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Distracted Driver Hits School Bus in Kentucky

Lexington personal injury attorney reports that a distracted driver hit a school bus in Kentucky

A recent Kentucky school bus crash sent more than 20 children to the hospital, and officials said distracted driving caused the collision.

The bus was rear-ended by a car on May 5 when the bus driver stopped to pick up a child in Salyersville. Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Stanley Holbrook told news outlets that the car’s driver never hit the brakes, indicating the driver wasn’t paying attention, and struck the school bus in the rear, pushing the bus 17 feet forward.

There were 47 children on the bus at the time of the rear-end collision. Six students were transported by ambulance to the hospital to be treated for neck and back complaints. Fifteen other students were driven to hospitals by their parents to be checked out.

This troubling distracted driving accident is a reminder of how serious the consequences can be when drivers take their eyes off the road. Thankfully, everyone involved in this accident was treated and released from the hospital. But that easily could not have been the case if the school bus was shoved into oncoming traffic, and innocent children could have been seriously injured or killed.

School bus crashes are not as commonplace as everyday car accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that children are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they ride the bus versus driving themselves or riding with a friend. Still, even one school bus accident is too many.

Between 2000 and 2009, there were 85 crashes in the United States in which at least one occupant of a school-transportation vehicle died, according to the NHTSA. It’s not only the bus driver and passengers who are at serious risk. Pedestrians are also in peril – particularly the youngest ones. The bulk of children killed in school bus accidents are typically boarding or getting off the bus at the time of the crashes. More than 40 percent of school-aged pedestrians killed between 2000 and 2009 were between five and seven years old.

Advice for Parents of Children In School Bus Accidents

If your child has been involved in a school bus accident, it is important to have a doctor examine your child as soon as possible. Even if your son or daughter says they’re fine, some injuries take hours, days, or even months before they become apparent. This is particularly true in cases of concussion or traumatic brain injury, where accident victims may feel fine initially after a crash but later may begin to notice memory loss, lack of concentration, double vision, headaches or other symptoms of head trauma.

Encourage your older children to report everything about the accident to the physician and not to omit any symptoms, even if they think it’s nothing. If your children are younger, watch them closely in the days after the accident and seek treatment immediately if you have concerns.

Depending on the circumstances of the school bus accident, talking to a personal injury attorney may be worthwhile. A consultation with a qualified lawyer will help you understand your legal options and the types of compensation you may be entitled to, which could help with medical bills and other accident-related expenses. The facts of the crash will also help the attorney figure out who should be held accountable for the accident. It could be a matter of filing a claim against an individual driver, but a careful review of the facts may lead your lawyer to consider whether other factors – such as whether the bus was properly maintained and inspected – played a role in how it responded in the wreck.

There is also the doctrine of sovereign immunity to contend with in Kentucky, which may protect some government entities – including school districts and school officials – from being held liable for accidents that occur while a child is under their care. In general, Kentucky courts have not protected individuals when negligence played a role in the incident that caused injury. However, it is essential to have a lawyer evaluate how sovereign immunity may or may not shape your case.