Chicago School Bus Accident Lawyer
School buses transport an estimated 26 million children back and forth to their classrooms every day, proving to be one of--if not the safest option for many young students.
Even though a child is more likely to be injured riding in a passenger car versus a school bus, there are still incidences when bus drivers are negligent in their duty to provide safe transportation for their precious cargo.
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC regularly represent families in bus accident cases where children suffered injuries in Chicago school bus crashes.
Should you have questions about the legal rights related to your child's severe injuries under Illinois law, our law firm invites you to contact our law firms at (888) 424-5757 for a free legal consultation. In addition, our Chicago bus accident lawyers can provide legal advice on how to handle your medical bills through a free case evaluation.
Bus Driver Negligence Resulting in Injuries to Students
Most people would agree that school bus drivers have a tough job. They must ensure that their young riders get on and off the bus safely.
Every bus driver owes a duty of care to each passenger, including employing safe driving practices. When they breach this duty, and an accident occurs, they may be held liable for the injuries and fatalities they have caused.
Though the bus companies owe it to the public to ensure safety, many bus drivers in the United States receive inadequate training regarding safety procedures and the intricacies of operating a bus.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites the top four reasons for bus accidents where only one vehicle was involved in a single-vehicle fatality crash as:
- Striking a fixed object
- A person falling from the vehicle
- Vehicle overturning
- Bus hitting a train or other non-fixed object
Causes of School Bus Accidents
School bus accidents can result from the negligence of another motorist or the bus driver themselves. Here are the most common factors that lead to school bus accidents:
Bus drivers are not always to blame for accidents involving school buses. In some cases, it is the fault of another motorist who fails to exercise extreme caution when driving near a school bus.
Traffic laws make it illegal to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.
Anyone driving near a school bus must stop until the bus finishes loading or unloading students. In some accidents, irresponsible drivers ignore this law and effectively put children in harm’s way.
Other motorists also fail to practice proper driving standards when driving near a school bus on the road. When a bus is in motion, other motorists are permitted to overtake with caution.
However, some motorists are reckless when passing a school bus on the road, resulting in disastrous consequences for themselves and the school bus passengers.
Collisions involving a bus full of children can be catastrophic, especially when you consider the fact that most school buses don’t have seatbelts. However, one of the more significant dangers to children on the bus is not the ride itself but getting safely on and off the bus.
Many school bus accident cases stem from a child getting injured while getting on or off a bus. Such an accident typically occurs because of inattentive school bus drivers.
Lack of Training and Experience
An inexperienced driver may lack the skill and expertise to handle a school bus safely and react to hazardous situations appropriately. Bus drivers who lack training and experience could put themselves and their passengers at risk every time they are on the road, and it is a risk that requires utmost mitigation from school bus companies.
A defective motor vehicle is inherently more dangerous than a fully-functioning one. When a bus lacks regular maintenance, it is more likely to suffer breakdowns, faulty brakes, poor engine performance, and other consequences that can lead to a school bus crash.
At the very least, mechanical problems can lead to a bus stalling on the road. But in worst cases, buses lacking maintenance can have the brakes suddenly stop working or the wheels skid on icy roads.
Some school bus accident cases result from conditions out of a driver’s control. Examples include inclement weather, poor-quality roads, and unexpected hazards like large potholes and loose construction equipment.
Nevertheless, bus drivers must follow school bus safety standards and exercise extreme caution to mitigate the risk while driving in unfavorable conditions.
Fatal Accident Case Statistics
Of the children fatally injured in a school bus crash between 2010-2016, most were either on foot or on a bicycle:
- 73% of the children killed were struck by the bus
- 34% of those fatally injured victims were hit by a bus going straight at the posted speed limit
- 22% were killed when the bus was leaving a parking space or in a lane of traffic
- More than half of school-bus-related pedestrian fatalities involve children between 5 and 7 years old
- In addition to the fatalities, many bus accident injuries occur when a young victim falls when loading and unloading onto the bus.
The NHSTA estimates that between 8,500 and 12,000 children suffer injuries in bus collisions when riding to and from home each year.
This statistic is significantly high compared to car accident victims who are seriously or severely injured on other modes of transportation, including charter buses, CTA buses, or other public transportation systems.
Common School Bus Accident Injuries
Victims endure almost all kinds of injuries in a school bus accident, ranging from mild sprains to full-blown fractures and sometimes even injuries that result in life-long disabilities.
Some of the most common school bus accident injuries include:
Sprains are common in incidents where a child falls while getting off or on the bus. This injury can also occur if a bus starts moving before a child reaches their seat.
Children can also sustain fractures while getting on and off a bus, but it is more common in collisions (either with another motor vehicle or a stationary object). Fractures can range from mild to severe, with more severe cases leading to life-long consequences.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury is one of the worst injuries a child can sustain in a school bus crash. Injuring the spine can lead to debilitating effects, such as loss of function, loss of mobility, and even permanent disability.
Severe trauma to the head can be life-threatening and significantly debilitating. When a child suffers a severe injury to their head, it can result in chronic pain, dizziness, sleeping problems, and headaches.
If the child’s injury is severe enough, it can affect their cognitive abilities, such as memory, thinking, concentration, and language skills.
Filing a School Bus Personal Injury Lawsuit
Any party injured by the school bus driver's negligence can file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation. The bus driver is responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety on the bus and sharing the roadway and sidewalks.
In most negligence cases in a school bus accident, both the operator and the school district have legal liability.
The school district ensures both the buses and their drivers cover accidents. However, if the cause of the crash is negligence, a school bus accident lawsuit may be necessary to recover compensation.
