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Can a bus driver be held liable following school bus accident?

With school back in session for most children in Washington, many parents worry about their kids' safety. They worry about whether their children get nutritious lunches, whether they are keeping up in school and whether they are safe. These safety concerns often don't end at the school doors, but parents are worried about whether their kids will make it to and from school safely on the bus.

School buses and school bus drivers have the important job of providing safe transportation for students. While in many cases children are safe, there are situations where children are put at risk on their way to or from school. If bus drivers fail to follow safety rules, break traffic laws or don't keep their mind and eyes on the task of driving, then school bus accidents can happen and children can get hurt.

In these situations, school bus drivers can be held liable for damage that is caused. Like in other personal injury cases, school bus drivers who drive negligently can be held financially responsible for an accident. Under these rules, drivers can be held responsible when they fail to follow policies set by the school district -- including keeping the bus a safe place for children. They can be held liable if the school bus is not maintained and kept in safe working order.

Furthermore, school bus drivers can be held liable separately from the school district. This means that even if the school district wasn't negligent, the school bus driver could still be held liable if a jury finds that the person was negligent by a preponderance of the evidence.

While this post cannot provide advice about a specific bus accident, these rules are important parents to note if their child was hurt on a school bus. An attorney can provide more specific information about whether a bus driver can be held liable a particular case.

Source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, "SCHOOL BUS DRIVER HANDBOOK," accessed Oct. 12, 2014

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