Child Injury – School Bus Accidents

All around the State of Georgia our kids are heading back to school. Parents entrust their children’s lives and safety to countless school bus drivers, most of whom deserve that trust and are conscientious drivers. Nevertheless, any time a child is injured on or by a school bus, parents have a right and responsibility to find out what when wrong. Sometimes driver inattention and negligence leads to tragic accidents and child injuries.

According to the NHTSA, an average of 19 school-aged children die in school bus related traffic crashes every year. Of these 19, on average 6 of the children die as occupants of a bus and 13 die as pedestrians (getting in or off the bus). More children have been killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day. And nearly half of those killed are our youngest school-going children, those between the ages of 5-7 years of age.

Thus while school officials will often tout the high standard of safety on school buses, life changing injuries occur all too often and deserve serious and rigorous investigation.

The dangers of school buses were freshly brought to my mind by a school bus crash that occurred last Spring just a few miles from where I live. According to ABC News, six school buses taking some 200 middle school students to Six Flags crashed in Newton County, Georgia, leaving more than 50 people injured after one school bus rear-ended another, creating a chain reaction.

School Bus drivers are required to undergo extensive training. To give you an idea of just how extensive, you might want to take a look at the School Bus Driver Training Manual used by the Georgia Department of Transportation. This manual contains a goldmine of information regarding how drivers are trained and what responsibilities local school boards owe the families of students whose children take the bus to and from school.

For instance, the manual contains detailed training instructions for how bus drivers and bus monitors should load and unload non-ambulatory wheelchair passengers. Failure to follow the delineated procedures could result in injuries to special needs students. The manual describes the duties involved in safely getting a disabled child secured in their wheel chair including preparing the lift, properly positioning the wheelchair once it is lifted onto the bus, attaching the front and rear securement straps, and attaching the lap/shoulder belts. Failure to follow any of these rules could lead to injuries.

In another section, this one on “Student Behavior Management”, the manual lists certain “interventions” by bus drivers that are prohibited by Georgia law. Corporal punishment (spanking or other intervention designed to cause pain to the student) is prohibited. So is pepper spray/mace. Also, bus drivers are warned not to discipline students while the bus is in motion.

The manual also contains a wealth of information about standards for school bus drivers on the more mundane matters of operating a school bus. Topics covered include: free-way driving, lane changes, safe backing, passing and being passed, rail road crossings, and pre and post trip bus inspections.

Also discussed in the manual is the local school board’s responsibility to do background checks on those applicants who want to be hired as school bus drivers. And after hiring a driver, the school board has a ongoing duty to send them for periodic medical exams and to do performance evaluations. If a school district fails to discharge any of these duties, and a dangerous driver is permitted to transport school children, civil liability can result for negligent hiring/retention.

My firm can represent you in the following types of injury matters:

  • School Bus Rear-End Collisions
  • School Bus Skidding Off The Road
  • School Bus Crash Involving Speeding/Reckless Driving
  • Drunk or Drug-Impaired School Bus Driver
  • School Bus Driver Who Fails to Stop Bullying (with injury to your child resulting)
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Failure to Safely Secure Special Needs Child
  • Improper/Non-existent/Negligent Hiring & Retention by School Board

For those interested in going a little deeper in their understanding of school bus safety, I recommend the video below. It is produced by The School Bus Safety Company and it discusses various aspects of school bus safety, focusing on the proper training of drivers. It makes the disturbing claim that there are 13,000 school bus fleets without a comprehensive safety training course.

I am available to discuss all School Bus Injuries with you.

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Attorney Pete Pearson practices personal injury law in Atlanta, Georgia and has a special interest in helping families of injured children. He is a father to six and lives with his wife and children in Conyers, Georgia. He can be reached directly at Six-Seven-Eight 358-2564. 

Abortion Malpractice – Failure to Comply with Parental Notification Requirements

In 2007 Georgia law was amended to modify requirements related to parental notification for unemancipated minors.

Unemancipated minors (which in this context means any female under the age of 18 who is still under the control and supervision of her parents or guardians) seeking an abortion must either be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can show proper identification or a minor’s parent or guardian must be notified in person, by telephone, or by mail at least 24 hours prior to the abortion.

The law requires “actual notice” to the parents or guardians.

If the physician or minor does not want to comply with these parental notification requirements, he or she can contact any juvenile court in the state to have them waived. This is often referred to as a “judicial bypass.” Regardless of whether parental notification occurs, a minor is required to sign a form stating that she consents freely, “and without coercion” to the abortion (Official Code of Georgia Section 15-11-112(a)).

The burden is on the abortion doctor to prove the parents or guardians were notified and the minor signed a consent form.

If the abortion doctor fails to prove “notice and consent”, what remedies are available under Georgia law? Unfortunately, there is no private cause of action (right to sue) against abortion doctors provided for within the statute itself.

In 2011 the Georgia Senate passed a bill that would allow women (and a minor’s parent or legal guardian) to sue an abortion practitioner for violating a similar “notice and consent” statute, the Woman’s Right To Know Act.

Entitled The Women’s Private Right of Action Bill, it would have provided a woman access to financial recovery for illegal abortions. It would have allowed a woman (or a minor’s parent or legal guardian) who has been harmed by an abortion doctor who violates the Woman’s Right To Know Act to be sued for the wrongful death of the aborted child. Unfortunately, Georgia’s House leadership blocked the legislation by refusing to allow it a committee hearing.

So at this time, there is no law in Georgia that allows a woman or the parent of a minor to sue for wrongful death of an aborted child when the abortion doctor fails to prove “notice and consent” but . . . call me anyway. My firm is willing to sue abortion doctors over this issue under the right circumstances. The right case may allow us to use existing laws to hold abortion doctors legally responsible for not complying.

The loss of a child or grandchild is always a terrible tragedy. If you are in that circumstance, my heart goes out to you. It would be my privilege to talk with you about what legal options you may have to call the abortion doctor to account.

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Attorney Pete Pearson may lose some business by saying it, but he is passionately pro-life. His passion and experience helping families of children who have been harmed make him especially well-suited to help your family in your time of need. Attorney Pearson lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and six children (all still at home). You can speak to him directly at Six-Seven-Eight 358-2564.

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Watch Teenager Lena Baughman talk about the “best moment of her life” –