California School Bus Accidents
Determining Liability in California School Bus Accidents
A variety of individuals can be found at-fault for causing a bus accident. This includes:
- Bus driver. A bus driver is required to keep passengers safe the moment they step foot onto the vehicle. Unfortunately, there have been cases reported where a bus driver was committing negligent acts that resulted in an accident, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the road. Bus drivers have also been exhausted or fatigued while behind the wheel. Lack of rest could affect the bus driver’s driving skills.
Lastly, a bus driver must be aware of the maximum passenger limit on the bus. Exceeding the passenger limit will make it difficult for them to safely operate the vehicle.
- Other drivers. Many drivers can become impatient when driving behind a slow-moving vehicle. This is primarily why drivers tend to speed by a school bus to avoid driving at a slow pace. However, this is considered as a reckless action that could contribute to an accident, especially if the driver did not properly check their surroundings prior to cutting the bus driver off. Furthermore, a driver is expected to keep a 10 feet distance from the bus. By not creating a large gap between the bus, the driver will not be given enough time to react to what the bus is doing.
- Bus owner. They are in charge of making sure that the bus goes through inspection and maintenance before being used. By not properly taking care of the bus, the owner will create a dangerous environment for the bus driver and passengers on board.
- Bus manufacturer. They are expected to create good quality buses. Defective or faulty buses will increase the likelihood of an accident from happening.
Preventing School Bus Accidents
To prevent a school bus accident, both the driver and students must cooperate with one another.
- Driver. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), it is required for the driver to make sure that they are operating the bus safely. A bus driver is required to have knowledge and experience on how to operate a bus. They must also acquire a Class B CDL before they are qualified to offer their services to others.
- Students. Students should follow these tips in order to keep themselves safe from harm.
- Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before entering.
- Wait for the bus in a safe area that is away from traffic.
- Hold on to the handrail when entering the bus.
- Stay seated until the bus arrives at the final destination.
- Avoid placing personal belongings in the walkthrough area.
- Avoid creating distractions that will make the bus driver not pay attention to the road.
- Walk nearly 10 feet away from the bus and proceed to cross the street.
- Do not cross the street from behind the bus.
Victim of a School Bus Injury
If your child was involved in a school bus accident, it is recommended for you to follow these tips to ensure you acquire justice and fair compensation for your losses.
- Gather evidence of the incident. This includes taking pictures of your child’s injuries and obtaining the bus driver’s contact and insurance information.
- If there are any witnesses around, it is highly urged to ask for their consent to obtain their contact information. Witness testimonies can help support your claims against the party at-fault.
- The child should be seen by a medical professional regardless of how minor, moderate, or severe their injuries are. The doctor will have the office visit saved on file, which can be used as a piece of evidence for your case.
- Contact an experienced bus accident attorney. An attorney can help you strengthen your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and acquire the maximum compensation you deserve for your losses.
Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.
Limitations for Damages in California
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.
However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.
If your child was a victim of a school bus accident, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled bus accident attorneys that have extensive experience in handling personal injury cases. We will help you get the financial and emotional compensation you deserve. This includes medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. No fees will be charged until we win your case.