Compassionate Legal Advice for Parents and Accident Victims
School buses are traditionally one of the safest ways for kids to travel to and from school, but accidents can and do happen, especially if negligence is involved. Reckless driving, either from the bus driver or other drivers, can contribute to a serious, and even fatal, school bus accident. This can be especially distressing when you consider how many children travel to school on any given day in Colorado.
If you or your child has been injured in a school bus accident, then you may be eligible for compensation if negligence was involved and should immediately contact a Boulder bus accident attorney to discuss your case. Whether the accident involved another reckless driver or a negligent school district, the legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC can thoroughly explain what options are available to you in a free initial consultation. Call us at (303) 665-2929 to schedule a case review.
Types of School Bus Accidents
The structure and design of school buses make them relatively safe to transport children, despite the lack of seatbelts and airbags. Seats are padded heavily with shock-absorbing material that can prevent serious injuries if the bus is involved in a collision. But, if enough force and speed are applied, occupants can suffer extensive trauma from the impact. In addition, if the school bus driver is negligent, such as by being intoxicated, distracted, or fatigued, then they can drive the bus off-road or into oncoming traffic.
Accidents and injuries involving school buses can occur in various ways. The four basic types of school bus accidents are:
- School bus collisions with other motor vehicles: Like commercial trucks, school buses are much larger and heavier than the average passenger vehicle. In a collision with a school bus, drivers and passengers of cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, or other vehicles are likely to suffer serious injuries.
- Single vehicle school bus accidents: Not all accidents involve other vehicles, however. Buses can drive off-road into trees, railings, or buildings, or the tires or brakes can malfunction, causing a rollover.
- Pedestrians or bicyclists struck by a school bus: When a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a school bus, the injuries are likely to be catastrophic or fatal, even at low speeds.
- Accidents involving school bus occupants: School buses are designed to be extremely safe for children, but they can still be injured if the bus is involved in a rollover.
The type of accident you or your child were involved in may drastically change the process for filing a claim. If another vehicle collided with the bus, you may be able to file an auto accident claim against the driver’s liability insurance to recover compensation for your child’s injuries. However, if it is shown that the school bus driver or district was at fault, you would need to file a government claim, which is far more complicated and requires a thorough review by an attorney.
Common Causes of School Bus Accidents
Determining what type of claim you can file will come down to what caused the accident and who was liable. Many different factors can contribute to school bus accidents, but most involve driver error, either on the part of the bus driver or the driver of another vehicle. After an investigation, it may be determined that you or your child’s injuries were caused by:
- Driver distraction
- Driver inexperience
- Reckless driving such as speeding
- Poor construction and road conditions
- Bus equipment defects
- Weight distribution problems
- Lack of passenger protection
If you work with the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our legal team can thoroughly review you or your child’s medical records, accident report, and witness statements to determine just what caused your injuries and how to hold the responsible party accountable.
Liability in School Bus Accidents
As mentioned earlier, your claim may fall into a government claim or an auto accident claim depending on who is liable for the collision. But not all claims are clear cut and there may be multiple parties that are found liable. For example, if a school bus collides with another vehicle, you may be quick to place fault on the school bus driver. However, a thorough investigation may reveal that the driver only lost control because of a mechanical failure. Thus, the fault would lie with whoever was responsible for the repairs and maintenance of the bus, or with the school district for not having the bus serviced. This may ultimately shift the type of claim you can file and the amount of compensation you can receive.
Generally, school bus accidents are the fault of:
- School bus drivers
- School districts who oversee that bus route
- Other vehicle drivers
- Mechanics or bus manufacturers
In the first two instances—bus drivers and school districts—your claim will be filed against the school district itself. This is because government claims against a specific worker are technically filed against the agency they worked for, which in this case would be the school district.
Deadlines for Filing a Claim Against a Government Worker
One of the key differences between an auto accident and a government claim is the deadline to submit a lawsuit. When you file a claim against a governmental agency in Colorado, you must first file a written claim with the Attorney General or government agency—school district—within 180 days from the date of the school bus accident. You may only file a lawsuit to recover compensation when 90 days have passed, or the agency has denied your claim, whichever comes first.
This contrasts significantly with school bus accidents that are the fault of other drivers. In those cases, you would file a standard auto accident claim, which allows up to three years for your to file. In addition, a government claim is capped at $150,000 for one injured party or $600,000 for two or more people injured in a single accident, whereas an auto accident claim does not have a cap for economic damages. If the accident was with a commercial vehicle, you may be able to file against a higher policy limit.
Why You Need an Attorney
Lawsuits against the government are complex cases with special rules, procedures, and deadlines. If you fail to comply with the legal requirements or miss a filing date, your claim for compensation could be barred. Our lead personal injury lawyer at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, has an extensive history of success filing claims on behalf of Colorado residents and have a thorough understanding of the legal process. We offer a free consultation to every prospective client, so there is no cost to contacting us to discuss your case. If you or your child has been hurt in a school bus accident, call us at (303) 665-2929 to speak to an experienced Boulder school bus accident attorney and learn what options are available to you.