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Who Is Liable in a School Bus Accident? Illinois School Bus Laws

school bus accident in Chicago Illinois

It’s time to head back to school, and children across Illinois are riding buses to school, on field trips, and for after-school activities. The risk of collisions, accidents, and injuries to children is considerable as these buses are transporting our children five days a week, twice a day, frequently in heavy rush-hour traffic.

In 2021, there were 108 fatalities reported as a result of school bus accidents, with 75 of those deaths being passengers of other vehicles. Whether your child is a passenger on the bus or if you’re another driver on the road, there is always the possibility of serious injury when a school bus collision occurs.

If you or your child are injured in a school bus accident due to someone else’s negligence or a vehicle defect, you are entitled to compensation. 

Illinois School Bus Laws

Illinois Vehicle Code requires school bus drivers to hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) with the School Bus Endorsement. Federal school bus endorsements are not the same as Illinois regulations.

To qualify for an Illinois School Endorsement, you must:

  • Be age 21 or older.
  • Possess a valid and properly classified driver’s license issued by the Secretary of State.
  • Successfully pass a written Passenger Endorsement (P) and a written School Bus Endorsement (S) exam administered by the Secretary of State.
  • Successfully pass a skills/drive test in a yellow school bus of the proper class for which the driver will be using the Passenger and School Bus Endorsements.
  • Affirm under penalty of perjury that you have not made a false statement or knowingly concealed a material fact in any application for a School Bus Endorsement.
  • Not have been repeatedly involved as a driver in motor vehicle accidents or repeatedly convicted of offenses that indicate disrespect for traffic laws.

Illinois law may hold several parties accountable for determining liability in school bus accidents depending on the details of the incident.

Common driver negligence rules apply to bus drivers just like any other driver on the road. If distracted driving, reckless behavior, or failure to follow traffic rules leads to an accident, school bus drivers are responsible and potentially liable for the damage.

Depending on the situation, school districts and bus companies also have responsibility for the safety of passengers and other drivers on the road.

Chapter 13 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/13) requires school districts and bus companies to regularly maintain and inspect their buses to ensure they operate safely. If a mechanical failure or lack of maintenance contributes to an accident, the school district or bus company may be held responsible for resulting injuries or damages.

Other drivers must also remain cautious while schools are in session. The Illinois Vehicle Code mandates drivers stop when school buses pick up children and display flashing red lights. Failure to comply can result in fines and increased liability.

What Should I Do if I am Involved in a School Bus Accident?

You must protect yourself legally after a school bus accident as swiftly as possible. By missing one of these steps, you open yourself up to legal action and/or an inability to receive the compensation you deserve.

If you’re involved in a school bus accident, do the following:

1. Ensure you and others involved in the accident are safe. 

If medical attention is necessary due to injuries, call emergency services immediately. Since school children are potentially affected, having the appropriate personnel check on everyone is paramount.

2. Notify the police.

Once you’ve identified any possible injuries, it’s time to notify the police. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the accident. Once they arrive, the officers document and create an official report. This documentation is necessary for any insurance claims and legal proceedings.

3. Gather information about the accident.

Collect the contact information, including names, phone numbers, and addresses, of all parties involved, including witnesses. Note the school bus number, driver’s name, and any other relevant information/

4. Take photos of the accident.

Also, take photos and videos of the accident to capture any vehicle damage, road conditions, and all other details. These images serve as evidence if your case goes to trial.

5. Reach out to the school.

The school should have information on file for the children and the bus driver.

6. Seek medical attention.

Whether you believe you’re injured or not, seek out medical attention. Some injuries won’t immediately be apparent (adrenaline sometimes masks serious injuries), and a complete medical report is necessary when reaching out for compensation.

7. Consult with an experienced attorney.

Rather than go after an insurance company alone, consult with a personal injury attorney with experience handling school bus accident cases. FLT Law provides guidance on your legal rights, helps determine liability, and assists you in pursuing any necessary legal action or insurance claims.

Every accident is unique and requires personalized advice based on your specific circumstances. Acting promptly and seeking professional assistance helps protect your interests and ensures you receive the appropriate compensation for any injuries or damages incurred.

