Injuries Suffered While Riding The School Bus In Alabama
According to the website American School Bus Council, Alabama school districts operate approximately 7,000 school buses every year. Those buses travel more than 150 million miles per year, including trips to and from school, extra-curricular activities, and for other organizations that rent a school bus for event transportation. With many federal regulations in place to keep buses and their occupants protected from harm, a school bus should be one of the safest modes of transportation your child can ride. These requirements include:
- Fuel system protection
- Higher quality braking system than passenger vehicles
- Rollover protection
- Emergency exits
- Warning lights
- Larger mirrors
- Special passenger crash protection
Despite these protections, the federal government still doesn’t require seatbelts on school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission has considered the issue many times, but school bus drivers have consistently voiced objections that stop mandatory seatbelt installation on school buses. A report from the National Education Association states the following driver concerns:
- Students may use the heavy belt buckles to deliberately injure other students
- Drivers have no way of ensuring that every student complies with buckling his or her seatbelt or does so properly to avoid injury in an accident
- Students may panic and become disoriented during an emergency and therefore become trapped by their seatbelts
Common Causes of School Bus Accidents
Although school bus accidents are rare, that provides little comfort to parents whose child suffered serious injuries or who died because of one. You only have to scan the headlines to see that bus accidents do indeed happen in Alabama, such as the 2012 accident that sent 20 children to the hospital or the four Huntsville high school students who died in a bus accident in 2016. Although every accident is different, some common themes emerge when a tragic incident takes place.
Distraction and Fatigue
Despite the widespread campaign against driver distraction and fatigue, people continue to allow themselves to succumb to distractions while driving and intentionally drive knowing they feel extremely tired. This includes school bus drivers. Young children on the bus may cause the distraction, as can other drivers, scenery, and electronic devices. Unfortunately, a school bus driver looking away from what lies directly in front of him or her for even a few seconds can have disastrous consequences.
Unlike commercial truck drivers who must follow mandatory sleep requirements, nothing can stop a bus driver from reporting to work after not sleeping at all the previous night. Tired and distracted drivers make errors such as turning too sharply or widely, failing to check blind spots, and speeding.
A bus driver can do everything right and still get into an accident because the vehicle has not received proper maintenance. School buses should receive regular inspections, tune-ups, and repairs, but this doesn’t always happen. That can lead to situations like faulty brakes and tire blows outs that cause serious accidents.
Bus drivers pulling into or out of a high school face a higher risk of an accident due to sharing space with inexperienced teenage drivers. Out on the road, people driving passenger vehicles don’t always give school buses the respect they deserve. This includes stopping at least 20 feet from a bus that has its stop sign extended.
School Bus Accident Claims Can Get Complicated
When you get into an accident with the driver of another personal vehicle, you know that you need to deal with that person’s insurance company. However, it’s not so straightforward in a school bus accident case. The reason is that government entities such as transportation bureaus and school districts own the buses. Filing a claim against the government is much more complicated than what you would experience in a typical personal injury claim.
Contact An Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney
If your child has suffered significant injuries or died due to a school bus accident, knowing who to hold accountable is often the most challenging issue. It could be the driver of another vehicle, the school bus driver, or the company responsible for proper maintenance of the bus. At the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, L.L.C., we put our legal investigative skills to work immediately to determine fault. From there, we aggressively pursue your right to fair compensation to pay for your child’s medical expenses, your lost time from work, and other costs associated with the accident. This is true even when you must file a claim against the government. Please contact the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, L.L.C. at (251) 473-6691 for your free, confidential case review today.