North Carolina School Bus Accident Attorney
Millions of students across the nation rely on buses to get to and from school every day. However, while these vehicles should be safe, hundreds of school bus accidents happen each year in North Carolina alone. These crashes may result from bus driver negligence, as well as illegal or negligent actions from drivers of other vehicles. School bus accidents are often particularly devastating due to the number of people involved, many of the them children. However, parents may be able to file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver or school district on behalf of an injured child in order to collect compensation for medical bills and other expenses.
At Riddle & Brantley, our team of North Carolina personal injury lawyers has helped injury victims for more than 30 years. We have successfully handled all types of motor vehicle accident cases, including several personal injury matters involving school buses and school bus stops in North Carolina. In one case, a school bus accident lawyer from our firm represented two teenagers who sustained injuries while using a crosswalk in front of their school. Partner Gene Riddle resolved the case for a settlement of $700,000. He also established a Special Needs Trust for one of the victims.
How Often Do School Bus Accidents Happen in North Carolina?
Many North Carolina school kids rely on buses for transportation. Data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction indicates that school buses transport over 792,900 students to and from school statewide each year. However, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT), there are approximately 770 school bus crashes causing over 720 personal injuries and more than 10 fatalities statewide each year.
Common Causes of School Bus Accidents
Although mechanical errors may cause or contribute to school bus accidents, most of these crashes result from driver negligence. This negligence can be on the part of the bus driver or the driver of another vehicle. Some of the most common causes of school bus accidents include:
- Distracted driving. North Carolina law bans school bus drivers from all cell phone use while driving to reduce distracted driving accidents. However, other drivers may fail to notice a school bus’s warning lights, causing a serious crash.
- Driver fatigue. If a school bus driver does not get enough sleep, he or she may make dangerous mistakes behind the wheel. Additionally, other drivers on the road may be drowsy. This is especially true in the early mornings when buses are picking up children before school.
- Driver error. Under state law, vehicles approaching from either direction must stop and wait when a school bus stops and displays its mechanical stop sign or flashing red lights. However, sometimes a negligent driver may fail to stop. Worse, a driver may try to go around a stopped school bus. In either case, the children being picked up or dropped off by the bus can be hit crossing the road. This can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
What Types of Injuries Can Result from School Bus Accidents?
Research from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) sheds light on national trends where school bus accidents led to fatalities. From 2003 to 2012, 174 school-age children died in school-transportation-related crashes. Of those, 55 were occupants of school transportation vehicles and 119 were pedestrians. Seventy percent of the pedestrians were struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses, and 30 percent were hit by other vehicles, such as passenger cars, light trucks and vans, large trucks and motorcycles.
When school buses and motor vehicles collide, bus occupants can suffer a wide range of injuries. These may include:
- facial injuries,
- head and traumatic brain injuries,
- neck injuries,
- internal injuries,
- back injuries,
- spinal cord injuries and paralysis,
- as well as severe lacerations and disfigurement.
Children struck by a vehicle while boarding or getting off a school bus are completely unprotected and vulnerable to serious injuries, as is the case in any pedestrian accident. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), various factors determine the severity of injuries in pedestrian accidents. These include the vehicle’s speed, angle of the impact, and which part of the body the vehicle strikes first.
Children are shorter than adults and have higher centers of gravity. NIH reports that researchers found that, aside from superficial injuries, the most common pedestrian accident injuries in children are head and neck injuries (34.6 percent). The second most common are musculoskeletal injuries (22.2 percent).
School buses are generally much larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. Therefore, in most school bus accidents, the bus usually sustains less damage than the other vehicles involved. However, children typically do not wear seatbelts when riding a school bus. As a result, students can still sustain serious personal injuries even if the bus is relatively unscathed.
Child Hurt by a Negligent Driver? Call a NC School Bus Accident Lawyer
School bus accidents are complex cases. If your child sustained injuries in a bus crash, you need a knowledgeable North Carolina school bus accident attorney who has experience with this type of personal injury claim. Our trial lawyers are well-versed in tort law and North Carolina personal injury cases filed against governmental entities. We also have a history of success with school bus crash cases and other motor vehicle accident claims as well.
Our personal injury attorneys accept school bus accident cases nationwide from our offices in North Carolina. Contact us online or call one of our locations in Raleigh, Jacksonville, Goldsboro or Kinston to schedule a free consultation.