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School Bus Accidents are More Dangerous for Those Outside the Vehicle

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

Was your child injured playing school sports?


The mere mention of a school bus accident can send chills down the spine of any parent, teacher, grandparent, or other adult with cherished children in his or her life. No one wants to think about putting children onto a bus for safe transport to school, only to have them involved in a serious crash.

School bus accidents are dangerous, but the nature of that danger may come as a surprise. It turns out that the children on the bus are among those least at risk in a school bus crash.

School Bus Accident Fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 1,353 people were killed in school transportation accidents between 2003 and 2012. Of those, only 174 (12.8%) were school-aged children, and just 55 (4%) were occupants of the school bus or other school transportation vehicle. The remaining 119 school-aged children were pedestrians.

Most school bus accident fatalities occur in crashes between the school transportation vehicle and another motor vehicle. More than 70% of those killed in school transportation accidents are drivers and passengers of other cars. 18% of casualties of all ages were pedestrians, most of whom were killed when they were struck by a school vehicle. About 20% of pedestrians killed in school transportation accidents were struck by another vehicle involved in the accident.

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The Most Dangerous Type of School Bus Accident

Pedestrian Casualties

More than 46% of school bus accidents that kill school-aged children occur when the bus is moving straight forward. That number is even higher—66.7%–for school transportation vehicles other than school buses. Another 20% of fatalities to minor child pedestrians occur when the school bus is starting in a lane of traffic. Surprisingly, a relatively small percentage of fatal pedestrian accidents occur when a bus or other school transportation vehicle is turning.

School Bus Occupant Fatalities

About 41% of school transportation accidents in which at least one occupant of the vehicle is killed are single-vehicle crashes. These accidents account for just under 37% of occupant fatalities. Just over 58% of crashes fatal to school bus occupants and 63% of occupant fatalities occur in multi-vehicle accidents.

The front end of the bus is the most frequent point of initial contact in both single-vehicle and multiple-vehicle accidents that prove fatal to school bus occupants.

Liability for School Bus Accident Injuries and Fatalities

If you were a pedestrian hit by a school bus or the driver or occupant of another vehicle involved in an accident with a school bus, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, establishing liability in a school bus accident case can be complicated. Often, the school district does not actually own the buses or directly employ the drivers. In that case, the school district will typically initially deny any responsibility for the accident.

While the outside bus owner and/or driver may be liable for the accident, that does not necessarily mean that the school district is not also liable. A school district may be held responsible for negligence of an outside contractor under certain circumstances, such as when the school failed to thoroughly vet the company to ensure that equipment was well-maintained and drivers were qualified.

If you’ve been the victim of a school bus accident, schedule a free consultation with one of our New York bus accident lawyers to learn more about how you can identify and pursue compensation from the responsible party.

Featured Image credit: Flickr

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