School Bus Accidents: Who is Responsible?
September 3, 2019
Last spring, a school bus carrying 25 children was struck head-on when a pickup truck crossed the center line. Fortunately, the bus driver reacted quickly and was able to minimize the impact. Although the bus was totaled, the driver and all of the children were unharmed. However, the truck driver, who told police he had fallen asleep at the wheel, was seriously injured. Unfortunately, due to the size and weight of most school buses, it’s not unusual for these crashes to have tragic consequences. Here is an overview of school bus accidents in Michigan.
School bus accidents in 2018
- Across Michigan, there were 1,073 school bus-related crashes
- Four people were killed in these accidents; all were driving or riding in the vehicles that collided with the school buses
- A total of 336 people were injured in these accidents
- 40.4% (434) of the crashes happened in the morning, between 6:00-8:59 a.m.
- 33.2% (356) occurred in the afternoon, between 3:00-5:59 p.m.
- The remaining 26.4% (283) accidents took place during other times of the day
- Nearly 45% (481) of the 1,073 school bus-related accidents occurred at intersections
- Nine pedestrians and five bicyclists were involved in these crashes
What are the main causes of school bus accidents?
School bus drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license. They also have to comply with the drug and alcohol testing protocol established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. Despite these requirements, accidents happen.
Here are some of the most common causes:
- Distracted school bus drivers
- Distracted car drivers
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Pedestrians who don’t observe crosswalk laws
- Faulty equipment
Furthermore, children are more likely to be hurt in an accident due to the lack of seat belts on most school buses.
Who is responsible for a school bus accident?
School buses are considered motor vehicles under Michigan no-fault law. Therefore, most bus-related accidents follow the same guidelines as other auto accidents. However, because no-fault law is so complex, determining who is responsible for a school bus accident can be difficult.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits under no-fault
Usually, when someone is injured in a crash, their medical expenses are covered by the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits provided by their no-fault policy. This coverage includes 100% of all reasonable and necessary medical costs, including rehabilitation and home care. In addition, victims can receive 85% of their lost wages for up to three years and $20/day for replacement services. These benefits apply regardless of who was at fault for the crash. Children, who are often involved school bus accidents, are usually covered under their parents’ no-fault policy.
Medical expenses for people without no-fault coverage may be paid by the insurer of one of the other drivers or vehicles involved in the crash.
Compensation for pain and suffering
In some cases, victims may be able to sue the at-fault party for “non-economic damages” such as pain and suffering. The driver of the bus, their employer, or the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the crash may be liable. Or, if the accident was caused by faulty equipment, there may be a case against the bus manufacturer.
With so many variables, you will have a better outcome if you contact a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. An experienced lawyer will make sure you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.
Michigan auto accident law is complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.