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School bus drivers have the responsibility to safely transport children to and from school each day. Any parent who puts their child on a school bus each morning would be horrified to know that 118 bus drivers were caught driving under the influence in the last five years, according to a report done by the Pew Research’s Stateline.
In the cases identified by the report, most of the impaired bus drivers were under the influence of alcohol, while a third of them also had drugs in their systems. Testing for drugs and alcohol verified the intoxicants, but 260 of the bus drivers declined to be tested. The inebriation of the drivers was discovered in a third of the incidents due to law enforcement investigations following each crash. Three dozen children were injured in these accidents, and some had to be transported to the hospital for treatment.
If your child is injured in a bus accident caused by an intoxicated bus driver, your legal options are more complicated than they would be for a typical car accident injury. Normally, damages in a car accident are awarded through an insurance claim or a claim against the at-fault driver. When the driver is an employee, there are additional avenues to explore when assigning liability for the accident. Any party that is found negligent may be held liable. The legal theory of negligence requires proof that someone had a duty to practice responsible care but breached that duty, resulting in injuries.
In the case of an accident caused by an intoxicated school bus driver, a clear duty to execute responsible care lies with the driver. The breach occurs when the driver operates their bus while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If the accident causes injuries, the driver may be held liable. However, there may be additional entities who hold some liability for the accident.
If the bus driver is an employee of a bus company that provides transportation for the school children, the bus company may be held liable for the accident. This could be true if it can be proven that the bus company had a duty to properly screen its employees for a history of DUI incidents or to routinely drug test them. If it is found that the company breached its duty, the company could be held liable.
Similarly, if the bus driver is contracted with the school district or a government agency, that entity may be liable for the accident. However, bringing charges against a government agency often involves a complex process and strict filing deadlines.
If your child was injured in a school bus accident, you may be able to collect compensation to help with your child’s medical bills or other costs related to their injuries. Our accomplished Bear bus accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will help you execute claims against all liable parties, including the bus driver, the bus company, and the school district. Contact us online or call us at 302-834-8484 to schedule a free consultation. With offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we also serve clients in Elsmere and Seaford.