As evidenced by this recent news article which investigated the number of school bus accidents and how they were reported, many Georgia school systems are under-reporting the number of school bus accidents, which hampers efforts to properly investigate school bus accidents, the extent of injuries sustained by school aged children involved in these school bus accidents, and the resolution of these cases. On average, there are about 2 accident per day in the metropolitan Atlanta area involving school buses according to the Georgia Department of Eduction. However, due to the aforementioned under-reporting by the school districts, the numbers are probably higher. Considering that students are not required to wear seat belts while being transported on the bus, the risk of serious injury to students while riding school buses is high. In addition, school officials are not able to use accurate data to make decisions that impact student welfare and safety. For example, if the true accident numbers for Atlanta area school districts are not know, it makes it difficult for the school districts to make proper decisions about whether certain drivers need additional safety training, whether certain buses are not working properly and possible contributing to accident, or whether certain school bus routes are disproportionately involved in serious accident — and thus should be changed in the interest of student safety.
Even though students are not required to wear seat belts while riding the school bus, most school bus accidents involve only minor injuries. In these accidents, bus drivers are charged for negligently causing the wreck about 1/3 of the time. Common examples of school bus driver negligence which causes accidents are: following too close, not properly judging the clearance of the front of the bus while turning, and not properly backing the bus up and running into another vehicle while doing so. However, as we have seen recently, school bus drivers have also been accused of speeding, texting while driving and improper lane changes which have caused many serious injuries in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.
Since it is never clear whether the school district is operating the school bus directly, or the transportation has been outsourced, there are a number of potential road blocks for recovering for your child’s injury. Should your child be injured on a school bus, it is important to quickly gather all of the pertinent information and timely notify any governmental agencies of the potential lawsuit. This is known as an anti-litem notice and must be timely delivered to the governmental entity or the right to sue may be lost forever.