving between lanes, and tailgating the vehicle in front of them when they are drunk or high.
- Drowsy driving. Driving when fatigued is dangerous in similar ways to drunk driving. School bus drivers often drive long hours and need a second job to support themselves and their families, making it more likely that they will cause a wreck while fighting to stay awake or falling asleep at the wheel.
- Distractions. Distractions, like talking on a cellphone, texting, or fiddling with instrument controls, are dangerous for any driver. However, the consequences can be deadly when the school bus driver engages in distracted driving. In addition, school bus drivers can become easily distracted by the kids on the bus if they do not focus on their driving.
- School bus driver inexperience. Driving a school bus safely requires training and experience. Unfortunately, school districts fail to properly train or supervise bus drivers, especially when they face difficulty hiring enough drivers. They could face liability if their negligent hiring practices caused the wreck.
- Bus lack of maintenance. School districts have a duty to maintain their school buses in a safe condition and not allow buses in need of repairs onto the roads. When they breach this duty, the brakes, tires, steering wheel, or other bus parts could fail and lead to a tragic bus accident.
- Not driving for weather conditions. Bus drivers and other motorists must slow down—even below the speed limit—when fog, rain, or other weather conditions make driving more dangerous. Speeding and engaging in distracted driving are a few ways they cause crashes in bad weather.
Three Crucial Steps to Take if Your Child Was Injured in a School Bus Crash
If your child was hurt in a collision while riding a school bus, they are relying on you to pursue their claim for compensation. Here are three essential steps you should take immediately:
- Seek prompt medical care. You should have your child examined by a physician within 72 hours of the crash—even if you do not believe they were hurt. Obtaining prompt medical treatment protects their health and avoids disputes with the insurance company about their injuries’ cause or severity.
- Obtain the police report. You should order a copy of the police report. It will provide important information, such as details on how the collision occurred, drivers’ and witnesses’ statements, and the officer’s conclusions about who caused the crash. This could also lead to other evidence, such as photos of the crash scene and the damages to the bus and other vehicles involved in the crash.
- Retain a lawyer. You should hire an experienced car accident attorney to file your child’s insurance claim as soon as possible. They will collect the evidence you need to prove your child’s case and go up against the insurance company so your child receives all the compensation they deserve for their injuries. It is important to retain a lawyer who also understands the special procedures that must be followed in California when settling a minor child’s case.