When you put your child on the school bus, you trust that the driver will keep them safe. Many bus rides in the greater Philadelphia area are not particularly long, and the national average school bus trip is only about 5 miles. However, some of these buses travel on the highway or on winding back roads and tight city streets where accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.
If your child was injured in a school bus accident, it may be incredibly nerve-wracking and create many struggles in your life. Know that you do not need to be alone. A Philadelphia school bus accident lawyer like those at The Reiff Law Firm may be able to help you explore your options and get compensation against the driver that caused your child’s accident. Especially if your child was hurt, the compensation you receive can help cover medical costs and pain and suffering. For a free consultation on your school bus accident injury case, call our lawyers today at (215) 246-9000.
Injuries from School Bus Accidents
Anyone who has ever ridden on a school bus knows that these busses rarely have seatbelts. In the event of an accident, this may increase the risk of injury that school children face. During a bus crash, children may not stay held in their seat. Fortunately, it is very difficult for a child to be ejected from the school bus during a crash. Even without ejection, your child could still be very injured if they are thrown into another child, the wall, the ceiling, or the floor.
Common injuries in a school bus accident can include mild injuries like cuts and scrapes but may involve more serious injury. If your son or daughter was injured in a bus accident, you could be able to seek compensation for any of the following injuries:
- Cuts and scrapes,
- Broken bones,
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI),
- Back injuries,
- Neck injuries,
- Spinal cord injury (SCI),
- And more.
After a school bus accident, it is important to have your child see a doctor. Their regular pediatrician may not be able to advise you on serious injuries, and it is often necessary to see specialists after severe injuries. If the accident caused catastrophic injuries, your child should be taken to the ER to check the full extent of the injuries. When injuries are milder, your physician may be able to treat the injuries and keep a record of your child’s injuries and prognosis.
Suing for School Bus Accidents in Pennsylvania
School buses are often owned and operated by independent school bus companies who work for the school district on a contract basis. This may complicate matters as to whether you sue the school bus company or the school district directly.
First, it is important to understand how you can sue the bus company for the errors of its driver. Especially when the school bus driver is responsible for the accident, you may be able to take the bus driver and their employer to court over your child’s injuries. In Pennsylvania, you can usually hold an employer responsible for its employees’ negligent actions if the negligence occurred while the employee was on-duty. That means that a driver hired to operate a school bus is certainly on-duty when an accident occurs, and the bus company may be made to pay for any injuries their drivers cause. In some cases, you may also be able to sue the school district under a similar theory. In those cases, the driver is essentially a school district employee while at work, which could place the liability on the school district.
If your accident did not involve your child on a school bus, but rather your vehicle was struck by a school bus, you may also be able to sue. You can similarly sue the school bus driver and their employer for the driver’s negligence. As in any car accident case, you may be limited by the “no-fault” or “limited tort” options on your auto insurance policy, so it is important to talk to an attorney about this. However, injuries worth over a certain threshold and injuries that are sufficiently permanent always allow a lawsuit.
If the accident was not caused by the school bus driver, and victims were the riders and drivers of the bus, you may be able to sue the driver of the other car. If another driver caused the accident, you might not be able to sue the bus company and its driver, but rather the other driver may be required to pay for compensation. Either way, it is important to talk to a lawyer to understand whether the bus company may still have insurance that can help cover your child’s injuries after a bus crash.
Compensation for School Bus Accident Injuries
After a school bus accident, you could face serious injuries that leave you hospitalized or incapacitated. Extended hospital stays, surgeries, and medical devices like crutches, casts, and wheelchairs can be expensive. If your injuries are severe enough to require ongoing home nursing care, the costs can skyrocket. Talk to an attorney today about how to cover the damages you need after a school bus crash.
PA law requires every driver to carry insurance for their vehicle, including school bus drivers. If your child was injured on a school bus, the bus company’s insurance may be able to cover some of the damages your family is facing. The same is true if the accident was caused by another driver. However, the compensation from car insurance may not be enough to cover your needs.
PA’s choice no-fault car insurance laws mean that there may be money immediately available regardless of who was at fault, but these damages may be too low to cover the expenses you face. If your injuries were severe, you could face substantial hospital bills and intense pain and suffering. Injuries worth more than a certain amount as well as injuries that are extremely serious or permanent in nature can always entitle you to take your case to court.
When your case goes to court, you can claim any damages stemming from the accident. Your attorney can present evidence of medical bills and bank statements to prove any expenses you were forced to pay because of the accident. If you were injured as a driver or passenger in another car, the injuries might prevent you from returning to work. You can also claim damages for lost wages in a lawsuit. In many cases, you could also be entitled to substantial compensation for your physical pain and mental suffering. These damages are not usually available through an insurance claim, and you may need to pursue your case in court to recover pain and suffering compensation.
Filing a School Bus Injury Case
In any injury case, you have a limited amount of time to file your case. Pennsylvania law allows victims up to two years to file their injury cases with a court of law. This covers only the filing of the case; you may be entitled to additional time after your case is filed to have your attorney make legal motions requesting depositions and evidence, and you have even more time to take the case to trial.
Even though two years may seem like a long time, you should never delay in taking your case to an attorney. There are forms and complaints your lawyer needs to submit to the court and send to the defendant, which take time to produce. The earlier you start working with an attorney, the more time they have to perform research and evaluate evidence to prepare your claim.
Since most school bus injuries put children at risk, it is important to understand how their age affects these laws. In most cases, a parent or guardian is able to file a case on their injured child’s behalf. Some states give extended time limits for minors who are injured since they do not have the personal ability to understand the claims. Pennsylvania law gives injured minors two years from the date they turn 18 to submit their claim. However, there may be benefits to filing your case sooner rather than later. Because eyewitnesses’ memories and evidence can all deteriorate over time, your case could be stronger if it is filed immediately.
Our Lawyers Can Help if Your Child Was Hurt in a School Bus Accident
If you or your child was injured in a car accident involving a school bus, talk to an attorney today. The Philadelphia school bus injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm represent victims of school bus accidents and help them get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.