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New York School Bus Accident

If you have recently have been involved in an accident with a school bus or someone who caused an accident with a school bus, there’s probably no question that you have catastrophic injuries. These catastrophic injuries are common for anyone who is involved in an accident with a school bus. Many children are likely to be injured on a school bus if the driver has not been properly trained or advised about how to do his or her job with safety at top of mind.

Unfortunately, it is often the victims in these types of accidents who pay the price in the form of severe injuries and catastrophic medical bills. If you find yourself in this position, you deserve to have a knowledgeable attorney walk you through each phase of your case. School bus accidents can be caused by a variety of different factors, including a driver who is not paying attention, a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a driver engaged in reckless behavior, or pedestrians and other motorists on the roadway that can cause problems with a serious school bus. Many common school bus accidents happen as a result of people not complying with the rules and regulations surrounding when they need to stop for a school bus.

When a school bus has stopped to load or unload children, other drivers should always be aware of the fact that in addition to the school bus vehicle itself, there are children getting on and off of the bus. These children may not always be easy to spot due to their smaller stature. This means that someone should easily strike a small child getting on or off a school bus, and this could lead to devastating injuries. Usually, school bus accidents across the state of New York claim far too many lives that lead to serious injuries. A New York school bus accident attorney must be retained by the family of the person who has suffered in such an accident to recover maximum compensation.

Negligence is a leading cause of bus accidents.

Far too many people are seriously injured and do not know the rights. Without talking to a school bus accident attorney in New York, you may not be able to take action as soon as possible. You need a school bus accident lawyer in New York who will work tenaciously to recover maximum compensation for any children injured as well as for the families and parents who have lost a loved one. Full and fair compensation should be pursued against anyone who may have liabilities. This can include other truck and car drivers, and school districts who could be held liable for negligent hiring or training of the school bus driver. If the school bus was defective in some way, such as if maintenance was not regularly carried out on the school bus, this information will likely be discovered during the investigation process carried out by your lawyer. All of this information put together is the evidence that is used to illustrate liability in a case like this and you deserve to have someone in your corner fighting for you during this difficult and challenging time. Losing a child is something that no parent should ever have to suffer through. However, if this has already happened to you, you need a wrongful death attorney in New York who can help you put together a claim. Fatal vehicle accidents are all too common and can leave a devastating wake of problems for the surviving family members. This is why many people in this situation don’t know where to turn and what to do next. Consulting with experienced lawyers is strongly recommended if you believe that you need support from someone who can walk you through each phase of your case, and help you fight for full and fair compensation under the law. With so many different things to consider in a personal injury claim, it is always in your best interests to identify the attorney who has the track record necessary to recover maximum compensation.

While any type of bus accident is horrible, a school bus accident that leaves children injured is considered particularly horrific because of the age of the victims. Millions of children ride school buses each year. Most school buses do not have seat belts. Roughly 12,000 children are injured each year in school bus accidents nationwide and 11 are killed. On September 7, 2011, what should have been a routine school bus ride for students in Gorham, New York ended up being anything but routine. That morning there was dense fog. According to the Huffington Post, the school bus driver, Dawn Scheutzow, made a left turn and collided head on with a pickup truck. The bus flipped over and landed on its side. There were 26 students on the bus ranging from third graders to twelfth graders. Nine students were hospitalized with non-life threatening personal injuries. Neither the bus driver nor the pickup truck driver was seriously injured. Just like victims of any other type of vehicle accident, victims of school bus accidents have the right to hold the negligent party accountable for any injuries they suffered. In some instances the school bus driver is negligent, while in other cases the driver of another vehicle may have caused the accident. If you or your child suffered a serious injury in a school bus accident it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York school bus accident lawyer who will review the facts of the case and explain to you the process of seeking compensation for your losses.

Causes of School Bus Accidents

There is no single cause of school bus accidents. Just like any other car, truck, SUV, or bus accident a school bus accident can occur for a variety of reasons. Common reasons include driver negligence. For example, if the driver operates the bus in a reckless manner by speeding, running red lights, or tailgating, the likelihood of an accident increases. If the bus driver is cited, then that would be strong evidence of fault.

Bus accidents can be caused because of mechanical failure. Mechanical failure can be caused by a defect in how the bus was manufactured or in its design. It can also be caused because the bus was not properly inspected and serviced. For example, faulty breaks undoubtedly can lead to an accident. Proper inspection and servicing could prevent an accident caused by malfunctioning breaks.

Third party negligence. In some instances, school buses end up in accidents due to the negligence of a third party. For example, according to WHECTV, in Steuben County on March 20, 2019, the driver of a passenger vehicle crossed over into the path of an oncoming school bus, leading to a head-on collision. Based on the information reported by the media, it appears as if the driver of the passenger vehicle was at fault and the bus driver was not. While no one on the school bus was injured, the 23-year-old driver of the car was killed.

In another incident that occurred in March 2019, a sedan hit a 10-year-old child who was trying to board a school bus. According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the bus was stopped and had the appropriate hazard lights on. The 48-year-old driver of the car was issued two tickets. One was for driving at a speed not reasonable and prudent, and the other was for passing a stopped school bus. With the help of an experienced New York school bus accident lawyer, the parents of the injured student have the right to file a claim against the driver of the car on behalf of the minor student.

