In the State of Florida, millions of students are transported via school bus on a daily basis. The typical school bus is yellow or orange in color and clearly visible to all other drivers on the roadway. When there is a school bus on the roadway, other drivers should pay due care and drive safely. Of course, this is simple common sense; however, it is important to stress the importance of driving carefully when driving near school buses. Our most precious “cargo” is on board in the form of school aged students. At times, there are crashes involving two or more school buses who are following each other on a school outing or during a transportation run. When school buses collide, the force can be quite intense and personal injuries can and do result from these crashes. There is no immunity per se from liability for school districts for the negligence of a school bus driver. This should not be confused with the legal term – “Sovereign Immunity”. When a person reads the term “Sovereign Immunity”, one may get the idea that a claim or case cannot under any circumstances be pursued against a government entity. The truth of the matter is that a case or claim can be pursued against a government entity like a school district when there is a school bus crash that is the fault of a school bus driver. “Sovereign Immunity” only means that there are certain notices and procedures to follow when pursuing a case or claim against a government entity. For instance, there is a required formal – technical 6 month notice that is required to be given to the school district. Furthermore, there are limitations as to the amount of compensation that can be recovered and there are restrictions or limitations on the attorney fees that can be charged by a Florida Child Injury Lawyer representing the injured child.
In St. Johns County, Florida and the other 66 counties in the State of Florida, children are transported to and from schools in school buses and vans. When there is a crash or accident, children are often injured and require medical care and attention. Some injuries even require the transport by fire rescue and at times by an emergency air lift. When a child suffers personal injuries, parents are faced with the challenges of medical bills, missed school, personal injuries, permanent injuries, and a whole host of other problems. When faced with these issues, it is often helpful to have the guidance, counsel, and legal representation by a qualified Florida Child Injury Lawyer. Some laws and insurance regulations make perfect sense while others do not. Certainly, school districts, schools, and insurance companies are well represented by a panel of attorneys. Because of this, parents should act quickly to get an advocate in place to give a voice for the injured child. Back to the question at hand, who is responsible for the personal injuries suffered by a child when there is a school bus accident or crash?
School District. If the school bus is owned, operated, or retained by a public school district, then the school district could be held liable for the personal injuries and damages IF it can be proved that the bus driver was negligent AND / OR there was negligence involved with the maintenance of the bus that was a contributing cause of the crash.
Private School Bus Company. If the school district contracts out to a private school bus company, the private school bus company may be liable if there was negligent driving OR negligent maintenance that was a contributing cause of the crash. The private school bus company, if hired by a public school district, may be able to avail itself of some of the protections of the school distrct as a public entity. As such, further evaluation and analysis are warranted under these circumstances. If a private school retains the private school bus company, no such protections are afforded the private school bus company.