Both adults and children in Alpharetta rely on buses to get to school, work, and other necessary locations. Unfortunately, when a bus driver makes one minor mistake can put many lives at risk. If you or your child has been involved in an accident while on a bus, you may wonder what kind of legal options you may have to deal with medical expenses or other losses. You can find the answers by consulting with an Alpharetta bus accident lawyer.
Experienced bus accident lawyers know that different laws and rules apply to bus drivers. Passenger vehicles simply do not have many of the same responsibilities that a bus driver has. Our lawyers know what it takes to have a successful bus accident case, and we can put that knowledge to work for you. Learn more by scheduling a free consultation with one of the top bus accident lawyers in the state. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.
Are school buses treated differently from a legal standpoint than regular vehicles?
Yes. School buses are “common carriers.” That means the driver is held to a higher standard than a regular passenger vehicle. Because the driver has quite a few child’s lives in their hands, the duty of care that a bus driver must have is even higher still.
Bus drivers in Georgia are required to follow both state and federal regulations while driving the bus. They must also meet rigorous standards to even be permitted to drive a school bus. For example, Georgia requires the following for every driver:
- Licensed to operate a school bus
- Pass a knowledge test
- Pass a bus driving test
- Go through a physical examination
- Undergo a background check
Even with all of these precautions, bus drivers are still susceptible to the common mistakes that any driver can make, such as not following the rules of the road or inattention. And buses are large vehicles, which makes them harder to control and maneuver.
How common are school bus accidents?
Roughly 450,000 school buses transport over 23.5 million students every day in the United States. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 264 fatalities because of bus crashes in the U.S. for 2016. Of those, only 40 included bus occupants, and approximately 11 of these fatalities are children. The remaining individuals were outside of the bus, such as pedestrians and those in other vehicles.
In that same year, there were also about 35,000 people injured in bus accidents—and roughly 12,000 of those harmed will be children in any given year.
In other words:
- People in other vehicles, or pedestrians, are more likely to be hurt than people inside the bus
- Children appear to be more vulnerable than adults in bus accidents
- Tens of thousands more people are injured in bus accidents every year
And, unfortunately, school bus accidents in Georgia are relatively high compared to the rest of the country. Since July 1, 2016, there have been more than 700 school bus accidents. Those crashes have injured 302 students. School buses often don’t have standard safety features, like seat belts, which puts children at risk.
What are some common causes of bus accidents?
Bus accidents usually see the same causes over and over again. Most of these focus on “negligence.” This is a legal term that means that someone was careless or reckless, and they failed to fulfill a required duty. Common causes of bus accidents in Georgia include:
- Bus company negligence. Unfortunately, bus companies sometimes try to work around federal and state regulations because they are time-consuming or expensive to follow. When this happens, they often compromise safety. Many laws are put in place to protect children and other bus passengers, so if they are ignored, there is a higher risk that an accident will occur. For example, maintenance and upkeep requirements are sometimes ignored to increase the overall amount of profits that a bus company can receive.
- Bus driver negligence. Like every driver, a bus driver will make mistakes. The difference is that when a bus driver makes a mistake, they put more lives at stake compared to a typical passenger vehicle. Specific turning, passing, and speed laws all apply to bus drivers. Failing to follow any of these unique laws can lead to bus crashes.
- Blind spots. Like large trucks, buses have large blind spots that they must deal with on a regular basis. These are areas where the bus driver cannot see other vehicles or people around them. For school bus drivers, this is a particular problem because children often surround the bus at any given time, particularly when loading and unloading.
- Left turn accidents. Buses have problems with left turns because they must deal with a short-term blind spot while they are in the process of the turn. Bus drivers have special training on this unique issue, but it’s still a problem that can lead to accidents.
- Other drivers. You may be surprised at how many bus accidents are actually due to the fault of another driver. Buses are hard to stop and maneuver quickly, which limits their ability to avoid accidents in some situations. Other drivers should be aware of the unique laws that affect buses, such as stopping when the stop arm on school buses is out. This type of knowledge can help prevent accidents and keep children safe in the long run.
- Bus fires. When a hazardous condition occurs on a bus, such as a fire from a bus malfunction, panic may set in. This is particularly true for children who may not know what they should do if there is a bus fire. It is also difficult to get out of a bus, especially when the fire starts in the back where the emergency exit is located. The engine is responsible for 60% of bus fires, but those can spread quickly. Responding fast to get everyone away from the bus to safety is the best way to handle these situations.
Regardless of the cause of the bus accident, if a loved one is hurt while on the bus, your family likely has legal options. Talking to a bus accident lawyer will help you determine what your next steps should be.
Talk to an Alpharetta Bus Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience dealing with accident cases just like yours. We can help—and we never charge a dime unless we get money for you. There is no obligation to talk to our team. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.