According to the recent AJC article, the school district and bus company who supplied the driver continued to allow a driver who was the subject of complaints to continue transporting school children. After receiving several complaints about a bus driver’s dangerous driving and behavior, the school district in Hamilton County, Tenn., informed the bus company, the district said in a written statement released Tuesday. And it wasn’t a single conversation, but two, the school district said. Yet, neither the bus company nor the school district took any steps to take the alleged dangerous driver off the road until it was too late. According to the article, “three days later, the same driver was still behind the wheel and speeding down a narrow, residential road in Chattanooga — a road not on his route — when he lost control of the bus and crashed. The crash killed six children and injured 30 other students from, including two who remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon. The school bus driver, 24, was arrested the night of the crash and charged w i t h mu l t i p l e counts of vehicular homicide.”
The school bus driver apparently left the school building area in the bus shortly after 3 p.m., but before any students were dropped off, he ran the bus off one side of the road and back across before hitting a telephone pole and a tree, according to the article which cited Chattanooga police.
Due to the complaints and the resulting inaction, the bus company, and perhaps the school district may be held vicariously liable for driver’s negligence. In addition, a thorough investigation should be undertaken immediately to determine the practices and procedures employed by the bus company in the hiring of drivers and whether theses practices and procedures were followed in this instance. Under most state laws, the employer is liable for all of the negligent acts of its employee, and is further liable under an additional cause of action called negligent hiring if it turns out that the company was negligent in investigating the background of the driver or if it turns out that the driver was not fit to be behind the wheel of a school bus transporting school children to and from school. This inquiry is factually intensive and will almost certainly be developed in the coming months.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.