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School Bus Accident Settlements

School Bus Accident Settlements

School Bus Accident SettlementsAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed with an array of special safety features such as flashing red lights, a stop-sign arm, extra mirrors, and cushioned seat backs. Additionally, there are a number of laws specifically dedicated to protecting students boarding and exiting buses.

But there’s no safety feature or regulation that can completely prevent school bus accidents, which can result in tragic fatalities and catastrophic injuries. In fact, from 2007 to 2016, there were an average of 128 school transportation-related fatalities per year. A total of 281 fatalities in the same time period were school-age children. While 9 percent of those victims were occupants of the school transportation vehicle at the time of the accident, non-occupants and other vehicle occupants accounted for 90 percent of the fatalities.

School bus accidents can leave victims with monumental medical bills, physical and emotional distress, and uncertainty about how to obtain the compensation that will allow them to recover and move on with their lives.

Damages in School Bus Accident Settlements

If you are the victim of a school bus accident, you may have grounds to bring a claim against the school district, the driver, or the bus manufacturer, depending on the cause of the accident. The damages may cover all or part of your medical costs, lost wages due to time off work, ongoing disability care, quality of life damages, and other expenses.

What Factors Can Affect Your School Bus Accident Settlement

If it’s determined that the best course of action in your case is to bring a negligence claim against the school district due to bus driver error, it’s important to know that suing a state agency can be more complicated than suing a private party.

Here are factors that may play into your ability to bring a claim and/or receive damages:

  • Sovereign immunity and the Texas Tort Claims Act. Governmental entities — including public school districts and their employees — enjoy the privilege of sovereign immunity. That essentially means that you cannot sue them unless they say you can. In Texas, there are specific exceptions to this as defined by the Texas Tort Claims Act, which permits a limited waiver to sovereign immunity. The Texas Tort Claims Act specifically allows exceptions if the injury occurred “out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle,” so a claim can generally be asserted against the school district for bus accident injuries.
  • Statute of limitations and Statutory Notice. When filing a personal injury lawsuit against a school district, you must file a “Notice of Claim” within a certain time period. In most states you are given 60 to 90 days to file this document; otherwise, you may be prohibited from filing a lawsuit. For this reason, it is important to act quickly when you want to pursue a school bus accident settlement.
  • Private versus public school. Sovereign immunity and tort act exceptions only apply to public schools. You may not be subject to the same requirements and regulations if the school employee/equipment in question is employed by a private school.
  • A cap on the total amount of damages. The strict regulations surrounding sovereign immunity and tort liability may limit the damages available to cover your expenses and losses. It may also limit your ability to secure punitive damages, which exceed compensation and are awarded to punish the at-fault party.
  • Severity of the injury. The nature and extent of your injuries will affect how much you should expect to recover out of your personal injury case.
  • Partial responsibility on behalf of claimant. As in every vehicle accident case, the amount of financial recovery may depend on whether the claimant in the case shares some responsibility for the accident.

How Long Do School Bus Accident Settlements Take?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to give a cut-and-dried answer to this question. Your case’s timeline will depend on a number of factors. And because the legal process for school bus accidents is often more complex, it can extend the length of your child’s case. The following are some areas that may impact the time until the case is resolved.

  • The number of injuries and parties involved. If there were many victims injured in an accident, it may take longer to resolve your child’s case. Bus accidents are almost always more complex than accidents between two individuals, because there will be more parties involved, such as the driver, their employer, and their insurance providers. However, in a large accident with many victims, that complexity will be multiplied many times over. A complex case usually takes much longer to resolve.
  • The cause of the accident. Investigating the root causes of an accident is an important phase in any case. However, sometimes this process is more straightforward than at other times. For example, a case that involved employer negligence, such as a failure to properly train drivers, may take longer to investigate and prove than one that was due to a mistake on the part of the driver.
  • The severity of your child’s injuries. Injuries that are quite severe may take longer to diagnose and treat, and that in turn can impact the length of your case. Estimating the impact on your child’s health, quality of life, and future will be more involved in very severe accident cases.
  • The responsiveness and cooperation of other parties. The willingness of insurers and other parties to communicate in a timely manner and to comply with your lawyer’s requests can impact the timeline of your case.
  • The litigation process and jury trial. Most school bus accident cases do not go to trial, but if yours does, it will extend the length of your case considerably. A difficult negotiation process can also delay case resolution.
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Why Hire a Lawyer to Help with Your School Bus Accident Settlement

An experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyer will understand these complex factors and take them into consideration when evaluating how to proceed with your case. Settlement amounts vary from case to case and cannot be accurately estimated without a case evaluation. However, a commercial vehicle accident lawyer is there to advocate on your behalf and seek the compensation you deserve.

How FVF Can Help

It is our mission to offer support and guidance to victims of vehicle accidents. That is why we offer a free, no-pressure evaluation that will allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of your options and feel confident in whatever path you choose moving forward. Our team is thorough, experienced, and dedicated to securing the best outcome for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the necessary steps to pursue a school bus accident settlement.

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