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School Bus Accidents

Philadelphia and New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers: Representing Victims of School Bus Accidents

The school bus injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law firm of The Levin Firm understand that representing school bus accident victims requires particular skills and knowledge, as well as an ability to understand your rights. Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey accident lawyers fight to recover the many types of damages and compensation to which our clients are entitled, including medical expenses, hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost earnings, future wage losses, lost earnings capacity, physical disabilities, scars, losses of limbs, brain and head injuries, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, grief, and pain and suffering.

Our school bus injury attorneys understand these issues and work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and othersto ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation, but also the finest support and medical care.

School Bus Accident Statistics

Every year in the United States, school buses provide almost nine-million student trips, carrying 24 million students to and from schools, field trips, and extracurricular activities. We put our childrens lives in the hands of school bus drivers, and expect them to handle this precious cargo safely and with a high degree of skill and care. Nonetheless, school buses are not immune from traffic accidents, sometimes due to the fault of bus drivers, and sometimes due to the fault of another vehicles driver.

School bus accidents are likely to cause injuries to their passengers. Due to their small sizes, students, especially young children, are more likely to receive injuries than adults. Most school buses are not equipped with seat belts, which also leads to the potential for more injuries. Furthermore, school buses, which are often overcrowded and require students to sit three to a seat, sit in the aisle, or stand, lend themselves to more serious injuries in the event of accidents.

Because of their large sizes and heavyweights, school buses that get into accidents are also likely to cause serious or fatal injuries to pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles. In fact, of all of those killed in school bus-related accidents since 1990, only 9 percent were passengers in the school buses.

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 caseusually 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 Fault in Serious School Bus Accident Cases

In school bus accident cases, the plaintiffusually the injured bus passenger, but in some cases an injured pedestrianbears 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 defendantusually the bus driverowed a legal duty of care to drive in a safe and careful manner under the circumstances
  • That the defendant breached this duty of careusually 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 defendants 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 onor well beforetrial 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
  • Plaintiffs case-in-chief
  • Defendants case-in-chief
  • Jury instructions
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury deliberations
  • Verdict

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 faultis 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 storyabout 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 plaintiffs direct examination)
  • The injured accident victims 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.

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