Working parents rely on district-provided buses to get their children to school on time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a school bus is technically the safest and most regulated vehicle on the road. Not only are they designed to be safer than passenger vehicles, but most states have also enacted stop-arm laws to protect children from the actions of negligent motorists.
But accidents can and do happen.
Last February, a special needs school bus in eastern Montana was struck by a negligent driver in an uncontrolled intersection. Seven individuals were sent to the hospital with, thankfully, non-life-threatening injuries. Two months later, another school bus in Billings was transporting students to Skyview High School when it was rear-ended by an intoxicated driver.
The NHTSA estimates that 4-6 children are killed in school bus-related accidents each year, and countless other suffer serious but non-fatal injuries. If your child has been harmed while riding a school bus, you're likely dealing with countless medical bills and other injury-related expenses. To protect your standard of living and pay for your child's recovery, you may need to file a claim against the negligent party. But who is legally responsible for a school bus accident?
These types of cases can be incredibly challenging to litigate because multiple parties can be held liable for your child's injuries, including:
Your child's school bus is likely owned and operated by the local school district. Because the school district is considered a government entity, it may be difficult to recover compensation without the aid of an aggressive and experienced legal team. As a government entity, the school district is technically protected from civil liability by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, this level of immunity is waived in cases where a government employee - such as a school bus driver - is responsible for a traffic collision that results in injuries or fatalities. The process for filing a claim against a school district, or any government entity, is different from a traditional personal injury claim, so it's important to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible.
Per Mont. Code Ann. 27-2-204(1) (2019), a plaintiff has 2 years to file a personal injury claim against an at-fault party. Of course, there are exceptions to this law, so we recommend contacting a personal injury lawyer to explore your legal options.
If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, contact the bus accident attorneys at Odegaard Miller Law, PLLC today. Our trial-tested legal team can investigate the accident, consult with experts, and collect evidence to develop a litigation strategy that holds the at-fault parties responsible for your child's injuries and medical expenses. By taking legal action today, you can recover restitution that helps your child recover from this traumatic experience.
Contact Odegaard Miller Law, PLLC at (406) 259-2222 to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you don't pay unless we win!