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Can I Sue if My Child Is Hurt in a School Bus Accident in Colorado?

02/26/2021

School bus accidents are one of the biggest nightmares for any parent. You have been told that school buses are safer than driving your child to school. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Administration states that children are 70 times safer in a school bus than in a passenger car. However, as any personal injury lawyer in Denver has experienced time and time again, school bus crashes do happen, and they cause terrible injuries to children. We ask ourselves, can I sue if my child is hurt in a school bus accident in Colorado?

Apart from severe physical injuries, children hurt in an auto accident are likely to develop emotional and cognitive issues, including PTSD. As a parent, you have the right and duty to seek justice for your child. According to the law, you have the right to sue on behalf of your minor child (under 18 years old).

However, school bus crashes are complex cases, because they do not involve an individual driver, but several governmental entities. In order to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, you should hire an experienced attorney at Firouzbakht Law Firm.

Examples of Negligence Leading to Preventable School Bus Crashes

If your child was hurt in a school bus crash, you need to demonstrate negligence in your legal claim. The most common types of negligence leading to a school bus collision are:

  • Reckless school bus driver
  • school bus injuries caused by insufficiently trained and screened driver by the bus company
  • drowsy, incapacitated or DUI driver
  • school buses over capacity (too many students inside)
  • poorly maintained vehicle used as a school bus
  • vehicle with a design or manufacturing fault.

In each of this cases a Colorado school accident lawyer at Firouzbakht Law Firm can help you prepare your lawsuit and win your case in court..

Colorado Law on School Buses

A school bus in Denver has rolled over due to an accident

The operation of school buses is regulated in the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 42 Part 19. One of the most important conditions in school bus drivers' certification states that they require special training, approved by the department of education. Further, rules provide instructions for other drivers sharing the road with  a school bus with respect to:

  • signaling
  • passing
  • stopping.

At the same time, school bus drivers have to comply with clear regulations concerning stopping to discharge passengers. Thus, you may have a case against the negligent school bus driver even if the vehicle taking kids to school was stopped when the accident occurred. An experienced personal injury attorney will analyze the circumstances of the accident and offer you the best recommendations.

Whom Can You Sue?

Any road accident involving a bus or other forms of public transportation poses special challenges. Your first instinct is to sue the bus driver or the other motorist involved in the accident. However, each of them will carry insufficient liability insurance to provide adequate and fair compensation to all the victims of the crash. Due to the large capacity of buses, we are not talking about 2-3 victims, but dozens in the worst case scenario.

In reality, a comprehensive personal injury lawsuit if your child is hurt in a school bus accident should include as defendants, as applicable:

  • the school bus company
  • the school district
  • the school bus manufacturer.

However, bringing a tort liability case against governmental authorities is not simple at all, as there are regulations limiting your freedom of action in this respect.

What You Need to Know about the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act

 The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) offers immunity to local government agencies and their employees for certain personal injury claims. However, there are certain waivers included in the act. These waivers allow such local government employees, school district administrators for instance, to be held liable in tort cases.

Among these waivers, CGIA stipulates "the operation of a publicly owned or leased motor vehicle, except emergency vehicles". School buses fall in the category of such motor vehicles.

Other important stipulations of CGIA include:

  • a reduced statute of limitations - 182 days (instead of 2 years) to file a written notice after discovering the injury
  • maximum liability of $387,000 per person per occurrence
  • maximum liability of $1,093,000 per injury with multiple persons per occurrence.

The maximum liability amounts are adjusted for inflation every 4 years. The values we specify in this article are valid until the end of 2021.

How a Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

For any parent, assessing the damage suffered by their child in a bus accident is nearly impossible. It is a frightening event, and your emotions are running high. However, you need to act quickly, because you do not have 730 days (the equivalent of 2 years) to file a claim, but only 180 days.

Also, taking the public school district to court requires in-depth knowledge of the law. Schools have law firms representing them. Thus, you need an experienced lawyer to fight for you and counteract their arguments.

While you and your family are looking after your injured child, your lawyer will do the following:

1. Document the Circumstances of the Accident

In a tort case, proving negligence is essential. An attorney knows where to look and whom to talk to in order to ascertain how the school bus collision happened and why. This includes:

  • Reading the police report
  • talking to witnesses
  • obtaining video footage from traffic cameras
  • if necessary, reenacting the accident.

2. Assess the Extent and Future Implications of Your Child's Injuries

A school bus crash, especially if it is not equipped with seat belts, can cause moderate to catastrophic injuries, including:

A school bus has damage due to an accident in Denver
  • Burns
  • fractures
  • internal organ injuries
  • spinal cord injuries
  • traumatic brain injury.

Also, such a traumatic event leaves long-lasting negative effects on the child's physical, mental and emotional development. The personal injury lawyer will attempt to establish the full extent of these present and future conditions by requesting hospital records and talking to your child's doctor, as well as with a children's psychologist.

3. Prepare Your Claim

How much is your child's pain worth? That sounds like a terrible question to ask, but we need to calculate all the expenses your family incurred after the accident, as well as the future costs to care for your child.

Therefore, your Colorado personal injury lawyer will include all the types of compensation allowed by the law: for economic losses and for non-economic losses..

Economic losses include:

  • Hospital bills
  • physical and emotional therapy costs
  • provision for future care in case of permanent disability.

Non-economic losses refer to the pain, suffering and trauma you and your child are going through as a result of the school bus accident.

At Firouzbakht Law Firm, our client is our first and foremost concern. We do not give up, even when we have to fight in court against governmental authorities. You have the right to see justice served and deserve the maximum compensation the jury will award.

As for our fees, you don't have to worry: we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we draw our fees out of the compensation amount, after we win your case. Also, we are available 24/7, so you can contact us anytime you need specialized legal advice and representation. Call us: 833-801-0171!

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