Who Is Liable When a School Bus Causes a Car Crash?

Apr 28th, 2023 | Car Accident

The consequences of a school bus accident can be significant, affecting drivers, passengers, and children aboard the bus. Determining liability for the damages and injuries sustained is important for seeking appropriate compensation and addressing accountability.

To determine liability in a school bus accident, it is necessary to identify the cause of the collision. By working with an attorney, you can conduct a comprehensive investigation into the accident and identify the responsible party.

Common Causes of School Bus Crashes

Driver error is one of the most common causes of school bus accidents, and can include negligent actions like speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to obey traffic signals. In many cases, driver error is the result of poor training or a lack of experience.

Poor road conditions, such as potholes or lack of adequate signage, can also contribute to school bus accidents. A collision can also occur due to mechanical failure of the bus, such as a malfunctioning brake system. Finally, poor weather conditions, such as snow, rain, and fog, can reduce visibility and make it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles.

Determining Liability in Bus Accidents

When a school bus causes a car crash, determining liability can be a complex process. In many cases, multiple parties may be liable for the damages and injuries sustained in the accident:

  • School bus drivers: School bus drivers are responsible for operating the bus safely and responsibly. If a school bus driver is found to have been negligent, such as driving under the influence or failing to obey traffic signals, he or she could be held liable for any damages or injuries caused in an accident. 
  • School districts or bus companies: School districts or bus companies are responsible for ensuring that their buses are properly maintained and that their drivers are properly trained. If a school district or bus company fails to uphold these responsibilities, they could be held liable for the collision. These entities are also liable for the actions of their employees.
  • Manufacturers: Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe and free from any defects. If a manufacturer produces a bus or a bus component that is defective, such as a malfunctioning brake system, they could be held liable for any damages or injuries that occur as a result. 
  • Maintenance companies: Some districts or bus companies entrust maintenance companies to ensure that their vehicles are in good working condition. If a maintenance company fails to properly maintain a bus or repair a defect, it could be held liable for any damages or injuries caused in an accident.  

Filing a School Bus Accident Claim

If the bus involved in the accident is owned by a government entity, such as a school district, the process for filing a claim and determining liability becomes more complicated. This is because sovereign immunity still applies in some cases, which protects government employees from liability. Additionally, the process and timeline for filing a claim against a government entity may differ from that of a private entity. 

It is important to be aware of these differences and to act quickly within the specified time frame. To learn more about your legal options, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can assess your case identify your options for compensation and help you recover the compensation that you deserve, click here to contact LTKE law.