Child Hit By School Bus Law: Here’s What To Know
When a child is hit by a school bus in Michigan and injured, the child and family will be able to recover pain and suffering compensation and money for medical expenses over No-Fault from the school bus driver, the school bus’s owner, the school district and other responsible parties. The child will also be eligible to recover No-Fault benefits to cover medical expenses.
Cases where a child is hit by a school bus are always tragic. Unfortunately, the tragedy is often compounded by the complexity of these cases that make a school bus accident more complicated than a more typical auto accident. Complicating factors can include identifying all of the responsible parties and potentially litigating governmental immunity defenses. Finally, an attorney must know the federal safety regulations as they apply to school buses.
That is why when it comes to cases like these where children are hit by a school bus, it is more important than ever to hire a skilled and experienced school bus accident attorney to protect your child and look after his or her legal rights.
Pain and suffering after a child hit by school bus
If your child was hit by a school bus, under Michigan’s auto law you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering damages from the at-fault school bus driver whose negligence injured your child as well as from the driver’s employer and the owner of the school bus.
Pain and suffering compensation may include damages for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Fright and shock
- Inability to be with and socialize with family and friends
In your lawsuit, you may also be able to recover excess medical expenses that are not covered by the No-Fault auto insurance policy that applies to your child’s claim for No-Fault benefits.
Who do you sue for a child hit by a school bus?
To recover pain and suffering compensation after your child has been hit by a school bus, you may be able to sue: (1) the at-fault driver; (2) the bus’s owner; (3) the school bus driver’s employer; and/or (4) the school bus maintenance company.
If the driver works for the local school district and/or if the school bus is owned by the local school district, your claims may have to be brought under an exception to the law that grants governmental agencies immunity from tort liability. (See 691.1407(1))
One exception to governmental immunity is the “motor vehicle exception” which provides that “governmental agencies shall be liable for bodily injury and property damage resulting from the negligent operation by any officer, agent, or employee of the governmental agency, of a motor vehicle of which the governmental agency is owner . . .” (MCL 691.1405)
Another exception to governmental immunity is the “governmental employee exception” which provides that “each . . . employee of a governmental agency . . . is immune from tort liability for an injury to a person or damage to property caused by the . . . employee . . . while in the course of employment or service” unless the employee’s conduct “amount[s] to gross negligence that is the proximate cause of the injury or damage.” (MCL 691.1407(2))
What if distracted driving causes a child to be hit by a school bus?
If a child is hit by a school bus whose driver was texting or using a cell phone at the time the child was injured, then the school bus driver’s violation of the law may be proof of negligence. Michigan law bars school bus drivers from texting and using a cell phone while driving a school bus. (MCL 257.602b(2) and (3))
Because a school bus driver is required to have a commercial driver’s license or CDL (MCL 257.1849(2); 257.312e(5)(f); 49 CFR Part 383), the federal safety regulations for CDL drivers also prevent school bus drivers from texting or using a cell phone while driving a school bus.
Research has shown that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Additionally, dialing a hand-held cell phone while driving makes a driver 12 times more likely to crash.
Notice requirements after a child hit by school bus
If a child is hit by a school bus that is owned by a regional transportation authority such as DDOT, SMART or CATA, a written notice of the bus accident must be served on the transportation authority within 60 days of the bus accident. (MCL 124.419)
Complying with this bus notice requirement is essential to preserving a child’s right to sue for pain and suffering compensation, “excess” No-Fault medical benefits and possibly other economic damages. (MCL 124.419) Failure to file the notice will disqualify you from suing.
If a child is hit by a school bus owned by the State of Michigan, a personal injury claim against the state – or a notice of intent to file a personal injury claim against the state – must be filed with the Court of Claims within 6 months of the accident. (MCL 600.6431(1-3))
Michigan No-Fault benefits for a child hit by school bus
A child who has been hit by a school bus is entitled to No-Fault benefits to help his or her family pay for medical bills and expenses related to injuries the child suffered in the school bus accident. No-Fault benefits will cover care as well as medical-related transportation costs and attendant care.
To make a claim for No-Fault benefits after your child has been hit by a school bus, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called your “written notice of injury” – with the responsible car insurance company within one (1) year after the school bus accident. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
Unfortunately, if you fail to file your application on time – within ONE YEAR from the date of your automobile crash – then you will forever lose any benefits to which you might be entitled.
The responsible auto insurance company will generally be the insurer for the child’s parent or parents or for a relative that lives in the same home as the child. In the event that No-Fault insurance coverage is not available through those sources, then benefits will need to be sought through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1); 500.3115)
Need an experienced accident lawyer’s help after your child was hit by a school bus? Call Michigan Auto Law for a free consultation
If your child was hit by a school bus and you have questions about your child’s and your family’s legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, you can call toll free anytime 24/7 at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our experienced bus accident attorneys. You can also get help by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.