Glendale School Bus Accident Lawyers
School buses are expected to be the safest way to get children to and from school, but these large vehicles come with their own host of risks. Their size, weight, and length make them difficult to control, which is why California school bus drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate one and as school bus certification (SCH). In addition, they must pass a background check and annual checks with the California Department of Justice. When these drivers are negligent or a school district higher despite a record of traffic violations, not only are your children at risk, but other drivers are put in danger of suffering serious injuries.
Filing a claim against a school bus driver is difficult in Los Angeles County, as your claim will often go against the city government, but it is not impossible if you have the right legal representation. Your claim may also be against a private school, which makes the process less restrictive, or another private company that was renting the bus. To ensure your rights to compensation are protected and to hold negligent parties accountable, contact the Glendale bus accident attorneys at Aghabegian & Associates, PC. We have a thorough understanding of Los Angeles County accidents and can fully investigate all liable parties on your behalf.
School buses are often high-powered vehicles akin other large vehicles that can weigh anywhere between 10,000 and 36,000 lb, including the weights of passengers, fuel, and equipment. Because of their large size, they can be a particular danger to other drivers and pedestrians when a driver loses control, is distracted, or drivers under the influence. In contrast, occupants are usually the safest if another vehicle collides with a school bus due to shock absorbing seats that are designed to protect children. However, if there is a mechanical failure or the driver of the bus is reckless, there is a higher risk of injury for school bus occupants.
The factors that can lead to a school bus accident can include:
Driver Error: School bus drivers are expected to follow all the same rules of the road as other drivers and account of the size, weight, and speed of their vehicles. Buses have significantly larger blind spots, wide turning radiuses, and need the proper amount of time to come to a complete stop. If a driver gets distracted, is fatigued, or drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can easily crash into another car, strike a pedestrian, or hit a nearby object. In addition, inexperienced drivers can also fail to fully understand their route and might ravel down a road that has limited maneuverability.
Poor Weather: Even though LA County receives a large amount of sunshine each year, our drivers do not handle the shift to wet weather easily. School bus drivers are just as likely to speed during heavy rain or lose control on a wet patch or road if they are not careful. Fog in the early mornings can also result in pedestrian accidents, which can be catastrophic, even at low speeds.
Mechanical Failure: A school bus can develop a lot of wear and tear throughout a school year, which is why regular maintenance and inspections are required. If a school district or rental company fails to perform an in-depth inspection or schedule timely repairs, the vehicle could malfunction, leading to a dangerous accident that puts both other drivers and occupants at risk.
As mentioned earlier, school buses are specifically designed to protect children from injuries. Despite having safety features, buses utilize compartmentalization, which means that children are not exposed to dangerous seating positions on a bus. When a bus is rear-ended, they are likely thrown forward into another seat which has padding and shock absorption to prevent injuries.
The major risks are when a driver is negligent and loses control of a vehicle. They can veer off roads, crash into trees or buildings, or drive into oncoming traffic. These situations often end in passenger injuries, which can range from minor bruises and strains to serious neck injuries. In addition, if the school bus is an older model and hasn’t been repaired in some time, there are risks of a fire, faulty emergency exits, and damaged padding, which can all lead to serious injuries for your child.
Holding a school accountable for an injury is a difficult process compared to a private corporation or another driver. While we expect schools to do everything they can to protect our children, public schools are heavily protected from litigation by sovereign immunity, as they are government entities. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If you were struck while crossing the street by a Los Angeles Unified School District school bus, you could file an administrative claim against the county.
To file a claim against a school district in LA County, you would have to do so within six months of the injury. Your application should include your personal injury, when the accident occurred, why the government is at fault, and the related costs you have suffered. The school district then has 45 days to accept or reject your claim. If they reject, you then have another six months to file a lawsuit. In general, this is roughly half the time you are allowed to file a standard personal injury claim. Alternatively, if the school district does not respond, you have an additional two years to file a lawsuit.
While it is not impossible to file a suit against an LA County school district, it does involve a limited timeline and you should not hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible to get the claim process started. In contrast, if your accident involved a private school or a group leasing the school bus, such as a community or church group, your claim would be with their auto insurance company, which allows for a two-year filing deadline. These cases are significantly more flexible than government claims and allow for more comprehensive insurance policies.
To determine what type of claim you need to file and the individual process you need to go through, please reach out to the Glendale bus accident attorneys at Aghabegian & Associates, PC. Our firm has a strong relationship with LA County residents and provide personalized services to victims across multiple neighborhoods. Whether you or your child suffered injuries in a school bus accident that occurred in Hollywood or San Gabriel Valley, our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case and advocate for full compensation.
- School Bus Program - California Highway Patrol
- Transportation Services Division - LAUSD
- School Bus Safety - California Office of Traffic Safety
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