School Bus Accident Compensation

Like any accident, school bus accidents often lead to significant physical, emotional, and financial repercussions for the individuals involved. 

When seeking compensation for injuries and damages resulting from a school bus accident, it’s essential to understand the legal options available. 

Insurance Claims

In many cases, compensation for injuries and damages resulting from a school bus accident are pursued through insurance claims. 

This usually requires filing a claim with the insurance company of the school district, the bus company, and/or the driver’s insurance provider. Insurance companies rely on professional adjusters to negotiate and fight accident claims.

For all insurance claims, gather all possible evidence, including medical records, accident reports, images, and witness statements. When you work with the experienced car accident attorneys at FLT Law, our team helps you navigate the claims process to get the compensation you deserve.

Liability Determination

Liability in school bus accidents is complex, as multiple parties may be held accountable. 

Truthfully, everything depends on the circumstances. Sometimes liability rests with the school bus driver, the school district, the bus company, and other times with the motorists involved in the accident. 

Establishing liability requires a thorough investigation of the accident, including examining factors such as driver negligence, vehicle maintenance records, and adherence to safety regulations. Our team helps assess liability and builds a strong case to support your compensation claim.

Damages and Compensation

Compensation in school bus accident cases includes medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage. 

How much compensation you receive depends on the severity of your injuries, the impact on your daily life, and other factors.

Legal Proceedings

In some cases, if a fair settlement cannot be reached through insurance negotiations, you may need to pursue legal action through a lawsuit. FLT Law’s experienced attorneys with expertise in personal injury and school bus accident cases guide you through litigation, representing your interests in court and advocating for your rights. 

It’s important to note that there are statutes of limitations, which set a time limit for filing a lawsuit, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney promptly to protect your legal rights.

Who is Liable for School Bus Accidents in Illinois?

School bus accidents caused by defects in the bus, deficiencies in other motor vehicles, or the negligence of drivers affect who is responsible for the compensation.

Liability depends on the negligence and product liability laws of Illinois. It can be very complicated and require unique expert legal skills to sort out the details.

Don’t wait to contact a knowledgeable and skillful personal injury attorney who can protect your and your child’s rights.

Sometimes the negligence falls on the bus driver – fatigue, busy schedules, new routes, and overloaded buses. Further, distractions, drug and alcohol use, and erratic and dangerous driving are causes.

Other times the negligence rests with poorly maintained buses, improperly installed or maintained seats, brake failure, equipment malfunction, and road conditions.

Sometimes the bus company owners failed to comply with standards, including available emergency exits, roof structure, and seating arrangement. Fuel system safety, bus body joint integrity, or insufficient driver training may also be to blame.

Negligence may even fall on the manufacturer – in the design or manufacturing stage or due to a failure to warn of certain dangers associated with a vehicle’s use.

Determining who is liable so your child receives proper compensation requires a thorough investigation, a comprehensive understanding of the facts, and an understanding of the accident’s impact on you and your family. 

Chicagoland School Bus Accident Attorneys. We Help Victims of School Bus Accidents.

The Attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner Law are knowledgeable and experts in representing those who are harmed by the negligence or carelessness of others. 

We make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you – while you, your child, and your family concentrate on physical and emotional recovery.

If you or a loved one is injured or a victim of the negligence of others, please call my office at 312-487-4718 or contact us using the form below.

author avatar
William Turner
William J. Turner

William Turner has represented hundreds of working men and women who have been victims of the negligence of others – gaining equitable compensation for the medical expenses and pain and suffering for his clients. He concentrates his practice in the trial of complex personal injury cases, including car and truck accidents, construction mishaps, medical malpractice, dog and animal attacks, nursing home abuse, and slip-and-falls. Additionally, he offers niche counsel and advocacy for workers who are injured on a job.

William has obtained judgements from juries in approximately 150 cases and has secured fair and comprehensive settlements in even more over his career. William Turner has dedicated his professional life to fighting for the rights of those who are injured as a result of the negligent acts of others.

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