May 16, 2015

Connecticut Lawyer: School Bus Crash Injury Claims - Connecticut - A few Things to Know

Connecticut Lawyer: School Bus Crash Injury Claims - Connecticut - A few Things to Know

Bus Crash Attorney Jason L. McCoy

Did you know that there is a higher standard of care for school bus companies? I am writing this because yesterday I read about a bus crash on 384 in Manchester. Often people just do not know their rights and have no idea about what is to come. I want people to understand the situation.

Many people do not know that the public school buses are operated by private companies not operated by the public school system. Over the years I have represented victims and their parents against school bus companies and against their bus drivers. The biggest mistake made is not to hiring someone with expertise immediately after the incident.  Why? Because the video's from the bus on the day of the incident needs to be secured and the evidence needs to be saved but the big student bus companies do everything possible to protect its big government contract as these companies first concern after a bus accident is the protection of its government contract and money not the victims and their families. I say the student bus company's money because often it is self insured, which is permitted under the law, but little known. 

The law in Connecticut is on your side if a school bus crash does occur. But the carriers will first look to protect its bottom line. Here are some of the laws in Connecticut that are in place to protect  injured students and their families.  

The Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557c established the Standard of care applicable to owners and operators of school buses:

"The standard of care applicable to the owners and operators of any school bus, as defined in section 14-275, or of any motor vehicle registered as a service bus transporting children to and from school or school activities, private or public camps or any other activities concerning the transportation of groups of children shall be the same as the standard of care applicable to common carriers of passengers for hire."

The Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557 provides for a recovery for Injury to children being transported to school:

"In any action brought by any person for personal injuries received while being transported to or from school in a vehicle owned, leased or hired by, or operated under contract with, any town, school district or other municipality, it shall be no defense that such transportation is in the line of governmental duty or is mandated by the state. In any such action brought against any town, school district or other municipality, the defense of sovereign immunity shall not be available and it shall be no defense that the transportation was being provided by an independent contractor."

The Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-281c requires that a Report of serious accidents involving school buses or student transportation vehicles:

"In each serious accident involving a school bus or a student transportation vehicle as defined in section 14-212, the police officer who, in the regular course of duty, investigates such accident, shall immediately report such accident by telephone or otherwise to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. In the event of any accident in which an occupant of a school bus or student transportation vehicle is injured resulting in admission of such occupant to a hospital overnight, the police officer investigating the accident shall report such accident to the commissioner within twenty-four hours thereafter. For the purposes of this section, the term "serious accident" means any accident in which (1) any occupant of the school bus or student transportation vehicle is killed, or (2) a fire occurs in, or there is a roll-over of, the school bus or student transportation vehicle."

In addition to the legal requirements of police investigation, parents of victims need to hire a law firm that will send out their own investigators, follow up on backgrounds, and gather witness statements. It is imperative that a letter is sent out putting the student bus carrier and the school on notice of the claim and demanding that the student bus carrier and the school preserve evidence such a video recordings and audio recordings and GPS tracking and operational reports.  Otherwise there may be a spoliation of evidence.  Also demand that any testing of the operator be preserved and made available to determine if drugs or alcohol was in play at the time of the student bus crash.  

You may reach us at the   Law offices of Jason L.McCoy, LLC (860) 872-7741.