Philadelphia School Bus Accident Lawyer
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), over 40,000 licensed school bus drivers transport more than 1.5 million students to and from school each year in Pennsylvania. PennDOT’s most recent year of data reveals 312 school buses were involved in accidents in 2018 with more than half of all crashes resulting in personal injuries. Almost one-third of the accidents involved other motor vehicles including cars, trucks, other buses, and motorcycles. Read on to learn more about bus accidents from our Philadelphia school bus accident lawyers.
Among the more than 3,000 people involved in Pennsylvania’s 2018 school bus crashes, only one suffered fatal injuries. Yet, this isn’t always the case. At least 18 people died in deadly school bus crashes between 2010 and 2014 in south-central Pennsylvania.
School bus drivers provide a valuable service and transport precious cargo. In fact, school buses are 70 times more likely to get your child to school safely than if they ride in a car. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are the safest vehicles on the road. Yet, school bus accidents do happen and sometimes also result in fatality.
It’s far more likely you would get injured as another driver in a school bus accident than as a child passenger of the bus. Accidents might result from negligence on the part of the bus driver, but more often than not another vehicle’s driver causes the accident through carelessness.
If you suffered injuries in an accident with a school bus, or your child has been injured in a bus crash, Pennsylvania law entitles you to seek damages in civil court for economic and non-economic losses related to your injuries. A serious injury can be a life-altering event that causes emotional and financial stress in addition to physical pain. The school bus accident lawyers at The Levin Firm are here to assist as you go through this difficult time. If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, contact us at (215) 825-5183 for a free case evaluation to discuss your bus accident injuries and determine your eligibility for filing a lawsuit.
About The Levin Firm
The skilled personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm have been representing injured clients for fifteen years, including clients who have been involved in school bus accidents. The firm’s dedication to client advocacy and case preparation has led to the recovery of millions in compensation from court-awarded damages and settlements. Recent case examples range from $500,000 in compensation for a pedestrian accident to $1.5 million in compensation for a client who sustained severe injuries in a car crash.
These are only examples and do not guarantee a particular outcome for your school bus injury claim. Each case has facts that can add to or detract from its value, making it impossible to predict an exact outcome. The experienced team at The Levin Firm can promise, however, to pursue every client’s accident claim to build the strongest possible case against those responsible for the accident and injuries.
School Bus Accident Injuries
School bus accident injuries don’t differ much from injuries common to other types of traffic collisions. Yet, traditional size school buses are much heavier than passenger vehicles, which protects riders when accidents happen. Shorter school buses don’t provide the same protections for kids. In fact, regular size school buses are specially designed with taller seats to protect kids from injury if an accident occurs.
This design is favored more so that the use of lap seat belts, but when accidents occur at high speeds, the design and lack of seat belts might make injuries worse. The mass and size of a school bus can also do major damage and result in severe, sometimes fatal injuries when it collides with another vehicle.
Some examples of the types of school bus accident injuries that might give rise to a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Deep cuts and lacerations that leave permanent scars
- Fractured and crushed bones
- Head traumas, especially those resulting in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Neck injuries ranging from whiplash to fractured vertebrae or bulged discs
- Back injuries, which also include fractured vertebrae and slipped or herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries that result in temporary or permanent paralysis in some or all of the body
- Limb crush or amputation when arms or legs get pinned in a seat or car during a school bus accident
Liability in School Bus Accident Cases
Many school bus accident cases are complex personal injury claims involving multiple plaintiffs and/or defendants. Unless a student attacks a bus driver and causes a bus accident, it’s almost impossible for a bus rider (or the rider’s parents) to share liability in a crash. Yet, buses are commercial vehicles that aren’t always owned by the school district. In some cases, third parties own and maintain buses.
With different owners and maintenance personnel, some of the parties who might be fully or wholly responsible for a bus accident include:
- Driver. Bus drivers who don’t follow traffic laws, drive recklessly, drive under the influence, driving while distracted, or engage in some other negligent driving behavior might be liable in a school bus accident injury case.
- School district. In some parts of the Keystone State, school districts own their own school buses. This means the school board, school superintendent, or school supervisors might be named in a lawsuit when a school accident occurs, although liability would typically fall to the district itself, rather than on those individuals. A school district might be liable for an accident when it has poor hiring or training practices, or if it fails to maintain its buses to keep them safe.
- Bus company. When a school district does not own the buses that transport its students, a separate bus company often owns them. In a bus accident scenario, that sort of arrangement would put the bus companies at risk for legal liability if their hiring practices, training practices, or bus maintenance were inadequate and led to a crash, or if the bus driver, as their employee, caused the accident through carelessness or recklessness.
