School Bus Accidents

For some kids, the only way to get to school is by riding a big yellow bus. Nationwide, 23.5 million elementary, middle, and high school students rely on their school districts’ buses for free, safe, and timely transportation. And when school bus accidents occur, its our children who are at risk.

If your child was injured while riding the bus to or from school, you need help. A lawyer from Trucking Injury Law Group is here to hold the bus driver, bus company, school, and district responsible for what happened to your family—and we don’t back down until we get results. And don’t forget, your first meeting is always free.

Federal School Bus Safety Standards

school bus accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enforces bussing regulations intended to preserve and uphold the safety of the schoolchildren who ride them. For regulatory purposes, a school bus is defined as “a motor vehicle that has a capacity of 11 or more people (including the driver)” and “is sold or introduced into interstate commerce for purposes that include carrying students to and from school or related events.”

Here are a few key regulations and rules to be aware of:

  • School buses must be designed and manufactured in a manner that promotes “compartmentalization” during an accident, which prevents the buckling of the vehicle.
  • Buses used to transport schoolchildren must use energy-absorbing seats that limit the risk of injury in an accident.
  • Small buses with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) of less than 10,000 pounds must be equipped with seat belts.
  • Manufacturers, not federal regulators, specify the maximum number of occupants for a bus.
  • Occupancy numbers are typically based on seating three elementary school students in a single 39-inch seat.

Many bus accidents occur because federal and state regulations have been ignored, overlooked, or even purposely violated in an effort to save money. While we know that most school districts and transportation offices are working on shoestring budgets, it is never an excuse to compromise the safety of our schoolchildren.

If your child was injured in a crash, know that your family has rights. Our accident lawyers are prepared to sit down with you in a completely free setting to discuss your legal options.

School Bus Accident Statistics

Although accidents involving school buses make up a relatively small portion of all nationwide motor vehicle crashes, the impact they have on our families and communities is still significant.

Consider the following data collected by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the years 2011 to 2020:

  • There were 1,009 bus crashes resulting in fatal injuries.
  • Of those who were killed, 52% were elementary-aged children between the ages of 5 and 10.
  • Deaths were more likely to occur among pedestrians than bus occupants, particularly among those who were getting on or off a bus.

Every child deserves to have safe, reliable access to school. When a child’s home is located within a school’s busing zone, the school, the transportation company, and the bus driver are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of that child during rides to and from school.

If your child was injured in an accident that should have been prevented, you need help. Our experienced accident attorneys are here for you.

What Do the Flashing Lights on a Bus Mean?

Modern school buses are equipped with two different colors of flashing lights. Like other commercial vehicles that use lights to communicate intent with other drivers, these flashing lights are saying something to motorists.

To reduce your risk of being involved in a school bus-related accident, familiarize yourself with the meaning of:

  • Flashing yellow lights – The bus driver is slowing down and preparing to either pick up or drop off its student passengers.
  • Flashing red lights – The bus is stopped, and children are actively loading onto the bus, disembarking, or crossing the street.

Never ignore a big yellow bus with its flashing lights on or assume that they’ve been engaged accidentally. Bus drivers rely on these forms of communication to alert other vehicles to the presence of children.

When Do You Have To Stop for a Bus Dropping Off or Loading Students?

Every driver should be aware of the rules for sharing the road with school buses. Even if you don’t have children, it is our responsibility as a society to ensure that our youngest members can get to school safely each and every day.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re not sure when it’s necessary to stop for a bus or if you are in need of a review. Always stop 20 feet back and wait for a school transportation vehicle when:

  • Its red lights are flashing,
  • The red stop sign arm is extended, or
  • Both the red lights are flashing, and the stop sign is extended.

Never attempt to pass a stopped school bus. Disembarking children are instructed to cross the road in front of their buses, which effectively blocks them from the view of other motorists.

You should also be prepared to stop and wait even if the red lights aren’t flashing and the stop sign isn’t extended if you see children and a stopped bus. Malfunctions, driver error, or driver negligence could mean that communication and warning devices are not activated when they should be.

When driving, keep an eye out for children in the mornings and afternoons, especially when driving through neighborhoods, near school zones, or by known bus stops. Keep in mind that elementary, middle, and high schools generally have different start and end times. Activity buses may also be active in the early evenings while dropping off kids who attended after-school clubs or sports.

Exceptions to Stopping for a Bus

There are only two notable exceptions to stopping your own vehicle for a stopped school bus. They are:

  • If the bus is stopped in a loading zone for which there is no pedestrian walkway that connects the road you’re driving on with the loading zone.
  • If you are traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

If your child was injured by a driver who failed to stop for a bus when they were supposed to, call our law group for a free consultation.

The Most Common Causes of School Bus Accidents

Even one bus accident is one too many. Much of what we do here at Trucking Injury Law Group is done with the intent of creating safer roads for all of us—schoolchildren included.

As crash attorneys with a background in providing unrivaled legal representation to those injured by commercial vehicles, we are familiar with many of the unique causal factors of crashes involving school transportation vehicles, including errors or negligence committed by bus drivers.

A bus accident can also be caused by:

  • Texting drivers (distracted driving)
  • Drivers rushing to get to work
  • Poor vehicle condition
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Unqualified drivers
  • Insufficient number of bus drivers
  • Lack of bus monitors

So what’s the purpose of identifying the cause of a bus crash? If your child was injured in a collision, then you already know that they need access to medical care, mental and emotional support, and more. You cannot secure financial compensation for their injuries sustained in the accident unless you correctly identify all liable parties and the role they played in the crash.

