School Bus Accidents

Tennessee Personal Injury Law: School Bus Accidents

School bus accidents concept, yellow school bus parked in front of school playground

Across the nation, parents place their trust in school districts and institutions to ensure that safety is their highest priority when transporting their children. While the majority of schools and institutions in Tennessee do this quite well, others occasionally do not. This is proven in by the number of daily school bus crashes that.occur regularly throughout the state.

Reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have shown that more than a thousand school-transportation-related accidents have occurred throughout the past ten (10) years, and even more were the cause for loss of life. This means that over one hundred (100) fatalities occurred every year which were the product of incidents involving school transportation.

The majority of accidents that occurred throughout this time involved occupants who were in other vehicles in the accident. More than 20% of them were bicyclists, pedestrians, students, or other non-occupants and nearly 10% involved the children onboard.

School Bus Accidents in Tennessee

Davidson County’s school Transportation Department is among the largest in the state, having more than 190 school buses in operation, transporting students to and from school as well as school functions, like field trips, band trips, and sporting events. Nearly 60% of all students ride will routinely ride the bus as a means of transportation to and from class. The sum of all bus routes completed throughout the state totals just over 10 million miles every year.

As one might expect, most fatal accidents reported by the NHTSA that involve child pedestrians and school buses take place either between 7am – 8am or 2pm – 4pm. Nearly half of all fatal school bus accidents involving other vehicles were results of front-end collisions, and only 15% were by right-end collisions.

Single-Vehicle School Bus Accident Causes

The majority of Tennessee’s school bus accidents involving single vehicles have been caused by:

  • Hitting a stationary object
  • Vehicle rollover
  • Passenger falling out of the vehicle
  • Colliding with a moving object, such as a cyclist, pedestrian, living animal, or even a locomotive

According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are designed specifically to be more safe than other passenger vehicles for injury prevention as well as collision avoidance. Every school bus must adhere to particular standards when it comes to crush potential, height, weight, engine, lighting and mirror maintenance, bright coloring, reinforced sides, and fully functioning stop sign arms.

However, instances of a driver’s negligence, lack of training, or fatigue are often cited as causes of such cases. Other causes often involve the insufficient maintenance of the vehicle, as well as the potential for manufacturing defects and faulty parts.

Speak with an Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Tennessee school bus accident, you should seek immediate help to protect your rights and ensure fair compensation for damages. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation!

Determining Liability in School Bus Accidents

While individual entities may appear to be liable for school-transportation-related accidents, there are actually numerous entities which could potentially be held liable in such cases. Those held responsible could include the following:

  • Bus drivers
  • Bus manufacturers, as well as bus parts manufacturers
  • Bus owners (can be local or state government, or private entities)
  • Bus maintenance contracting company
  • Tennessee city or county where the incident took place
  • Another driver or other third party

For cases in which the government maintained, operated, or owned the vehicle, special rules will apply to the statute of limitations, the necessary guidelines for procedures used when filing, and limits on compensation for damages.

Common Carrier Law

School buses transport children, making them common carriers by law. Passengers of common carriers are owed a significant duty of care by their drivers.

Employers of school bus drivers should ensure procedures are in place which require them to:

  • Operate their vehicle with special care
  • Always engage appropriate warning displays, like stop sign arms and flashing lights, when children are getting on or off the vehicle
  • Ensure that all traffic nearby has come to a stop prior to allowing the child to board or leave the bus
  • Make sure every child crosses th street safely before entering as well as after leaving
  • Operate their vehicle with special care
  • Always engage appropriate warning displays, like stop sign arms and flashing lights, when children are getting on or off the vehicle
  • Ensure that all traffic nearby has come to a stop prior to allowing the child to board or leave the bus
  • Make sure every child crosses the street safely before entering as well as after leaving the bus

Best Practices for School Bus Safety

Although a child’s legal guardian may not be able to control what a school district or bus driver does, they are able to assist by teaching their children how to safely use the bus. Safe practices that should be taught include:

  • Before the bus approaches, take thee steps away from the street
  • Always form a line away from the street
  • Always wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the driver has opened the doors, and said it is alright to climb aboard before moving toward the bus
  • If walking in front of the bus is necessary, always take five big steps away from the front of the bus prior to crossing, and ensure the driver has sight of you
  • Do not walk behind the bus
  • Always alert the bus driver if something has been dropped by accident around the bus

Talk to an Experienced School Bus Accident Attorney

Contact InjuryTN today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation with one of our accomplished personal injury attorneys. These cases incur no costs or fees until we win and our attorneys are always ready to meet you at your home or in your hospital room.

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