- Bus/bus parts manufacturer. A defective bus or defective bus part might cause a mechanical failure that can lead to a dangerous, and potentially deadly bus accident. In these situations, any party involved in the bus’s chain of distribution might be liable for damages under Pennsylvania law.
- State of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania law requires all school buses to have yearly inspections by the Pennsylvania State Police. If an inspector misses an issue with a bus and it leads to an accident, the court might find the State of Pennsylvania liable for damages.
- Other motorists. Other drivers have a duty to obey school bus signs and to take special precautions around school buses and in school zones. When careless, reckless, or negligent drivers aren’t cautious and break traffic laws, they put the bus driver, kids, and other nearby vehicles at risk for a severe school bus accident.
The Philadelphia school bus accident attorneys at The Levin Firm can review the circumstances surrounding a bus accident, and advise clients on which parties the client might pursue damages in a lawsuit. When a school board, a county, or the State of Pennsylvania is named in a case, special pre-suit requirements might apply. Your attorney can guide you through this process if applicable.
Recovering Damages After a School Bus Accident
If your child sustains injuries in a school bus accident, or you suffer injuries after a school bus collides with your vehicle, Pennsylvania law entitles you to seek damages for your injuries in civil court. Your eligibility for specific damages will vary based on the circumstances of your accident and the severity of your injuries. Some common damages school bus accident injury victims receive in settlements or jury verdicts in their favor include compensation for:
- Medical expenses including ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stay, surgery, X-rays, followup, and medication.
- Future medical treatment when a school bus accident leads to severe injuries requiring extensive recovery or a permanent condition or disability requiring lifelong treatment and/or healthcare.
- Rehabilitation services include visits to specialists like physical therapists or occupational therapists to help accident injury victims regain lost function from their injuries or learn how to cope with challenges resulting from the school bus accident.
- Assistive devices to help injured people with mobility including wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, and artificial limbs.
- Lost wages and benefits for missing work as a result of the school bus accident, injury, treatment, and recovery, which also includes compensation for parents who must miss work to care for an injured child.
- Lost earning capacity when a school bus accident victim won’t be able to seek gainful employment or return to their job, lost future wages might be included in a school bus accident claim.
- Home modification includes making changes to a victim’s home, so they can function after an accident, including building a main floor addition if the victim cannot use stairs, installing handrails in the bathroom and shower areas, and building a wheelchair ramp to enter and exit a home.
- Replacement services primarily apply to adults who are injured in a school bus accident. When victims cannot continue to help out around the house after a serious injury, they might need to hire outside help such as a lawn care service, cleaning service, handyman, and someone to help with grocery shopping and cooking. When the victim stayed home with young children, families might need to hire a nanny, after-school help, or use a daycare center.
- Non-economic damages vary from case to case, but can include compensation for harms such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss in the quality of life, and loss of consortium. Future non-economic losses also apply, especially when a child is severely injured in a school bus accident.
- Punitive damages are a type of compensation the court awards plaintiffs to punish a defendant. They aren’t a part of every personal injury claim, but if egregious negligence or intentional harm led to the school bus accident that caused your injuries, your attorney might advise you to include punitive damages in your claim.
In the rare, tragic event you have lost a child or other loved one in a school bus accident, you might receive compensation for some of the damages listed above. Eligible family members can sue liable parties for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit under Pennsylvania law.
In a settlement or verdict in favor of the plaintiff, eligible family members might also receive compensation for funeral costs and expenses for burial or cremation services. Additional non-economic damages also might be included depending on the relationship with the deceased. Examples include compensation for loss of guidance or support and loss of companionship. Your attorney will answer any questions you might have about a wrongful death lawsuit and advise you on the best path for you and your family.
Contact a Philadelphia School Bus Accident Attorney Today
The Levin Firm commits its law practice to advocate for the rights of injured victims, including those who have sustained injuries in a school bus accident. We understand the gravity of a severe injury and the physical pain, emotional stress, and financial burden it carries. Contact our skilled Philadelphia car accident lawyers today to discuss your potential recovery options.
Our skilled legal team is here to fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve for damages related to the accident and injury. We also know the economic stress medical costs and lost wages can put on a household, so we handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay our fees up-front; instead, we subtract them from any compensation you receive from a settlement or court-awarded damages.
If you or your child has been involved in a school bus accident that resulted in serious injuries, The Levin Firm can handle the details of your case, while you focus on coping with your injury and healing to the best level your body will let you. One of our skilled school bus accident lawyers can navigate the complexities of your case, including investigation, negotiation, settlement, and litigation, when a reasonable agreement about compensation cannot be reached.
If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, contact The Levin Firm online or at (215) 825-5183 for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances surrounding the school bus accident and your injuries. You deserve full and fair compensation for the losses you incurred as a result of another party’s actions.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Potential Defendants In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, And New Jersey Bus Accident Cases
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey bus accident cases, the defendant or defendants are the individuals or parties whom the injured accident victim sues in the case—usually for negligence.