We understand the difficult position that most bus accident victims and their families are in. Many may feel hesitant to take action against a bus driver or school district that they’ve otherwise had mostly positive experiences with. The most important thing to understand when faced with this situation is this—the decision belongs to you and your family.

You cannot make a fully informed decision until you have all the facts, though. An attorney is waiting to sit down with you and your family for a free consultation.

Injuries That Students Can Suffer in Crashes

School bus accident injuries can be serious and long-lasting, although these vehicles are designed in a manner known as compartmentalization, intended to minimize the risk of harm. By positioning strong, energy-absorbing seats close together, children may be protected from much of the force of an accident.

There are limitations to compartmentalization, though. Without seat belts, student passengers are left unprotected in the event of a rollover or side impact crash. Backpacks, lunch boxes, and other school-related items can also be sent flying in an accident, turning these objects into dangerous projectiles.

A personal injury lawsuit for a school bus accident may be seeking compensation for medical bills and other damages related to some of the following serious injuries:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Back injuries
  • Leg and knee injuries
  • Chest and rib injuries
  • Lacerations

Anyone who played a role in an accident, whether through negligence or the purposeful violation of traffic laws, can and should be held responsible for the harm they’ve caused.

When Fatal Accidents Happen

No parent should ever have to face the pain and loss of burying a child. When school bus accidents result in what should have been a wholly preventable death, every person, company, and entity that played a role in the collision should be held liable.

We understand just how difficult this period of time can be. If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, we encourage you to reach out to us as soon as possible. During a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, we’ll go through your legal options and the support our attorneys can provide for your family.

What Happens if My Child Was Injured in a School Bus Crash?

A school bus accident is a life-altering event that will impact not just your child but everyone in your immediate family. You or your child’s other parent may have needed to take time off work to care for them, resulting in lost wages and benefits.

Past, current, and future medical expenses for care rendered at the accident scene, during emergency room visits, with specialists, or during routine doctor’s office visits can put a strain on family finances.

Your child may no longer be able to participate in sports, clubs, school, or extracurricular activities in the same capacity as they did before.

Won’t the School Pay for My Child’s Injury?

School districts are responsible for the safety and well-being of students as they are being transported on school buses through a concept known as vicarious liability. This means that even if a bus driver’s negligence caused an accident, their employer (the school district) is still responsible for any harm that students suffer as a result. This means that they are also responsible for related damages, including pain and suffering, medical bills, parental lost wages, mental anguish, and more.

In an ideal world, the at-fault party of an accident will always step forward to do what’s right. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.

The insurance company for your child’s school district may try to shift the blame or responsibility to other vehicles involved in the collision. Although it is possible for multiple parties to have played a role in a crash, it is not a valid excuse or reason for an insurance company to avoid taking responsibility for school bus accidents.

Why Work With Trucking Injury Law Group After a School Bus Collision?

Trucking Injury Law Group is a multi-state legal group founded by a group of attorneys committed to making our roads safer for everyone. We bring experience, knowledge, and excellence to every case we take.

When you work with our bus accident lawyers, you can do so with the confidence that we will:

  • Investigate the cause of your child’s bus accident.
  • Identify all parties responsible for the crash, including both the driver and the school district, the bus manufacturer, another driver, or others.
  • Review and analyze the accident report created by responding police officers.
  • Collect, document, and evaluate evidence that proves the damages your child has suffered from their accident injuries.
  • Craft the strongest possible bus accident claim on your behalf.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company for maximum compensation.

We understand that settling matters outside of court is generally faster and easier for most families. Your school bus accident lawyer will do everything in their power to secure full and fair compensation without you or your loved ones ever having to set foot in a courtroom.

Not all cases can be handled quite so easily, though. While only a small number of bus accident lawsuits ever go to trial, know that every lawyer on our Super Team has the skills, knowledge, resources, and dedication needed to see a bus accident case to the most successful outcome possible.

The Statute of Limitations for Filing an Injury Claim

A statute of limitations is a legal time frame that limits how long you have to take action after an accident or injury. These are set at the state level, not by the federal government. For personal injury (the category which school bus accidents fall under), most states have a statute of limitations anywhere from two to three years from the date of the accident.

There are exceptions that may extend the statute of limitations in your specific case. For example, most states allow for a discovery rule, which means that the clock does not start ticking until the victim discovered (or should have reasonably discovered) their injury. Exceptions may also extend the statute of limitations when the accident victim is a minor, which is often the case with school bus accidents.

Don’t count on there being an exception to the legal time limit in your case without first talking with an attorney, though. These rules are complex, and you don’t want a simple misunderstanding of the law to be the reason your child cannot recover compensation for their injuries.

Can My Family Afford a Lawyer?

With roots in Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, we are sensitive to the needs and concerns of every family we work with. We know that when we first meet with injury victims, they are often dealing with unprecedented injuries and financial losses. We never want to be another source of monetary stress in our clients’ lives.

A school bus accident lawyer from Trucking Injury Law Group will meet with your family for a free legal consultation to explain your options in detail. On top of this, we are proud to take many cases on a contingency fee basis. What does this mean? You don’t owe us a dime unless we win your case for you.

Let’s talk—contact us as soon as possible so that we can get started on your claim.