Can you sue a school over a dangerous school bus driver that causes an accident, injuring you or a family member? Absolutely—as long as you make sure you follow the rules.
Suing a school district in Texas is always a bit complicated because the Texas Tort Claims Act defines schools as governmental units, giving them a broad sort of immunity from civil claims—but there are exceptions.
That includes things like bus drivers who run red lights with impunity, rack up speeding tickets, routinely cut off drivers or just generally drive recklessly enough to be a hazard to everyone under their care and on the surrounding roads.
Incidents involving school buses may be shockingly common. For example, investigative reporting in Dallas County found that more than $2 million in damages had been paid out in claims over school bus accidents in less than a 3-year period.
Given that section 101.023 of the TTCA sets damage caps on accidents involving school districts to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence, that’s a lot of individuals getting hurt—many of them likely children. And that figure doesn’t give any real indicator of how many “near misses” went unreported.
Unsafe drivers aren’t the only risks faced from school buses. All of those accidents take a toll on the buses themselves, which mean that damaged buses need to be repaired constantly. A school may attempt to cut corners and put a bus back on the road that’s mechanically unsound, which can also lead to accidents.
It’s important to have an attorney help guide you through a school bus accident claim, simply because there are so many unique aspects to them, aside from damage caps.
For example, Section 101.101 of the TTCA outlines special notice provisions that have to be given the school of the injuries claimed and other pertinent details. The time limits on the notification, however, vary by the city—but they’re generally far shorter than those allowed by the state. That could cause someone who is thinking that he or she has the usual 2 years to decide to file a personal injury claim under the usual Texas statute of limitation to miss his or her opportunity to file forever.
Source: www.nbcdfw.com, “Dallas County Schools Settled More Than $2 Million in Accident Claims in Less Than 3 Years,” Scott Friedman, Jan. 27, 2017