School Bus Dropped My Child at Wrong Place and She Was Lost. Can I Sue?


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Many parents have experienced the occurrence of going to pick up their child from the bus stop and him or her not being there. They may have missed a stop, fallen asleep on the bus or forgot their address. If a child is dropped in the wrong place, he or she may even go missing. When school buses make this mistake, parents may consider taking legal action.

Elements of Negligence Cases

The most common cause of action that parents may make when their child is injured in a school bus is that of negligence. Negligence elements are included in state legislature or the common law and may vary. However, the elements of negligence generally include: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.

Duty

The first element of negligence is that the defendant had a duty to the victim. This duty may be based on a contractual duty, such as the duty of a bus driver to carefully transport passengers to their destination. It can also be based on state law, such as driving laws that other drivers must adhere to. This duty sets out the legal responsibility of the defendant.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, there may be various defendants that may be named, such as the school district, private school or organization, school bus driver, private company that was contracted to provide transportation for the school, school bus manufacturer, automotive parts manufacturer, the driver of the other vehicle or others. The legal duty will vary depending on the defendant named.

It is often important to find out who employs the bus driver. He or she may be employed by a local municipality, a private employer, another government entity, a bus contractor or another. This designation will often have significant implications to the case.

Sovereign Immunity

If the school is a public school or otherwise run by a government entity, sovereign immunity principles may be involved in the case. States can determine when they will allow to be sued. In all other cases, the state government is immune from lawsuit. Immunity statutes vary from state to state. However, if the lawsuit is against a bus contractor or non-public school, these issues may not bar a lawsuit.

Breach of Duty

The next element of damages is breach of duty. This element requires the plaintiff to show how the defendant violated the duty that he or she owed the defendant. For example, the school bus driver may have been distracted, causing him or her to miss a stop. The bus may not be properly maintained, leading to an accident. A bus driver may be inexperienced or a substitute driver who has not learned the route. State laws may impose certain restrictions before granting a commercial vehicle license to drivers. This element requires you to show how the defendantís actions were not reasonable under the circumstances and what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

Causation

The next element of damages is that of causation. This element seeks to form the connection between the defendantís breach of duty and the accident that occurred. For example, this element establishes that the driverís distraction or inexperience caused him or her to lose the child. If an injury is involved, the inquiry will center on if the breach caused the injury and not some other cause.

Damages

The final element of damages is that of damages. For a person to recover, there must have been some harm done. In the case of physical injuries, damages may include medical expenses, time off work that parents missed to take the child to medical appointments and to care for him or her while recovering and other damages that may be based on quantifiable information. If the accident did not result in physical harm, states differ as to whether a cognizable claim exists. If the victim suffered psychological injury for being lost that resulted in him or her needing counseling, being fearful or not being able to enjoy favorite pastimes, there may be a claim for this. Some states require a showing that emotional distress is to such an extent that it causes a physical manifestation, such as getting ill before a victim can recover.

Legal Assistance for School Bus Accidents

School bus accidents can be very complicated. There may be a number of important legal considerations involved, such as whether immunity is at play and multiple defendants in sharing liability. There may also be a shorter statute of limitations involved in cases involving schools than in standard personal injury cases. A lawyer can help.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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