Indiana school bus drivers are required to pick up or drop off elementary school students on the right-hand side of the roadway unless there are no other safe alternatives. This school bus safety law is meant to prevent children from having to cross highways while boarding or leaving school buses. The law was adopted in time for the 2019 school year in response to a fatal October 2018 school bus accident in Rochester, Ind., that killed three children.
Children getting on and off school buses are in danger of being hit by cars and when negligent drivers illegally pass stopped school buses. A 2018 survey found that on a single day more than 3,000 drivers illegally passed stopped school buses across Indiana, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Over the course of a school year, that’s more than 540,000 drivers illegally passing stopped school buses, known as “stop-arm violations.”
As personal injury lawyers who represent families of injured children, we understand the shock and heartbreak of learning your child has been harmed while at school or in a school bus accident. The Indiana child accident lawyers at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC work to hold those responsible accountable and ensure that you are compensated for your child’s injury. Our attorneys have successfully handled child and adolescent injury cases for more than 26 years in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
Indiana And School Bus Stop Laws
The 2019 school bus safety law adopted by the Indiana General Assembly and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb mandates that when a school bus is operated on a U.S. highway or state route outside of the boundary of a city or town, the driver may not load or unload a student at a location that requires the student to cross a roadway, unless there are no other safe alternatives.
Under other laws, Indiana drivers are required to stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red signal lights flashing and stop sign arm out in most cases. A driver following behind a school bus in the same direction is always required to stop. A driver approaching a stopped school bus from the opposite direction must stop unless they are on the other side of a divided highway separated by a grassy median or concrete barrier.
When do you have to stop for a school bus?
When a school bus stops on a multilane roadway that has no barrier and the bus’s red flashing lights are activated and the stop arm is extended, all motorists must stop.
The new law also increased penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus in Indiana, which is generally considered a Class A misdemeanor (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-3-2). A conviction of illegally passing a stopped school bus in Indiana is now punishable by:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $5,000
- 90 days of suspended driving privileges or up to one year for repeated offenses
- Eight points assessed against the individual’s driving record.
If someone is injured by a driver who has illegally passed a stopped school bus, the crime is a Level 6 felony. Level 6 felonies are punishable by six months in jail to as much as two and a half years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-2-7).
If someone is killed by a driver who has illegally passed a stopped school bus, the crime is a Level 5 felony. Level 5 felonies are punishable by one to six years in prison (with an advisory sentence of three years), as well as a fine of up to $10,000. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-2-6).
The new school bus safety laws and punishments were adopted after a 24-year-old Rochester woman allegedly passed a stopped school bus and hit and killed a 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old twin half-brothers and hit and seriously injured another 11-year-old boy on October 18, 2018. The children were crossing a two-lane road to board the school bus.
A byproduct of the new law was that some rural school bus routes were redrawn, resulting in longer bus rides, Indiana school officials said.
How Our Child Injury Lawyers Can Help After a School Bus Accident
If a child has been seriously injured or killed in a school bus accident of any kind, of course the parents are due answers as to how the accident occurred. But if someone’s negligence caused the accident, the at-fault party or parties may also be held liable for “damages” the child and parents have sustained. Damages include monetary loss, such as for medical bills, as well as the pain and suffering of the child and his or her parents.
As an established Indiana personal injury firm, we handle Indiana motor vehicle accident cases every day, representing those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to others’ disregard for safety. The cases we handle include school bus accidents that involve injuries to children.
In many school bus accident cases, the at-fault individual is a negligent driver who illegally passed a stopped school bus. In such cases, our legal team works to establish the facts of the case and then help you demand full compensation. We negotiate settlements when possible, but we do not allow an insurance company to settle for less than the full value of a claim.
In certain instances, the school bus driver may be responsible for the accident, such as by dropping a child off in an improper location, particularly in light of the new Indiana law. In this instance, the school bus driver, as well as his or her employer, may be held liable for a child’s injuries.
All adults have a general legal responsibility for the welfare of minor-age children in their presence and may be held liable for any carelessness, negligence or recklessness of their own that causes a child to be harmed. Indiana law confers an additional responsibility upon school bus drivers, teachers, principals and others who are acting temporarily in place of parents in providing for the safety and welfare of the children in their custody.
A legal claim filed against a school system or individual responsible for a child’s injury would seek compensation for medical bills, income lost by a parent caring for an injured or disabled child, and for pain and suffering, including the child’s pain and the parents’ grief for a wrongful death or a serious lasting injury.
Insurance companies for the local school district will likely make an effort to deny the claim that you have filed on behalf of your child. Our attorneys have the experience and dedication required to protect the rights of Indiana families who are facing a school system’s lawyers and insurance company pressuring them to accept a settlement that is less than fair.
Our law firm has the financial resources and dedication to put skilled investigators on your case and hire accident reconstructionists, if necessary, to obtain justice for you in a school bus accident claim. If it should become necessary to go to court to recover the full amount of compensation you are due, our child injury lawyers have the depth of trial experience that can make all the difference.
Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC is firmly committed to the safety of children across Indiana. When children are exposed to harm as a result of others’ negligence, we are committed to fighting for the injured children and their parents to be compensated for the expenses and personal suffering they have unnecessarily and unjustly been put through.
Contact an Indiana School Bus Accident Attorney
If your child has been injured while boarding, leaving or riding a school bus in Indiana, turn to Craig, Kelley & Faultless for help. Our law firm can level the playing field when dealing with insurance companies and government agencies such as local school districts. We will fight for full and fair compensation for your family.
Our attorneys are listed as Indiana Super Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, AVVO Superb Ratings, and Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyers. You can have confidence that your claim is in good hands with our experienced and dedicated legal team.
Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC online to speak directly with an attorney or paralegal. We have several satellite offices and meeting locations. We offer a free case consultation, and our Indiana child injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. We do not get paid until we win your case for you through a settlement or a jury verdict.
We serve clients in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Batesville, Anderson, Muncie and Lafayette, Indiana. We’ll gladly set up an appointment at a location convenient to you or in your home. Contact us today.