These defendants are potentially responsible for causing the bus accident and bringing about the resulting injuries and damages to the school bus accident victim. In bus accident cases, the most likely defendants are:
- Bus drivers
- Bus companies
- School boards
- Counties (where the school is located)
- School superintendents or supervisors
- Other motor vehicle drivers who may have caused or contributed to the accident
A significant percentage of bus accident cases occur when a bus driver drives in a reckless, careless, negligent, or distracted manner, and collides with another motor vehicle. In other cases, the bus driver drives reasonably under the circumstances, but another vehicle driver negligently collides with the school bus.
Other serious bus accident cases may result from defective products or equipment. In those cases, the injured bus accident victim may have a products liability cause of action against a bus parts manufacturer or repair facility.
The Philadelphia school bus accident lawyers at The Levin Firm will review the facts and circumstances of your bus accident case and can make a determination about whom to file a claim or lawsuit against. If a school board or county is a potential defendant in your lawsuit, special mandatory notice requirements may apply.
Proving Damages In Serious School Bus Accident Cases
In school bus accident cases, the plaintiff—usually the injured bus passenger, but in some cases an injured pedestrian—bears the burden of proving negligence on the part of a bus driver, bus company, school board, county, or other defendant. To successfully prove negligence, the injured bus accident victim must demonstrate:
- That the defendant—usually the bus driver—owed a legal duty of care to drive in a safe and careful manner under the circumstances
- That the defendant breached this duty of care—usually by driving in a careless or reckless manner
- That this breach of the applicable duty of care caused the accident victim to sustain serious injuries and damages
- That the accident victim did, in fact, sustain serious personal injuries and damages
Potential Damages In School Bus Accident Cases
An injured school bus passenger may pursue monetary compensation for some or all of the following types of damages sustained in the bus accident:
- Medical bills
- Costs and expenses
- Lost wages (if applicable)
- Inconvenience and disruption to life
- Inability to take part in social or sporting events
- Past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Past, present, and future emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity (where applicable)
- Initial Settlement Offers in School Bus Accident Cases
In school bus accident cases especially, insurance adjusters may place an initial settlement offer on the table to try and settle the case quickly and cheaply. If this happens in your case, you should think long and hard before accepting such an offer, because they are usually far less than the compensation you actually deserve.
In many cases, it is far better to file a lawsuit at this juncture, essentially forcing the defendant’s insurer to place a better settlement offer on the table. You should keep in mind that merely filing a complaint with the court does not guarantee that a personal injury case will go to trial. In fact, many personal injury cases settle at some point on—or well before—trial dates.
Overview Of A Typical Bus Accident Personal Injury Trial
Bus companies and school boards oftentimes dispute liability in bus accident cases, and in those situations, it makes the most sense to proceed forward to trial. Always account for the length and stress of civil jury trials when deciding whether to accept a pending settlement offer or take your case to trial.
A personal injury jury trial typically consists of the following components:
- Witness depositions and jury selection
- Opening statements
- Plaintiff’s case-in-chief
- Defendant’s case-in-chief
- Jury instructions
- Closing arguments
- Jury deliberations
Although bus accident personal injury cases can always settle at any point up to (and including) the date of the jury trial, once the jury trial has reached its conclusion and the case has been submitted to the jury for a verdict, any pending settlement offers go away. Appeal rights in these cases are extremely limited.
What Happens During A Bus Accident Jury Trial?
On direct examination at a school bus accident jury trial, your attorney will most likely call you to the witness stand to testify. In addition, in cases where liability—or fault—is disputed, your attorney may call additional witnesses to the stand. These witnesses may include eyewitnesses to the accident scene, or expert witnesses such as doctors and other health care providers who may have treated your injuries. When you are called to testify on direct examination, you have the opportunity to tell the jury your story—about the troubles that your accident and injuries caused your life.
Witnesses in school bus accident cases often include the following individuals:
- A representative of the school board, city, or county, depending upon who owns the school bus involved in the accident
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Police officers and other investigators who arrived on-scene post-accident
- Eyewitnesses to the scene of the accident, if any
- The bus driver (often called as an “adverse witness” during the plaintiff’s direct examination)
- The injured accident victim’s family members or friends (if they are of age)
- The injured accident victim
Contact A Pennsylvania Or New Jersey School Bus Accident Lawyer Today For A Free Initial Consultation And Case Evaluation
Representing school bus accident victims requires a team of aggressive investigators and lawyers all devoting their maximum time and efforts to their clients. At The Levin Firm, our Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury attorneys investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member, or a friend who has suffered a school bus accident injury, call The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.