All parents are apprehensive about sending their precious children off to school with strangers, even those hired by our school systems. To make matters worse, those “cheese limos” are no joke when it comes to school bus accidents in Tampa.
Most parents get over their natural fears and allow their children to wait at the bus stop and hop onto that larger-than-life vehicle. After all, these parents often rode buses when they were kids. They tell themselves that everything will be fine. There is no chance that the school system did not do their due diligence in background checks, right? An adult literally entrusted with the lives of dozens of youths would never drive carelessly or under the influence of alcohol, right? All drivers and pedestrians on the roadways and interstates will be cautious of an approaching school bus, right?
Often, parents are right — their children will not be victims of school bus accidents in Tampa, Florida. But if something goes wrong, a good bus accident attorney can help you and your family get the financial compensation you deserve.
Let’s first consider common causes of school bus accidents in Tampa.
Common Causes of School Bus Accidents in Tampa
Lack of seat belts — school buses almost always lack passenger seatbelts, or they are not in working order. This, combined with one or more factors that cause an accident, can spell tragedy.
Bus overcrowding — Tampa schools are overcrowded, like most schools in the United States. With more and more single-parent households as well as households with two parents present but both working, more and more children rely on buses to get to and from school. At the same time, school funding is being cut at the local, state, and federal levels. Consequently, school systems cannot afford to purchase as many school buses or hire as many drivers as they would like.
Speeding — the bus driver could choose to exceed the speed limit to get the children back home on time and/or other drivers on Tampa roads could drive too fast, causing an accident. Even a few miles over the speed limit can dramatically worsen the impact of a school bus crash.
Driver inattention — even the most responsible, trained, experienced, and sober school bus driver in the world can occasionally be guilty of this. Most children are a little rowdy on occasion during their formative years; some are rowdier than others. If the driver is distracted by a flying paper airplane or arguing children, this could cause or contribute to a bus accident.
Driver intoxication — no one likes to think about it, but it does happen. These days, intoxication doesn’t necessarily mean having a beer to calm the nerves before handling a bus full of children. Prescription and over-the-counter medications, marijuana, and drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin can cause intoxication. And of course, even the most responsible bus driver or parent cannot control what other drivers in Tampa ingest before they get behind the wheel.
Driver fatigue — generally, school support employees such as bus drivers aren’t paid well. It’s very possible a school bus driver has a day job, a night job, their own children or grandchildren, etc. An otherwise responsible adult could be coming down with a cold, compromising his or her reaction time. While entrusted to an important job, Tampa bus drivers are human. So are the other drivers on Tampa’s streets and highways. Even responsible adults have myriad problems in today’s fast-paced world, which can lead to driver fatigue. But drivers of massive vehicles like bus and truck drivers have a legal obligation to be extra careful on the road.
Defective warning lights — again, this could happen with the bus or a car, motorcycle, truck, or bike on the road. If one or both drivers cannot determine what is happening on the street, then school bus accidents in Tampa can be the unfortunate result.
How Can a Bus Accident Attorney in Tampa Help You?
The worst has happened. You get a call from the school or a police officer. Your child is in the emergency room — a victim of one of the latest school bus accidents in Tampa. You’re in a panic. Even once medical professionals assure you that your child will recover, nothing feels like it will ever be the same again.
To make matters worse, the school’s insurance company is eager to settle. They know they can’t keep something like a bus accident involving children silent, but they know from experience they can save money by strong-arming good people going through a terrible situation.
Do not make any promises to anyone, including a school official. Anything you, your spouse/partner, or your child says can be used against you. Know that some injuries do not show up right away. Also, it’s possible your child could suffer emotional trauma from the accident and need counseling.
Contact Denmon Pearlman for a free consultation. Like you, we are interested in your child’s welfare — now and in the future. Our firm has experience going up against the city government, the school system, and private contractors in Tampa school bus accident cases.
We try our best to keep your family’s case out of court. Most cases settle out of court without the emotional and financial expenses of a trial. However, if your case must go to court, we are ready to fight for you and your family.
To handle your case, our bus accident lawyers will:
INVESTIGATE THE ACCIDENT: Buses are required to have sophisticated black boxes on board. Black boxes are computers that record data like speed and acceleration. Black box data can tell whether the bus driver’s foot was on the brakes or on the gas pedal at the time of the accident. In many bus accident cases, we will retain a special expert called an accident reconstructionist to help us figure out what happened. The school district will also complete their own investigation at the time of the accident. Our bus accident lawyers’ investigation includes reviewing the results of the school’s investigation and interviewing all witnesses.
FILE A LAWSUIT: Most cases settle out of court. But getting a fair value settlement in a bus accident case usually requires filing a lawsuit. Our lawyers file lawsuits against the bus driver, the school district, and/or whomever we determine is responsible for the accident. Often, the lawsuit is filed against multiple defendants.
BUILD THE CASE IN LITIGATION: A cool thing about lawsuits is it gives accident lawyers important tools to learn what happened that led to this accident. For example, we can force the bus company to appoint a single person to “speak” for the bus company at depositions. We can ask for paper files like operating procedures and investigative reports.
SETTLE THE CASE: The goal of a bus accident suit is to get a fair settlement that addresses what has been taken from you and your family. That means money for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
GO TO TRIAL: Sometimes we need to go to trial to get the right result because we simply cannot reach a fair settlement with the bus company. At trial, we present all of the evidence to a jury and ask the jury to give us justice.
Costs for a Bus Accident Attorney in Tampa
We will not ask you for money upfront, and your free consultation is without obligation. With your permission, we will guide you step by step through the complexities of dealing with insurance companies.
We are available 24/7. Simply click on our Contact Us form or call 1-813-489-9576.