Two rear-end collisions involving Virginia public school buses and pickup trucks in Hampton Roads sent 13 students and several adults to hospitals on March 15, 2017. The wrecks occurred in Southampton County near Cortland and in York County near Yorktown.
The more-serious crash happened on U.S. 17/Southampton Parkway when a pickup driver slammed into the back of a bus as it sat close to the turnoff to Medicine Springs Road. The at-fault driver and his passenger suffered injuries, and five students were transported from the scene for medical treatment. After a second bus dispatched to collect the other 25 children returned to a school building, nurses advised the parents of three to take their kids to the emergency room.
Earlier in the day, the driver of a York County Public Schools bus ran into the back of a pickup stopped at a red light at close to the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Big Bethel Road. The initial impact knocked the pickup forward into another vehicle. Five students and two adults received first aid at the scene.
Virginia Department of Education data show that the school districts in Southampton and York counties have strong bus safety records. While 374 public school buses were involved in crashes across the commonwealth during the 2015-2016 school year, injuring 249 bus occupants, none occurred in Southampton. The two that happened in York involved only property damage.
What the events of March 15, 2017 show, however, is that bus accidents can happen anywhere and for multiple reasons. While investigators did not immediately file charges against the pickup driver who hit the bus on Southampton Parkway, it appears he failed to stop when the bus did to let off students. In York County, the bus driver faces a reckless driving charge for approaching a red light without reducing his speed.
Injured victims will have to wait for the release of official crash reports to learn why either of the at-fault drivers drove into the other vehicles. The most common cause of rear-end collisions is driver distraction, which can come from sources inside or outside the vehicle. Loud noises, dropped items and cellphone/smartphone use are among the distractions most often cited in crash reports.
Consulting with a Virginia personal injury lawyer will help the parents of injured students and the adults hurt in other vehicles understand and exercise their legal rights to file insurance claims. Taking on a school district presents unique challenges, so receiving advice and representation from a dedicated plaintiff's attorney will make clearing obstacles to receiving compensation easier.