In a pedestrian accident involving multiple parties, the victim’s family can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the other drivers involved. The bus operator or school district may also file a case against the other motorist if they are entirely or partially responsible for the accident.
The bus manufacturer may also be held liable if it is found that their buses do not pass minimum safety standards, resulting in personal injuries. In addition, the bus company may also bear responsibility for failing to maintain buses or train their school bus drivers.
If your child has been a victim of a negligent bus driver or bus operator, here are the documents needed to prove negligence for your school bus accident claim or personal injury lawsuit:
- Medical records: Ensure that your child undergoes a thorough medical examination at the hospital.Aside from detecting injuries early on, getting a check-up immediately after a bus accident secures medical records that can help your personal injury case.
- Police reports: Parents typically don’t reach the accident scene before their children are rushed to the hospital. Thus, you must rely on statements made by the police officers on the scene to build your case.
- Proof of physical pain and suffering: To recover compensation for your child’s pain and suffering, your personal injury lawyer can use documents, including psychiatric evaluations and pictures of injuries.
- Documentation of the scene: If you make it to the scene, take as many pictures and videos as possible. Obtain the information of the bus driver, the bus company, and the other driver at fault (if there is any). Eyewitness accounts can also be useful in proving negligence, so take down the information of witnesses present.
The consequences of a bus accident go beyond physical pain and mental trauma. School bus accident lawsuits typically involve multiple claimable damages, including:
- Medical bills: The responsible party at fault for your child’s personal injuries may be held accountable for paying for your child’s medical treatment, including surgeries, therapy, medication, and anticipated costs for future treatments.
- Lost wages: If you missed work while taking care of your child, you might also be able to recover financial compensation for lost income, including wages, commissions, and bonuses.
- Pain and suffering: You also have the right to recover compensation for your child’s pain and suffering, whether physical, emotional, or mental.
- Wrongful death: If your child suffered fatal injuries in the accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault. You may also sue for your child's pain and suffering they experienced before passing away.
Has your child suffered a severe injury, or did they die in a school bus accident? Avoid the following that could negatively affect our school bus accident injury claim or lawsuit:
- Do not sign any settlement form with the insurance company without consulting your attorney.
- Find a law firm with school bus accident lawyers well-versed in dealing with these cases.
- Document your child’s school bus accident injury thoroughly.
- Take your child to the doctor, even if they show no signs of serious injury. Injuries like whiplash and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can take days or even weeks to appear.
No child should ever be harmed through negligence from a Chicago school bus driver.
Parents expect that when they entrust their child's safety to a school district employee, the operator and their bus company will do everything possible to keep the children safe. Bus accident attorneys can help your family take legal action against the parties at fault.
Many school districts will hire third-party bus companies to transport the children to and from school, field trips, and sports activities away from the campus. Each outside bus company must carry additional liability insurance based on the state's minimum liability requirements.
Sufficient insurance will ensure that victims are covered should they be seriously injured in a bus crash.
Chicago Bus Accidents FAQs
Our Chicago school accident lawyers know that many families have unanswered questions about filing and resolving a personal injury claim when an accident involves serious injuries and wrongful death. Our legal team has answered some of those questions below.
Call a Chicago school bus accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 today to schedule a free consultation for additional answers about bus accidents and liability. We are here to help.
What Happens When a School Bus Crashes?
Typically, the city, county, or educational district owns and operates its busing system, picking up elementary, middle, and senior high school students. These school buses are often used for off-campus activities, transporting students to sporting events and field trip locations.
Individuals suffering harm or property damage by a negligent school bus driver may file a claim against the school district, holding the driver liable and the school accountable for compensation.
However, obtaining compensation from any government entity, including the educational district, might be challenging, requiring the skills of a competent personal injury lawyer specializing in complicated personal injury cases.
What Are the Most Common Types of School Bus Accidents?
The most common accidents occur because the bus collides with other vehicles. Nearly all related fatalities involve drivers' and passengers' death from those not riding on the bus.
A small portion of these accidents involved pedestrians because the negligent driver hit, knocked down, or bumped the pedestrian in the street or parking lot.
How Many People Have Died in School Bus Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about two hundred people die in school bus accidents every year. However, only a small number of these fatalities involved passengers riding on the bus. Many school bus accidents involve victims injured or killed while outside the bus.
Why Are There No Seat Belts on School Buses?
Regulations maintained by the NHTSA revealed that bus passengers are protected through compartmentalization and do not need to wear a seat belt. The Illinois Department of Transportation also follows this concept.
The school bus's weight and size can distribute a collision's impact force, making it safer for passengers than those driving a light truck or car. Bus drivers must follow specific safety measures to help avoid bus crashes.
Hiring Chicago School Bus Accident Lawyers
Were you a passenger injured in a school bus accident, or did you lose a loved one from a preventable death? If so, a Chicago bus accident attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC is experienced in handling sensitive cases that involve child injuries.
Your Chicago bus accident lawyer will work with you to get the best possible monetary outcome in your case on a contingency fee basis. Meet with our injury attorneys to discuss your child's school bus accident.
Our bus accident attorneys can help you obtain compensation from the government entity's insurance company to cover your medical expenses, time off from work, pain, and suffering from injuries sustained.
Call our Chicago bus accident attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) today or through the contact form for a free case evaluation. All discussions with your bus accident lawyer remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
We provide legal representation for an injured party in various practice areas, including medical malpractice, car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, premises liability, defective products, product liability, accidents involving commercial vehicles, and wrongful death. Contact or call our personal injury lawyers now for a free consultation.