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School Bus Accidents
Of all the things our children do, going to school should be one of the least dangerous. We entrust our children to the schools that educate them, and when we put our children on the bus in the morning, we expect them to return safely to us at the end of the school day. When that doesn’t happen, it is especially devastating. If a school bus accident injured your child, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel.
School Bus Accidents: They Happen
As frightening as they are to consider, school bus accidents do happen. According to the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2004 to 2012, 174 school-aged children died in school bus accidents. Most of the children killed were on foot. On average, about 19 children die each year in such accidents, and almost half of these children were between the ages of five and seven.
Even one such death is one too many.
If your child was injured in a school bus accident, seek legal counsel. At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes in Chicago, we understand the devastation these accidents leave behind, and we’re here to help fight for your child’s rights and just compensation.
School Bus Accidents: The Common Causes
Like other vehicular accidents, a variety of factors cause school bus accidents:
- A distracted, impaired, or otherwise negligent driver
- A poorly maintained school bus
- A school bus with a manufacturing defect or design flaw
- A malfunctioning school bus
Furthermore, inadequate passenger protections can exacerbate the injuries caused by a school bus accident.
The difference between school bus accidents and regular car accidents is that you entrust your child to the school district and its busing system, and—if your child’s injured—the school district has spectacularly breached your trust. Parents are required to place their trust in the school system that educates their children, and schools that violate that trust with a lapse in safety can create an extremely difficult emotional hurdle.
Bus Driver Negligence
The school bus driver is charged with picking your children up each morning and delivering them safely back to you each afternoon. If instead that driver’s negligence causes injury to your child, it can prove extremely difficult for you as a parent.
It goes beyond just the bus driver, however. The school district itself is responsible for hiring safe, reliable, and experienced bus drivers who have what it takes to shoulder the immense responsibility of ferrying precious cargo—your children. If the school district doesn’t take adequate precautions in its hiring practices, it can leave your children in serious danger.
A school bus driver’s negligence can take a variety of forms:
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or exhaustion
- Not accommodating for the road conditions, low visibility, or inclement weather
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Speeding or otherwise engaging in aggressive driving practices
When the School Bus Driver Is Distracted
Distracted driving has become the scourge of our roads’ safety. In fact, the problem is so pronounced that the U.S. government has a website devoted to this issue. Distracted driving is defined as any driving in which a driver places attention on anything other than the vital task of driving safely. Distracted driving fits into three distinct classifications:
- Cognitive distractions engage the motorist’s thoughts
- Manual distractions engage the motorist’s hands
- Visual distractions engage the motorist’s vision
As distractions go, texting grabs the brass ring. This distraction manages to combine all three classifications in one tidy activity. In Illinois, school bus drivers are legally prohibited from using smartphones—even in a hands-free capacity—while engaged in driving a school bus.
When it comes to distractions, smartphones aren’t the only game in town. Distractions are as unique as the people who become distracted by them, but several common driver distractions include:
- Reading a map or directions (or any other kind of reading material)
- Allowing students on the bus to create distractions
- Eating or drinking
- Using the bus’s driving mirrors for anything other than safe driving
School bus drivers are professionals whom we charge with the loftiest of responsibilities—keeping our children safe. The law holds these drivers to strict legal standards, and you should feel confident that your children will safely return to you when you put them on the bus each morning.
Your Bus Accident Claim
If your child was injured in a school bus accident that the bus driver’s negligence caused, the bus driver, the school district, and any third-party contracting agency may all share liability, making such claims complicated. An experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer will investigate what transpired to cause the accident, will help you understand your legal options, and will fight for your rights and your rightful compensation.
If a School Bus Accident Injured Your Child, Consult a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Today
If your child was injured, you’re naturally devastated. If your child was injured in a school bus accident, you need legal counsel. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes understands how difficult this is for you, and we’re here to help. Please contact us or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.