School Bus Accidents Prompt Stricter Penalties for Careless Drivers

School buses should always be approached with caution to keep nearby children safe. Whether kids are onboard the vehicle, crossing the street to get to the bus doors, or walking along to sidewalk to get back home, they are susceptible to traffic dangers if drivers are not careful. One careless mistake could result in lasting, fatal repercussions, which is why Indiana lawmakers have taken action to enforce school bus safety via criminal penalties and other legal means.

In this blog, we discuss a few of the recent school bus accidents that helped prompt the enforcement of stricter school bus safety, and we dive into the penalties negligent drivers could potentially face. Most importantly, we explain what you can do if your child was injured in a school bus accident.

School Bus Accidents: A Tragic Problem

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children are about 70 times more likely to stay safe during a school bus ride than they are if they travel by car. However, when school bus incidents do occur, they tend to be serious and jarring.

In October of 2018, three children were killed at a Northern Indiana school bus stop when a truck driver ignored the stop-arm and struck 4 children. Three of those children, 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her twin brothers Xavier and Mason, were fatally injured, while a fourth victim suffered serious injuries but ultimately survived. The driver, Alyssa Shepherd, faces criminal charges for three accounts of reckless homicide, as well as other related crimes. She claims she didn’t see the school bus and hadn’t realized children were crossing the road.

Another devastating bus accident involved a 17-year-old high school student who was struck by a vehicle when crossing Michigan Road in Indianapolis to board his school bus. Even though students on the bus told the driver that another student had been hit just outside, the driver left drove on and did not attempt to call 911 for the injured teen.

The bus driver had also made recent changes to the bus route, forcing the injured student, who was disabled after he lost his leg in a battle against childhood cancer, to cross the street to board the bus. If the driver had stuck to the original route, the injured teen would never have been required to cross the street to board.

As a result of the accident, the injured teen suffered disfiguring, permanent leg injuries.

Our very own legal team at Tabor Law Firm, LLP represented the injured teen and his mother in a claim against the school bus driver, the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township and the driver who hit him. We successfully secured a settlement for the student and his mother, though his damages remained life-altering.

Stiffer Penalties for School Bus Law Violators

Although these recent school bus-related accidents are nothing short of tragic, the bright side is, they have helped prompt necessary change for Indiana legislatures. Laws now hold drivers who violate school bus laws to more serious criminal penalties, which should help discourage reckless drivers from making such dangerous decisions.

One of the biggest issues regarding school bus accidents is the ignorance of the stop-arm law. Stop-arms, the stop signs that pop out along the side of school buses, are intended to stop traffic so that school children can safely cross the street and board or exit the bus. Some drivers, however, ignore this stop-arm and pass the bus, endangering all of the students in the immediate area. If police find drivers ignoring stop-arm laws, they can issue a ticket, which may result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

Learn more about the Stop for School Buses Act on our blog.

Any driver found illegally passing a stopped school bus may face charges for a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a penalty of up to 1 year of imprisonment and $5,000 in fines. However, if that driver’s refusal to stop results in any injuries, the charge may increase to a Level 6 felony, which can result in up to 2 and a half years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

To learn more about the new penalties for dangerous driving around school buses, read the full article here.

Need Help After a Bus Accident? We’re Here For You.

At Tabor Law Firm, LLP, our attorneys have ample experience fighting for the rights of injured victims and their families. We understand how traumatizing bus-related accidents can be and we know that watching your child suffer is an impossibly difficult pain. If your child was injured in a school bus-related accident, especially if that injury involved an ignored stop-arm, careless bus driver, or any other form of negligence, we want to help you fight for justice and compensation.

Worse still, we know that some parents lose their children to fatal bus accidents, an experience that all too many families share. If your child was killed in a school bus incident, our firm can use our ample resources and experience to build a strong case in your child’s favor in order to hold the liable party responsible for their actions.

We know that no amount of compensation can erase the pain your family has suffered, but taking legal action can help you find peace, closure, and recompense to cover funeral expenses, outstanding medical bills, and more.

If you have a case, our firm is here to help. Contact Tabor Law Firm, LLPto schedule a free initial consultation with our compassionate lawyers.

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