If you've been involved in a school bus collision, you may think that there is no hope in retrieving monetary damages. After all, you will likely be going up against a school district, who has lots of money in their pockets and may be able to perform tasks under the table that help them get off the book. However, it is possible to file a lawsuit and win, but you need to know what you're doing. This is why a personal injury lawyer should be by your side. If you are considering filing a legal claim, here are three questions that must be answered before you do:
Who Exactly Caused the Crash?
Following a school bus accident, it must be determined who was at fault. If you plan to sue the bus driver or the company that the bus driver was employed by, you must be able to prove that he or she was driving negligently. In some cases, it is clear who is at fault. For example, if a bus driver make a left turn and turned directly into the path of another vehicle, then the bus driver is almost always responsible for causing the crash for failing to yield right of way.
Is the Bus Driver Employed by the School?
If the bus driver is not an independent contractor and is actually an employee of a public or private school district, then you will want to consider the liability of the employer. If the driver was acting on behalf of the school at the time of the accident, then the school may be able to be held liable for the incident. This is known as vicariously liability and occurs when the employee is acting within the direct scope of his or her employment.
For example, if the driver was transporting students to or from school, then the employer may be held partially responsible for the crash. However, if the bus driver was in the bus running a personal errand or on his or her lunch break when the crash occurred, the school likely cannot be held liable for the bus driver's actions or the collision.
3. Are There Any Specific Procedures That Must Be Followed to File a Lawsuit?
If the school bus belonged to a public school district, then the district may have certain procedures in place. These procedures may require that you overcome certain hurdles before you are permitted to file a legal claim. For example, some districts may require that a tort claim be filed first. If you choose to go this route, it is often an uphill battle that isn't always a winner. The legal process is very complex, but it is possible to sue. However, you will often lose your rights immediately to any remedies if you fail to follow the requirements outlined by the district.
Because the law is so complex and you are trying to be compensate fully and fairly for the injuries sustained due to the recklessness of a school bus driver, you may want to consult with an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney (such as one from Antonucci Frank & Associates Attorneys). He or she can examine your case, determine if it has merit, inform you whether or not there is a good chance to win or if it is a losing battle and help guide you in the right direction overall.