A school bus carrying 27 students overturned on March 3, 2008 in Canton, Georgia.Twenty-six students were taking to area hospitals, but none were seriously injured.The driver, Luis Monserrate, was charged with failure to maintain a lane.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the driver let the school bus dip off the roadway onto the shoulder.He then overcorrected, causing the bus to veer off the road.The bus clipped a utility pole and then overturned.
Currently, there are 585,000 school buses in use in the nation.Over twenty-three million children travel on school buses each year.The Transportation Research Board reports that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students. School bus accidents account for 6000 injuries annually and 20 deaths.Compared to incidents caused by adult drivers transporting students in a private vehicle, these cause 51,000 injuries and 169 deaths annually.Most deaths occur from students boarding or exiting buses.
However, the National Coalition for School Bus Safety advocates for re-designs to include seatbelts and to eliminate top-heavy design that causes rollovers.The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates having lap shoulder belts and adult monitors on all new school buses.
School buses are operated by drivers with a commercial drivers license (CDL) regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.Most states require special driver training for school bus drivers as well as drug and alcohol screening and law enforcement background checks.
Governmental authorities usually operate school buses.Schools may raise governmental immunity as a defense to any claims arising from a school bus accident.Thus, lawsuits involving a school bus injury have an unusual component of addressing immunity claims.Typically, in Georgia, counties will waive immunity to the extent of applicable insurance coverage.However, immunity statutes require specific notice provisions that if not followed bar the claim.The time periods for providing notice of a claim to a government tend to be shorter than standard statute of limitations on claim filing.
If you believe that you may have a claim involving a school bus accident, contact the law firm of Robert N. Katz for a free private consultation.