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Wrongful Death Claims in School Bus Accidents

Casey Woodruff

Ischool busllinois Resident Killed in School Bus Crash

Should school bus accidents and fatalities be a cause of concern for parents in Champaign now that most kids are back in the classroom? Children can be at risk of sustaining deadly injuries in a school bus accident, but these crashes can also take the lives of nearby pedestrians and bicyclists. According to a recent report from Fox 2 News, a school bus collision in Illinois seriously injured one pedestrian and killed another.

The bus accident occurred on a weekday while the vehicle was carrying a group of elementary school children. The bus had been traveling westbound along a local highway when it struck two pedestrians, a 36-year-old female and a 45-year-old male. According to the report, the road did not have any areas that were particularly safe for walking, given that no shoulders really exist. The accident remains under investigation as Illinois State Police attempt to piece together the timeline of the crash. How common are fatal school transportation-related collisions? And can the families of loved ones who are killed in these collisions file wrongful death claims?

School Bus Fatality Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects records on school bus accidents and fatalities in order to analyze the rate of these collisions. The following includes some important facts and figures gathered by the NHTSA:

  • In the last 10-year period analyzed (between 1998-2008), nearly 415,000 fatal auto accidents occurred. Of that number, school transportation crashes made up only about 0.34 percent of those collisions (or around 1,400 fatal accidents).
  • While school bus accidents do not account for a large number of total auto accidents each year, these deaths are highly preventable.
  • A majority of school bus deaths occur to occupants of other vehicles (more than 70 percent).
  • Pedestrians are among those at highest risk of being killed in a school transportation-related accident (about 20 percent of all reported school bus fatalities).
  • Occupants of school buses only make up about 8 percent of all deaths.

If occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians are at higher risk of being killed in a school bus accident than are occupants of those school buses, what can we do to prevent these crashes? An article from WebMD recommends the following steps to ensure your child’s safety as well as your own:

  • Require your child to wear her seat belt on the school bus.
  • Make sure you child stays at least 10 feet away from a bus until it is time to board.
  • Before entering a school bus, look both ways to ensure a car is not approaching.
  • Do not linger near a school bus after stepping off.
  • Take five large steps in front of the school bus before crossing the street to ensure the driver can see you.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in a School Bus Accident

If a loved one does sustain fatal injuries in a school transportation-related accident, it is important to know that you may have options. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180) governs wrongful death claims in the Chicago area. Generally speaking, a successful wrongful death claim will be able to show the following:

  • Your loved one sustained fatal injuries;
  • Those fatal injuries resulted from another party’s negligence or intentional bad act; and
  • You have standing under the law to bring a claim.

Each situation has its own nuances, and it is important to have an experienced Champaign wrongful death lawyer assess your case. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to learn more about how we can assist you with your wrongful death claim.

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