What Legal Recourse Do I Have if My Child Was Injured in a School Bus Accident?

Every day, throughout the United States, millions of students depend on school buses to transport them safely to and from school and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, despite strict safety regulations, several hundred accidents involving school buses take place every year in North Carolina. These incidents are often the result of bus driver negligence or the negligence of other drivers. School bus accidents can be especially devastating because they often involve multiple victims, many of whom are young children. However, parents could be eligible to bring a claim against a negligent school district or bus driver on behalf of their injured child to collect financial compensation for hospital bills and other damages arising from the accident

School bus accidents are handled very differently from accidents involving other types of motor vehicles, so being familiar with the legal aspects surrounding fault and liability is just as essential for families pursuing damages as working with an experienced attorney who understands these differences. School bus liability claims require different types of evidence, and investigation techniques, and are even filed in different courts. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our Outer Banks personal injury attorneys have been helping injured victims achieve successful outcomes for their personal injury claims since 1985, including numerous school bus accident cases. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.  

Legal Principles and Standards Governing School Bus Accidents  

North Carolina school bus drivers are subject to strict standards, including a high duty of care for the safety of their passengers. This duty extends to vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications, obeying all driving laws, and adhering to safety protocols designed to keep students and other road users safe. Depending on the factors that caused or contributed to the accident, legal strategies for recovering full and fair financial compensation will vary. 

How is Negligence Proven in a Bus Accident?

Proving negligence in a school bus accident involves proving four distinct elements. They are:

  • Duty: The bus driver had a duty to ensure the safety of their passengers and the public.
  • Breach: The bus driver breached their duty of care by committing negligence, such as speeding or using their cell phone while operating the bus.  
  • Causation: The bus driver’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident and resulting injuries.  
  • Damages: Due to the injuries, the victim incurred quantifiable damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.  

What Are Some Common Causes of Outer Banks School Bus Accidents?

Just like other motor vehicle accidents, school bus accidents can take place for a wide variety of reasons, such as:  

  • Driver negligence, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding
  • Mechanical failures, such as tire blowouts and brake malfunctions
  • Road hazards
  • Inclement weather, such as snow and ice
  • Passenger behavior, such as blocking the driver’s view or otherwise interfering with the safe operation of the vehicle

Correctly determining the cause of the accident is an essential step in proving liability and taking legal action.

Who Could Be Liable for an Outer Banks School Bus Accident?

Possible defendants in an Outed Banks school bus accident could include: 

  • The relevant school district: Each school district is responsible for the safe transportation and proper supervision of its employees and students.
  • The bus driver or their employer: The private or public company that operates the school bus could be held liable for any accidents caused by driver or company negligence or insufficient safety standards.
  • Another driver: If the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, they could be liable for the resulting damages.  
  • The company in charge of maintenance: The company hired to perform maintenance or repairs responsible on the bus might face liability if negligent maintenance caused or contributed to a crash.  
  • Other parties: Based on the facts of the collision, other parties could potentially be held liable.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

Some very rare exceptions notwithstanding, the aggrieved party has three years from the day the accident occurred to file a claim. If you are pursuing a wrongful death claim, however, the statute of limitations is just two years.  

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Collecting strong evidence, correctly quantifying damages, and utilizing practical legal strategies, eyewitness statements, police reports, thorough documentation, and expert analysis are all vital to the success of a school bus accident claim. To ensure that compelling evidence that supports your claim is not lost or destroyed, it is important to reach out to an Outer Banks personal injury lawyer at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp as soon as possible after your accident. Doing so allows us to build a strong case that supports maximum compensation, like the $2.4 million settlement we won for the family of a client who died after his vehicle was clipped by a careless truck driver. If you or your child were seriously injured in an accident involving a school bus, call (833) 997-1774 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We serve clients throughout Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.