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As family, friends, and the community mourn in the aftermath of last month's fatal school bus crash in Tennessee, the parents of victims are beginning to file lawsuits against the bus operator. The school bus struck a mailbox and utility pole, flipped onto its side, then hit a tree. The tragic crash left six young children dead, and numerous other children injured.
As of this week, three lawsuits have been filed against the school bus operator. The lawsuits allege that the bus was not driven safely, and that the resulting injuries are a result of the unsafe operation. The most recent case was filed by the parents of a young girl that suffered a traumatic brain injury which will require life-long care.
Are School's Liable for Injuries in School Bus Accidents
A school and school district can potentially be liable for any injury that occurs as a result of a school bus accident or any other accident on the premises or while a child is in the school's care and custody. An exception may exist if the accident was caused by another driver. In that case, the other driver would more than likely be liable. Schools have special duties to ensure the safety of their students even on the bus. So in any situation where the school or their employee or agent was negligent, there may be liability.
When Do Children Have to Sue for Injuries?
While the statute of limitations can prevent an adult from recovering for an injury if they do not file a lawsuit within the time provided by each state, it operates a little differently for minors. The statute of limitations for minors generally does not begin to run until a minor is no longer minor. When a child becomes 18 and becomes a legal adult, all statutes of limitations from childhood begin to run. So if an eight year old is injured in a car accident, and the state has a two year statute of limitation, that eight year old will have until they are 20 years old to file a lawsuit for those injuries. Parents can step in most situations however.
However, in situations where the injury is severe and the parents need assistance with paying current medical bills, the court can appoint a guardian to act as the legal decision maker for a child (Guardian ad Litem). When a minor receives a settlement or verdict, generally a court will ensure that the money is protected for the use and care of the minor.