School Bus Accidents in Virginia
School bus accidents in Virginia occur with an alarming regularity. Often large numbers of students are treated for injuries after a bus accident. Although serious injuries to students are rare in school bus accidents, the drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved in a crash with a school bus often suffer critical injuries.
In some cases, carelessness on the behalf of a school bus driver causes an accident. During the school year, it’s common to read about school bus incidents in Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Despite the large number of school bus crashes, Virginia has resisted moves to make seat belts compulsory on school buses.
Do You Need to Hire a Virginia School Bus Lawyer?
Accidents involving school buses can be complicated. Your child may have suffered life-altering injuries. However, these cases often involve dealing with a government entity and present particular challenges.
Students have also been injured getting on and off school buses. Some bus stops are poorly designed, putting students at risk.
School Bus Crashes in Hampton and Newport News
The Virginia Peninsula has been the scene of numerous school bus accidents.
- In 2016, a Hampton school bus driver was charged over a crash that killed another driver at the intersection of Settlers Landing Road and Pembroke Avenue.
- In 2017, a Newport News school bus was part of an accident that caused the driver to swerve and cross a median into oncoming traffic, colliding with a Toyota sedan at Jefferson Avenue and City Center Boulevard.
- In 2013, a Newport News school bus slid into a ditch at the intersection of Forrest Drive and Woods Road.
Who Can be Held Responsible for School Bus Accidents?
Depending on the nature of a school bus accident and the cause one or more of the following parties can be held responsible for school bus accidents in Virginia.
- The driver of the school bus
- A school district
- A church, private school or other organization that owned and operated the school bus
- The manufacturer of a school bus
- A third party or private company contracted to provide transportation for a school
- A workshop contracted to repair and maintain the bus
- The manufacturer of parts
- The driver of another vehicle
- A government entity responsible for a bus stop, roadway design, and maintenance
Bringing Lawsuits Against School Bus Operators
Virginia has a doctrine of sovereign immunity which is derived from English Common Law. It meant the King or Queen could not be sued. Today, sovereign immunity can allow local authorities and school authorities to avoid liability in lawsuits. To fight sovereign immunity you must prove an employee of a public entity was grossly negligent.
However, lawsuits have been successfully brought against cities in Virginia over school bus accidents.
Recently, a lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board settled for $2.5 million after a school bus driver ran over and killed a sailor.
A $7.5 million settlement was reached in the case of a motorcyclist who was hit in the head by the mirror of a school bus in Hampton Roads. He sustained a brain stem injury and fractures to his pelvis and leg.
Given the size and weight of school buses, other road users often suffer more serious injuries than the students inside a school bus. About 65 percent of people killed in school-transportation related accidents lose their lives after being hit by the school bus, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Many parts of Virginia are facing a shortage of school bus drivers. This means there are many inexperienced or older drivers on the roads who may be more likely to make mistakes.
Concerns also linger about the lack of seat belts on school buses. In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly considered a bill requiring seat belts on new school buses, with a goal of all buses in the state being fitted with seat belts by 2027. The bill did not pass.
However, Henrico County Public Schools went ahead and started fitting seat belts on its buses in 2017.
Hire an Experienced Hampton, Virginia School Bus Lawyer
Attorneys at the Smith Law Center have been helping the injured since 1949. Almost 70 years later founder Joseph Smith’s sons Stephen and Howard Smith own and operate The Smith Law Center with the same guiding principles of helping people hurt by the actions of others. Call us today at (757) 244.7000.
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