What Types of Injuries are Common to Tour Bus Accidents?

The types of injuries that victims of school bus accidents receive vary depending on several different factors including the type of accident and the speed at which the vehicles involved were traveling. High-impact accidents are likely to leave victims seriously injured. Occupants of the school bus will likely be tossed about, causing trauma to various parts of their bodies. In a high impact collision, the bus may fall over on its side, increasing the likelihood of a serious injuries.

Common bus accident injuries include injuries the head and brain. Few school buses are equipped with seat belts. This means that in a collision occupants may be thrown from their seats and hit their heads. In some cases students have been ejected from the bus, landing on their heads. Victims with TBIs sometimes fully recover after resting or after surgery. With severe TBIs the brain damage may be permanent, affecting the victim's memory, cognitive abilities, ability to speak and mobility.

Other common injuries are spinal injuries and broken bones.

  • Spine injuries. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Severe spinal cord injuries can leave the victim paralyzed.
  • Broken Bones. Victims commonly suffer broken bones in bus accidents. A broken bone occurs when excessive force is applied to a bone causing it to break or shatter. In some cases the bone breaks completely, while in others the bone is cracked. While broken bones typically heal complete after being stabilized for a period of time or with surgery, there are some cases in which a broken bone leaves permanent damage.
  • Amputations. Because of the heavy metal that buses are made out of, when there is a serious accident that tears apart portions of the bus, amputations sometimes occur.
  • Death. Sadly, in some cases victims of school bus accidents do not survive because of severe trauma to the head.
How is Fault Determined in a School Bus Accident?

A determination of fault must be made in order to determine who is legally and financially responsible for the accident. When there is a school bus accident it is possible that the driver was at fault, another party such as the driver of another vehicle or a pedestrian was at fault, or that both the bus driver and another party contributed to the accident.

We do not represent any of the individuals or entities involved in the 2011 Gorham school bus accident and have no opinion as to who was responsible. The accident investigators likely looked at the following factors to determine what caused the accident and who was at fault:

  • That there was dense fog
  • That the school bus driver may have turned into the path of the pickup truck
  • That the school bus driver may have been traveling too fast for the weather and road conditions
  • That the pickup truck may have been traveling too fast for the weather and road conditions

The fact that there was dense fog would likely not have completely absolved the bus driver or the pickup truck driver of fault, if either was found to have been driving too fast or to have committed a driving error. As part of the investigation the authorities likely reviewed the bus driver's driving records to ensure that both she and her employer were following federal rules regarding driving hours. The driver may also have been subject to drug and alcohol testing to ensure that she was not impaired.

How do I go About Collecting Damages from a City?

In New York most school buses are managed by the local school districts, even if the buses are owned by a private company. In order to recover damages from a school district or some other local government entity, you must follow special procedures. You cannot simply go down to the courthouse and file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Before you can file a lawsuit you must first file a "Notice of Claim." N.Y. GMU. LAW § 50-e. The Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident with the appropriate government offiec. The Notice of Claim must state:

  • The name of the claimant
  • A description of what happened, including the date, time, and location of the accident
  • The nature of your injuries
  • Amount of damages sought

N.Y. GMU. LAW § 50-e

It is critical that you file the Notice of Claim within 90 days. If you miss the filing deadline you will be barred from filing a lawsuit.

What Types of Compensation are Possible from a School Bus Accident Lawsuit?

If you or your child was injured in a school bus accident, there a variety of types of damages that you may be able to receive from the negligent party.

Medical expenses. If you are seriously injured then you will end up with substantial medical bills. These are considered "out-of-pocket" expenses. The court will likely require the negligent party to reimburse you for all of the medical bills and expenses related to your injuries. Medical expenses include fees associated with the ambulance service, emergency room treatment, hospital stay, surgery, follow up visits to your doctor, physical therapy, rehab, durable medical equipment and medications. In order to receive compensation for medical expenses you must be able to prove them through receipts, bills and correspondence from your insurance company. If your injury will require long-term treatment, then you can request compensation for future medical expenses.

Lost wages. If you had to miss work while you recovered from injuries that you received in a school bus accident, then you can seek compensation from the negligent party for the wages you lost. Lost wages include actual paychecks you did not receive because you missed work, as well as the value of vacation or sick days you had to use while recovering. If you were on track to receive a bonus or a promotion, but failed to get it because of the accident, you can seek damages for the value of the bonus or promotion that you lost. If your injury leaves you permanently unable to work, you can seek compensation for loss of future earning capacity.

Pain and suffering. You can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced. Pain and suffering are complicated to monetize. The court will consider the severity of the injury, whether you had to undergo surgery, the amount of physical pain you experienced, whether you are permanently disfigured with a scar, and whether your injury is permanent.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

While school buses are not inherently dangerous and school bus drivers are not all incompetent or negligent, school bus accidents do occur. School bus accident claims can be both complex and frustrating. Laws are in place that require claimants to follow special procedures in order to pursue money damages from the school district or other government entity. Failure to follow such procedures including adhering to the very short filing deadlines will mean that you are legally barred from seeking compensation for your injuries or for your child's injuries. Therefore, it is important that you are represented by an experienced school bus accident attorney serving New York. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully representing personal injury victims seeking compensation from private and public entities. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Suffolk County, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

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