Who Is Liable in a New York School Bus Accident?
Whether you’re the parent of a young child or another commuter on your way to work, the results of a school bus accident can be terrible. School bus accidents can inflict major injuries on both bus passengers and other motorists. An underage passenger may suffer developmental issues following a bus accident, and a collision with a large vehicle like a school bus can permanently injure other drivers or occupants.
If you or your child have been involved in a school bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The New York school bus accident lawyers at the Mandel Law Firm will have extensive experience with many types of accident claims, and we’ve helped our clients recover significant settlements. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
How Do School Bus Accidents Happen?
Some of the most common causes of school bus accidents in New York include:
- Impaired driving — A school bus driver who is operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol has neither the judgment nor the fine motor skills to avoid a collision.
- Distracted driving — Both school bus drivers and the drivers of other vehicles could inadvertently (though still negligently) cause a crash if either driver is distracted by their phone or something else.
- Mechanical defects — School buses are large, heavy machines with many complex parts. A defect in a major system like the bus’ brakes, engine, or steering could lead to an accident.
- Improper maintenance — Like all commercial vehicles, school buses require regular maintenance to make sure they’re safe to operate. If this maintenance is not done, worn or defective parts could lead to a crash and subsequent injuries.
- Blindspot accidents — Like tractor-trailers and other large vehicles, school buses have large blind spots in which it’s difficult for the bus driver to see other vehicles around them. Bus drivers need to be as careful as possible when merging or turning and other drivers should be careful when moving through a bus’s side and rear blind spots.
- Bad weather — Drivers may have trouble staying in control of their school buses on wet, snowy, or icy roads. Other vehicles may also plow into a school bus if their drivers lose control in poor weather.
Common Injuries Suffered in School Bus Accidents
Some of the most common injuries suffered by school bus accident victims include:
- Severe bruises and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Internal organ damage
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
Who Might Be Liable After a School Bus Crash in New York?
There are several potentially liable parties in a school bus accident, such as:
- The bus driver — If the school bus driver was impaired, distracted, or otherwise negligent, they can be held liable for an accident and its consequences.
- The manufacturer of the bus — If the accident was caused by a mechanical defect, then the maker of the school bus may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
- The school district — If the school district was negligent in some way, such as by hiring an unqualified driver or one with a history of impaired driving, they might be liable for an accident. However, suing a public school district can be difficult, as they are a government institution and enjoy certain legal privileges.
- Maintenance workers — Maintenance personnel can be held liable for a school bus accident if it’s shown to be the result of improper maintenance.
- Other drivers — In many cases, school bus accidents are the fault of the driver who hit the bus. They may have been impaired, distracted, driving recklessly, or negligent in some other way. Private citizens can be held liable for injuries in a car accident, though New York’s no-fault laws mean there are certain steps that need to be taken before you can file a claim against another party.
Compensation for a School Bus Accident
Before you can file a personal injury claim after a school bus accident, New York’s no-fault accident laws state that you must show that your injuries meet a certain threshold of severity. Once you’ve done this, you can file a claim against the liable party or parties. If a student younger than 18 is injured in a school bus accident, their parent must file the claim on the child’s behalf.
However, there are certain additional steps that must be taken before you can file a claim against a school district. Government institutions must be notified quickly after an accident if you intend to file a claim, and they enjoy a certain amount of legal immunity. A personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of filing a claim against a school district.
Once you’ve filed a claim against the liable party or parties, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Damaged personal property
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
How Mandel Law Could Help
Regardless of who’s liable for your injuries in a school bus accident, the experienced New York school bus attorneys at the Mandel Law Firm will defend your right and work to get you fair compensation for your injuries. We’re not afraid to go up against anyone, and no matter who’s liable for the crash, we’ll fight to hold them accountable for their actions. And we can do all of this while you focus on recovering from the ordeal.
When you’re ready to talk to an attorney after a school bus accident, the Mandel Law Firm is ready to listen. Get a free initial consultation today.