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Back to school: Are schools liable if my kid is hurt on the bus?

Early September is always a crazy time, as parents and kids adjust to the new school routine. For some there is the adjustment of a new school, for some there is a new start time and for some there are after school activities. Whatever the changes are, the number one concern is to make sure your kids get to and from school safely.

Some kids walk to school, some get driven by the family, and some take the school bus. But is the bus the safest way to travel? And what happens when your child is injured on the bus--does the school have liability?

Many Factors

By and large, school buses are a safe mode of transporting for your child. Since 2003, only 8 percent of school transportation fatalities occurred in school buses or school-related transportation. According to Mark Rosekind, Ph. D., Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more children being transported to school in passenger vehicles (i.e. a parent driving a student) are lost each year than those students being transported by school bus.

Still, when you put your child on the bus, you expect them to arrive at school safely. Far more than accidents, children involved in a bus incident are often hurt:

  • By walking in front or in back of the bus, out of sight-lines of the driver
  • By passenger cars that fail to stop while the school bus arm is out

Being vigilant as a parent when your child is boarding or departing the bus is crucial to their safety.

What about once they are on the bus?

The short answer is that if there is negligence on the part of the bus company or the school, there is a possibility of suing on behalf of your child. Negligence can take many forms and might include:

  • Not maintaining the bus to proper safety standards
  • Hiring school bus drivers who have not be properly trained
  • Hiring school bus drivers who have many moving violation infractions
  • Whether the bus driver is employed by the school district or a separate entity
  • Where the accident occurred--i.e. on school property or a public road

The employer and/or owner of the vehicle, as well as the driver, may all have liability if there is an accident. If the school bus is hit by another vehicle, that driver may have liability.

Ask an attorney

Who the liable party is, and whether or not you can recover monetary compensation from them, depends on all parties involved, and all factors involved in the accident. The only way to be absolutely certain whether you have a case, and whom you may have the case against, is to speak with a personal injury attorney who can assess all information.

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