In early December, a school bus belonging to the Northside Independent School District (NISD) was struck as part of a four-vehicle crash on Babcock Road, near Wurzbach Road. An SUV struck the bus and was in turn struck by two other vehicles, pushing the bus on top of a gas main, which warranted a partial evacuation of the nearby area. The bus did have passengers, but none of the 11 children on board was injured, nor was the driver. Thankfully, no injuries or fatalities were sustained, but with school buses, accidents can be devastating. If you or a loved one have been in a bus accident, it can be very confusing to try and seek compensation for your injuries.
One thing that must be kept in mind after a school bus accident in Texas is that just because your child might have sustained an injury on a school bus, it does not mean that the school or the driver are responsible for that injury. Children are children, and sometimes injuries and accidents do happen. The injury is only compensable if your child was injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness (or, obviously, if someone else intentionally sought to injure them). If it can be shown that your child was injured because someone else’s actions were negligent or reckless, however, you may have a claim against the driver, the school, the bus manufacturer, or another actor, depending on the specifics of the situation.
The majority of school bus accidents that are held to involve negligence will generally get laid at the door of the school bus driver, who is the most likely person in most situations. However, if the school bus driver is acting within the scope of their employment, the driver’s employer (the school district, in most cases) will almost always be pulled into the case, because of a common-law doctrine called respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Texas law holds that as long as an employee is engaged in work within their “general authority,” and “for the accomplishment of the object for which the employee was hired,” their employer may be held vicariously liable.
Tort Liability Issues Exist
One other potential issue with bringing suit against the school district or any other public entity over a school bus accident is that a Texas law called the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA) actually prohibits certain suits from being brought against any state agency or organization. School districts are held to be “units of local government,” and thus protected by the TTCA from many lawsuits – the rationale is that if government agencies and entities had to spend all their time defending themselves against lawsuits (some of which would likely be frivolous, while others might have merit), they would have no time to actually govern.
The TTCA has explicit provisions that hold that if property damage, injury or death result from the “operation or use” of a motor vehicle, and if the employee would otherwise be personally liable to the plaintiff if they were not a government actor, then the immunity provisions of the TTCA can be waived and the suit allowed to go forward. While this covers a majority of school bus accident situations, especially if the driver is the alleged responsible party, it will not permit every suit to go forward, depending on the facts of your situation. Enlisting an attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a case which can be brought in court.
Reach Out to a Skilled New Braunfels Attorney
While we like to think of school buses as safe, the sad truth is that accidents can happen anywhere. If you or a loved one has been injured in a school bus crash, contacting a knowledgeable New Braunfels bus accident attorney can be your first step toward recovering for those injuries. The Bettersworth Law Firm has handled many of these types of cases and we are happy to try and assist you with yours. Call our New Braunfels offices at 888-392-0039 today to schedule a free consultation.