Wells, Purcell & Kraatz

Is A School District Considered Negligent If Their School Buses Aren’t Equipped With Seat Belts?

One of the first things you do when you enter a vehicle, whether it be a bus, car, or truck, is place your safety belt around you. This is to ensure you’re taking precautionary measures so that in the event you are involved in an accident, you are protected. Although there have been plenty of fatal accidents that have occurred where individuals were wearing their seatbelts, they do decrease your chances of sustaining a severe injury by half, according to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC). In fact, seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives in 2015.

Although we are aware of the benefits that come along with wearing a seatbelt, many drivers simply choose not to take those extra few seconds they have to put theirs on. What’s even worse is that many school buses are not equipped with the restraint devices as various states within the U.S. do not require their buses to be manufactured with them. This places the children riding inside them at a higher risk of sustaining a serious injury in the event the bus is involved in a collision. And there are plenty of cases where they are. Some instances where a bus crash occurred are shared below.

  1. A New Mexico school bus skidded off the road on its way to return the vehicle to the garage it was housed in due to the inclement weather. Luckily, there were no students on the bus and the driver along with a monitor on board did not suffer from any injuries, according to com.
  2. Another incident occurred just a few weeks back involving a motorist and a school bus driver in Maine. The driver of the car was allegedly riding with her cat on her lap and became distracted. She crashed into the school bus that was transporting 58 students, leaving some injured, according to Press Herald.

With an estimated 263,610,219 registered vehicles out on the roadways, it isn’t uncommon for individuals to engage in accidents. In 2015 alone, 888,907 of the accidents that transpired involved buses [Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration].  Although that number is rather high, the truth is, many lawmakers aren’t requiring that new buses be purchased with seatbelts. For instance, the LISD board of Trustees in Laredo, TX has already canceled a vote that was set to take place that would decide whether new school buses be purchased with safety restraint belts. pointed out that because of the high cost and a lack of a sufficient budget, the board decided that it was better they opt out. And although this school district hasn’t witnessed major bus accidents in the past few years, they do occur and children do suffer from both minor and severe injuries.

With the increased number of drivers out on the roadways, including those who are distracted and inattentive, the chance of engaging in an accident has gone up. It would be ideal that all school buses come equipped with safety belts to help keep students and others traveling on them safe and protected.

But, what happens when a student becomes harmed in a school bus accident but didn’t have a seat belt to protect them?

Can a parent sue if their child is involved in a bus accident where the vehicle wasn’t equipped with seat belts?

The answer to this question varies but can best be answered by a qualified bus accident lawyer.

One of the main reasons why individuals seek legal aid from bus accident attorneys is because they or a loved one of theirs was injured in an accident caused by someone else. Generally, negligence is a contributing factor and had the person been responsible and attentive, the accident may have been avoided. Because of the negligence that was associated with the incident, it is common for a personal injury lawsuit to be filed by or on behalf of the injured victim.

Take a school bus accident for instance. If a child is involved in a collision where they suffer from a traumatic brain injury or a broken limb, they might attempt to file a lawsuit against the school district or even the bus company. They could claim the entity was negligent because the bus didn’t have any seatbelts to keep their child safe. The fact is, the laws in each state vary in terms of when a person can file a personal injury lawsuit and the criteria that must be met for it to be successfully filed.

Victims of bus accidents should first know what to do after being involved in a bus accident and should then seek legal aid from a local bus crash lawyer in their city who can help them understand whether they have a viable case and how to approach the legal system in the event they do. The legal system is often confusing and complex and each case must be analyzed based on the circumstances surrounding it to determine whether the victim is entitled to file suit.

Share this Article


Get your questions answered - Call for a Free Consultation (817) 335-5525