After a school bus crash, when does it make sense to file a lawsuit?
Some parents and at least one injured driver may be asking that question today, after a school bus crashed near Walt Disney World in Florida. The accident between a school bus and a PT Cruiser left 10 people hurt, including nine students on the bus and the driver of the PT Cruiser, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
If you're involved in a school bus accident -- either as a passenger or a driver of another vehicle -- you may want to ask yourself these three questions before filing a lawsuit:
Who was at fault? To file a successful lawsuit after a school bus crash, you'll likely have to prove the bus driver was driving negligently. Certain types of accidents are presumed to be one driver's fault, and insurance companies typically attempt to settle immediately. For example, the victims of the Florida bus crash will probably have a relatively easy time determining fault because the bus driver allegedly violated the right of way when making a left turn. Generally speaking, left-turn collisions are almost always the fault of the driver making the left turn because cars crossing straight through the intersection usually have the right of way.
Was the bus driver an "agent" of the school? When filing a lawsuit, you'll also want to look into the employer's liability. If the bus driver was acting as an agent of the school -- for example, when students are being transported on the bus -- the school could be held vicariously liable for the accident. The question for vicarious liability is whether the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment. The answer may not be so clear-cut in some cases -- for example, if the driver was on lunch break or was running a personal errand in the midst of her job-related duties.
Are you following the proper procedures to sue? If the school bus accident involves a public school district, there may be some procedural hurdles to overcome (like filing a tort claim and waiting for a response) before you're allowed to file a lawsuit. Generally, suing a school district is an uphill, often losing battle for plaintiffs and involves a complex legal process, as Educational Managment Consulting explains. When you don't carefully follow the requirements, you may lose your right to remedies.