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School Bus Accidents

School Bus Accidents

School Bus Accidents

 

A recent Ontario Court of Appeals ruling held that a bus company must pay a $7 million award to a 13-year-old girl who suffered brain damage when she leapt out the emergency exit of her school bus on the day she graduated from Grade Eight. Although the girl was found to be partly responsible for her own injuries, the bus company was found negligent for failing to curb the dangerous practice, which had become somewhat common for graduating students. While this case presents an unusual situation, school bus safety in Ontario has been a topic of concern for quite some time. Safety advocates have lobbied for additional personnel to be placed on buses, on the grounds that the driver should not be responsible for both driving and policing student behaviour. In addition, many parents wonder why we allow children to ride buses without seatbelts, when they are standard in other jurisdictions (including eight US states) and in all other vehicles in Canada. There is also concern about children being struck -- by other vehicles or by the school bus itself – after they exit the bus.

 

School buses, like any other vehicle on the road, can be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Three high school students were seriously injured in a school bus-pickup truck crash near Innisfil in September of 2018, for example, and in 2017, there were three school bus crashes in the space of a single week in the Windsor area. A Toronto Star investigative reporter found that GTA area school buses were involved in more than 1,500 collisions in the years between 2010 and 2015. If your children ride a school bus every day, you may assume that they will get there and back home safely. But what happens if your child is injured in a school bus accident? Who is responsible?

 

Getting Compensation

 

If your child has suffered an injury in an accident involving a school bus, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Only a personal injury lawyer who has experience in this area of the law will be able to assess your case properly and present you with all of the options open to you. Because school bus collisions can have many different causes, there may be different avenues open to your family with regards to getting the compensation you deserve.

 

In some cases, the school board may be liable. The school board is responsible for the safety of your child from the moment he or she boards the school bus in the morning to the moment he or she steps off the bus at the end of the day. Just as your child’s school board is responsible if he or she is injured on school property, they may be responsible for injuries sustained on a school bus. Many school boards hire an outside company to provide bus services for students. However, the school board has authority over any outside companies, and may still be held liable if they are found to have been failing to oversee the company properly.

 

You may also have grounds to hold the outside company liable. The company is responsible for providing properly trained drivers and keeping the vehicles maintained in order to comply with school bus safety standards. The drivers must obey all laws and regulations in Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, the Public Vehicles Act, and the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act.

 

If a problem with the bus itself was solely or partly responsible for the accident, you may be able to hold the school bus manufacturer liable. A faulty part, for example, could have been a contributing factor to the accident.

 

Of course, if the school bus driver was acting in a way that was dangerous or negligent, you may also have grounds to hold him or her liable. This might include behaviours such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, texting while driving, speeding, or engaging in any other types of reckless behaviour. And if the accident was caused by the actions of a third-party driver (for example, if another driver rear-ends the bus), that driver could be held liable.

 

Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

 

When you or a family member has been injured in an accident, it’s important to contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Filing a claim with your insurance company regarding a serious injury can be a complex and exacting process. A lawyer who has experience with these types of claims will be able to guide you through the process: gathering evidence, acquiring the necessary medical records, meeting filing deadlines, and negotiating with the insurance company.

 

Sometimes people hesitate before calling a personal injury lawyer because they are afraid that legal help will be prohibitively expensive. In fact, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they receive a percentage of any compensation you receive. This, of course, ensures that they work very hard on your behalf. If your child has been injured, contact a personal injury law firm today.