Florida School Bus Crashes
School bus crashes are, on the whole, uncommon. However, they have been on the rise in Florida, and when they do happen, they can cause severe injury or death, especially since many older models still do not have seat belts installed. If you or your child has been injured in an accident involving a school bus, it is a good idea to consult a Tampa bus crash lawyer, because they can be much more complex than the average auto accident.
Rare But Devastating
Statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) show a sharp uptick in school bus crashes in Hillsborough County between 2017 and 2018 – the total rose by approximately 32 percent, with an overall rise of almost 50 percent between 2012 and 2018. In addition, school bus accidents rose by roughly 26 percent statewide between 2012-2018. It is difficult to determine specific reasons for the rise in crashes, but at least some can be explained by the sheer rise in population and enrollment numbers over time.
Some accidents can be laid at the door of school bus drivers, but many turn out to be the fault of other motorists. Very often, impatient drivers will try to move past a slower school bus, or illegally blow past a school bus’ stop sign, which can put them in a position to not see pedestrians or drivers turning ahead of the bus. Regardless of who might wind up being liable, it is important to understand that you and your child do have options, if either of you are injured in an accident with a school bus.
Who Is Liable?
Unlike with most automobile accidents, seeking liability after a school bus accident can be somewhat complex because most school buses are owned and operated by public school districts, which are governmental entities. If you are injured in an accident with a bus owned or operated by a private school, you would likely file a claim with your insurer as in any other Florida no-fault case. However, if a public school is involved, you must make certain that you are able to bring suit against them in the first place, given that Florida honors a principle called sovereign immunity that renders governmental entities immune from suit.
Sovereign immunity is a principle of law that dates back to English common law, and it essentially shielded the sovereign (the king or queen) from being sued. The rationale is that if the sovereign was able to be sued, they would never have time for governing – however, most U.S. states have adopted this principle with exceptions, including Florida. Florida law allows for a governmental entity to be sued in certain instances, but if you are able to bring suit against the school district, be aware that you must comply to the letter with the rules outlined in the relevant law. Any slight mistake will generally cause problems for your suit.
Contact A Tampa School Bus Crash Lawyer
It can be a parent’s worst nightmare to hear that their child was involved in a school bus accident. If this has happened in your family, you need a dedicated and compassionate Tampa personal injury lawyer to speak for your family’s interests while trying to navigate this difficult process. The Rinaldo Law Group has years of experience working for plaintiffs to get them the compensation they deserve, and we are happy to try and help you with your case. Call us today for a free consultation.