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A recent crash draws attention to school bus safety and liability

Although children are generally safer riding buses than they are in cars, they don't escape every accident unharmed. The injuries your child suffers could lead to bills you can't afford - even with proper insurance.

Recently, a Killeen school bus was involved in a three-car crash at the intersection of State Highway 195 and Cactus Spur. Although the bus driver and students were all reportedly unharmed, the accident raises the question: Who pays for the medical bills if your child is injured in a school bus crash?

Determining fault when multiple parties each have a stake

In Texas, the courts and insurance companies review claims to decide how much each driver is to blame for the accident. In a typical car crash, this means the two drivers are each assigned a measure of fault, and the insurance companies pay based off that determination of fault.

The process becomes a bit more complicated when it involves a school bus because there are more parties involved. Instead of two drivers, you have:

  • The bus driver. If the bus driver is primarily at fault for the accident, you may be able to seek compensation from the driver's employer - either the school district or the outside vendor that the district contracts.
  • The school district. The school district may be held liable if the driver is a district employee or if the district was shown to be negligent with its bus maintenance or its hiring practices.
  • Manufacturer and maintenance provider. If the accident report finds that there was a flaw with the bus, some of the fault may lie with the bus's manufacturer or the company the school district contracts to perform maintenance.
  • The other driver. When the other driver is at fault, you might have to file your claim against his or her insurance. However, if all the other parents of injured children are doing the same thing, the driver's insurance may not cover all the damages.

It's possible that fault for the accident lies with multiple parties - each to some different degree - and it is likely you would want an experienced attorney to guide you through your options.

The odds are in your favor

The good news is that school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road. The NHTSA estimates that school buses are 70 times safer than cars, and tens of millions of students ride safely to and from school every day. When your child gets on the bus, you have every reason to expect to see him or her arrive home happy and unharmed.

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