While the statistics involved are likely due, in part, to the number of miles driven on a daily basis by school buses state wide, our office has seen an increase in the number of cases involving accidents caused by school bus drivers.
Recently, my office settled a case for $1,900,000.00 as the result of the negligence of a San Juan Unified School District bus driver. The accident was severe, two persons were killed on impact, and this offices’ client was severely injured and required multiple corrective surgeries. One of the issues in the case was the driving record of the bus operator involved and whether or not the San Juan Unified School District undertook a significant enough investigation of the person they intended to hire.
Not long ago, another case involving a Grant Unified School District bus driver was also the subject of a $400,000.00 settlement and involved likely surgical injuries to this office’s young client. The driving record of the bus operator was again an issue.
Both accidents involved high-speed rear-end impacts caused by the large school buses involved, and resulted in very severe damage to the vehicles.
In addition, in accidents involving public entities (like a school district, or a state or county official) , there is an extremely short time line involved — which must be complied with or an injured party can lose the right to pursue the public entity or the bus driver for personal injuries, or even vehicle damage. In cases involving a public entity, persons only have six months in California to file a Claim with the public entity, and, thereafter, only another six months within which to file a lawsuit (shorter and/or longer periods sometimes apply). This is despite California’s Two Year Statute of Limitations which is applicable to cases involving individuals not employed by a public entity. Thus, public entity caused accidents are a trap for the unwary motorist who may believe they have two years to resolve their claims when, in reality, they only have a six month period of time to begin the process by filing a Claim.