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Who Is Liable for a School Bus Accident?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Nov 03, 2017 in Auto Accidents

row of school busesSchool bus accidents may have serious and even deadly consequences. When a child is injured in a school bus accident, his or her family may be unsure about who is liable for paying for medical expenses and other damages the child suffered. In some cases, multiple parties may be to blame for the accident. Seeking compensation when multiple parties contributed to the accident may be complicated.

The Phoenix car accident attorneys at the Phillips Law Group have decades of combined legal experience and knowledge on complex personal injury matters. We understand which parties can be held liable for a school bus accident, and can discuss the circumstance surrounding your claim during a free, no obligation consultation.

School District

Parents expect school districts to safely transport their children to and from school. When a school bus accident occurs, the school district is usually the first party blamed for the accident. School districts have a legal requirement to ensure the safety of the kids in their care. Some reasons why the school district may be held liable include:

School Bus Maintenance

Arizona law imposes strict duties on school districts that own school buses. School bus owners are required to maintain school buses in the following ways:

  • Systematically inspect, repair and maintain all parts of a school bus and accessories that may affect its ability to safely operate.
  • Have such work performed by or under the supervision of an ASE-certified technician; an individual with at least one year of participation in a program sponsored by a school bus manufacturer or commercial vehicle maintenance training program; or by someone with at least one year of experience as a school bus mechanic.

School districts can be held legally responsible for bus accidents that are caused by a vehicle that was not adequately maintained, operated by an under-trained driver, or driven by a driver with a bad driving history.

Additionally, even if the school district upheld its obligations, it can still be held liable for an accident caused by a bus driver’s negligence. This is based on the legal principle of vicarious liability, which holds employers responsible for their employees’ actions. However, if the school bus driver is an independent contractor or not directly employed by the district, the driver could potentially be held liable.

Arizona School Bus Driver Requirements

Arizona law requires school bus drivers to meet the following qualifications:

  • Drivers must be age 18 or older and complete classroom training.
  • Drivers must have the appropriate type of license to operate a school bus that has been issued by the Department of Transportation; a bus endorsement from the Department of Transportation; and a school bus certificate issued by the Department of Public Safety.
  • Drivers must conduct a pre-trip safety inspection of the bus every day.
  • Drivers must apply the parking brake and keep the vehicle in neutral while students are getting on or off the bus.
  • Drivers cannot use mobile devices or headphones while operating a school bus.

Third-Party Bus Company

Some school districts use private transportation companies to operate school buses. In this situation, the school district may not be legally responsible for the accident, or part of the liability may rest on the third-party company.

Our lawyers will review the contract between the school district and the third-party bus company to determine the duties of each party. For example, the school district may have a continuing duty to monitor the activities of the bus company that it contracted, which may only shift part of the legal responsibility to the third party.

Another Driver

Some accidents are the result of another driver’s negligence. Some examples may include when the other driver was:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted by a mobile device
  • Following too closely
  • Violating traffic rules

Vehicle Parts Manufacturer

If a school bus accident is caused by a defective automotive part such as faulty brakes, tires or engine part, the part’s manufacturer may be held responsible for the accident.

Product liability laws hold manufacturers responsible when they release defective products into the market. When a consumer is injured by a defective product, he or she may be able to pursue a defective product claim against the manufacturer to recover compensation for their suffering and financial losses.

If you believe the school bus accident that injured you or your loved one was caused by a defective auto part, contact our product liability attorneys to discuss the possibility of pursuing a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Contact a Bus Accident Lawyer in Phoenix

If you or your loved one has been injured in a school bus accident, it is important that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Our personal injury lawyers are experienced at negotiating with insurance companies to secure compensation for the injuries our clients have sustained. We can help investigate the claim and explore the legal relationships between the parties involved to determine which one is liable for the accident. We will also help you navigate complex legal issues, such as governmental immunity, vicarious liability and negligence when several parties are involved.

We provide our services on a contingency fee, so you only have to pay us if we help you recover compensation for your injuries.

Call 1-800-706-3000 to get started.

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