A parent’s worst nightmare: getting a call about a school bus accident involving their child. Has this happened to you? Unfortunately, it’s more common than you may think. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses average about 26,000 crashes every year, resulting in 10 deaths over the last 11 years. Among the victims, 25 percent were drivers and 75 percent were passengers, with frontal crashes accounting for two passenger deaths each year.
This country has 450,000 public school buses that travel 4.3 billion miles to transport 23 million children to and from school and school-related activities every year. School bus transportation is considered one of the safest, but when it’s your child on that bus, reality comes crashing down.
This time is fraught with frustration, fright and confusion. Now what?
Know the Circumstances
The slightest details can make all the difference in a school bus accident case. However, as is often the case when a child is hurt on the bus, there aren’t many adult witnesses around that are able to testify. That’s why it’s important to talk with your child right away to help them remember what happened and properly document it. Be specific, taking note of names, dates, times and locations. You should even document which seat your child was sitting in when the accident occurred. Your school bus accident lawyer will help you nail down the specifics later in a cohesive way but for now, just get the facts on paper. Have your child draw diagrams if they can.
Document Injuries and the Recovery Progress
Be sure to take photos of your child’s injury right after the accident. Sadly, few people do this, but it’s one of those things that can make or break a case. Visual evidence of harm to children is compelling in any case, but particularly if it ends up going to trial. By the time you call an attorney, the injuries may be healed. It’s also important to stay in touch with your child’s doctor and keep up with regular visits to track the recovery process. Keep a journal of how your child coped with the injuries on a daily basis, which will help a jury understand how your child’s life was affected by the injury.
File a Notice of Claim With Your Car Insurance Company
If your child suffered an injury related to the operation of the bus (as opposed to a fight or bullying that occurred on the bus), get your auto insurance company involved immediately. Many insurers will allow you to file a claim for no-fault benefits. However, because their child was not injured in their car, many parents are unaware they can claim medical expenses and attendant care (including child care costs for days absent for school) just by notifying their insurance provider.
Assist your auto accident attorney by investigating the bus’ transportation arrangements. Find out if it is owned by the school district or operated by a transportation company. Find out if there were cameras in operation on the bus that may have captured the accident. Your lawyer is there to help you dig deeper into the situation, including researching the bus driver’s disciplinary record as well as the bus company’s hiring practices. But you can do your part to jump start the investigation, helping your lawyer identify the proper parties.
School bus accident lawsuits often involve multiple defendants and can therefore be very complex to unravel. They take more time than standard auto accidents and a broader knowledge of the law. That’s why you need an experienced legal team to get you optimal results.
Contact Kuzyk Law
One of the most important things you can do in the aftermath of a school bus accident is call a personal injury lawyer with experience in such accidents. Learn about your rights when you place a call to Kuzyk Law at 661-945-6969 for a free initial consultation.