Pennsylvania –  February 22, 2022

Highcliff Elementary School children traveling by bus to school in Ross Township were jolted by a garbage truck who backed into the school bus on Roseland Avenue. The truck apparently picked up a dumpster and drifted backward into the ABC Transit school bus hitting it in the middle of the body, and shattering three windows causing significant damage to the bus.  There were about 20 students on the bus at the time of the collision and law enforcement at the scene reported they were treated for minor injury and transported by another bus to school.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are the safest vehicles on the road and children are safer taking buses to school than traveling by car.

Safety standards.

Safety standards for school buses are heavily regulated under NHTSA Safety Act, comparted to regular government controlled transit and private buses.  Bus accidents often occur because of driver error, but there are times when they are related to a mechanical problem, dangerous roadway condition, or the fault of another driver.  County vehicles such as the garbage truck also employ strict standards for their drivers.  Negligence will need to be proven by a skilled accident lawyer, and fault could be placed on a bus driver, an owner, a manufacturer for mechanical error, other drivers, or a bus company manager who decides on the transportation route a bus will follow.

Duty of care.

School bus drivers are required to operate vehicles with a higher degree of care to ensure the safety of passengers, and the public they serve.  When bus drivers, or companies do not observe the higher duty, it can be considered an act of negligence when injury, or property damage occurs. Drivers  A bus accident attorney will be able to outline the special rules that apply when a passenger is injured as a result of a bus accident.

Pennsylvania driver requirements.

Bus drivers have different demands by regulation as to their safe ability to operate a passenger carrier.  The specific medically disqualifying conditions found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are hearing loss, vision loss, epilepsy, and insulin use. A Pennsylvania school bus driver must possess a valid Commercial Driver’s License with Passenger and School Bus Endorsements. A school bus driver must pass a PA School Bus Physical (DL-704) every 13 months as outlined in Title 67, Chapter 71.

Damage capitations.

Monetary awards in Pennsylvania have no cap on most damages, but there is a cap of $500,000 against local government claims, and a $250,000 limit on claims against the State, which may be relevant if the garbage truck is a county vehicle.

Parties who may be held responsible after a bus accident.

  •  Driver of other vehicle,
  • Government agency who controls bus,
  • Owner(s) of bus as employer,
  • Driver of bus,
  • Commercial insurer of bus,
  • Regulatory agency supporting bus safety on issues of bus manufacturer and parts manufacturer,
  • Licensing agencies of privately owned and public transit vehicles, city, county, or state.

Recoverable damages.

  • Medical bills and burial expenses,
  • Compensation for lost wages,
  • Compensation for pain and suffering,
  • Punitive damages that are intended to punish the person who caused the death.

Hire an attorney.

Passengers, pedestrians, and other motor vehicle operators should know what actions to take if they are involved in a bus-related accident that negatively affects someone’s livelihood, their own livelihood, and results in damages to their person, property, or ability to earn wages. Passengers and drivers should be screened for invisible injuries after an impact crash with a bus. Scanlon & Wojton can assist surviving family members with insurance claims and accidental death benefit compensation when it is available.

Scanlon & Wojton, Attorneys at Law

The Mitchell Building
304 Ross Street, Suite 510
Pittsburgh, Pa 15219

Phone:  (412) 918-1241

Fax: (412) 235-7275

Sources.

  1. https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/22/school-bus-garbage-truck-collide-in-ross-township/
  2. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety
  3. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/
  4. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/understanding-passenger-carrier-regulations
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