As a parent, there are probably few mental images that are more frightening than the prospect of your child’s school bus being hit by a semi-trailer hauling a load. Unfortunately, these accidents do occur here in Chicago and the surrounding area. And when they do, and your child is injured in that crash, you need the right Chicago bus accident attorney on your side, helping you acquire the information you need to determine what happened, how it happened, why it happened and who’s legally responsible for the harm your child has experienced and will endure in the future.
The Chicago Tribune reported on a school bus crash that was a perfect example of the phrase, “It could have been much worse.” During its morning route on Jan. 18, a school bus in Valparaiso approached an intersection. The bus, having the right of way, began moving westbound through the intersection when, according to local police, a northbound semi-trailer hauling metal piping ran a red light and collided with the bus.
The bus had 16 students on board at the time. One student suffered minor injuries, according to the report. Thankfully, no one suffered serious or fatal injuries.
That’s not always the case. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 846 people died as a result of crashes where someone ran a red light in 2018. Given the size and weight of semi-trucks, even a low-speed crash where the trucker ran a red light can lead to serious harm.
Getting to the bottom of that kind of crash in Illinois requires a skillful legal team who knows how to obtain the evidence you’ll need. It means obtaining crucial information sources like the trucker’s logbooks and the truck’s black box data recorder. The data recorder can help you discover whether or not the trucker was speeding at the time of the crash and also whether or not the trucker braked before the collision. (An absence of braking can be valuable circumstantial evidence that the trucker was drowsy, asleep or distracted in the moments before the crash.)
Additionally, your capable legal team can do the discovery you need to ascertain all of the entities who were liable. Getting a full and fair recovery in your injury case may mean obtaining a judgment against more than just the trucker. With the right proof, you may be able to sue (and hold liable) the trucker’s employer, especially if you have proof that poor maintenance, not trucker error, caused the crash, and the employer failed to maintain and inspect the truck properly.
What you can do if your child’s bus driver or bus caused the crash
While the bus driver (and his/her bus) were not the cause of the accident the Tribune covered, that’s not always the case. When your child’s school bus was the “at fault” vehicle in a crash, that’s another situation where the issues related to who was responsible can be complex and require particularly knowledgeable legal representation.
If you discover evidence indicating that the bus driver’s negligence caused the crash, then you may be able to secure a judgment against the bus driver and his/her employer. Other times, the accident occurred because the vehicle malfunctioned, not because the driver erred. When that happens, you’ll need to do additional digging to obtain the proof needed to hold the manufacturer of the malfunctioning part responsible or, if the facts indicate, hold the entity responsible for the bus’s inspection and maintenance liable for its inadequate inspection and/or maintenance.
This can mean a situation where a public school district is potentially responsible. This is a scenario where it is very, very important to have knowledgeable legal counsel. Illinois statutory law shields public schools from liability in a lot of injury cases but, with the right evidence and legal arguments, your bus accident case may not be one of those circumstances where immunity applies.
Whether your child’s vehicle accident injuries mean taking on a big trucking company, a parts manufacturer or a public school district, success often lies in having the right legal team in your corner. Count on the experienced Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to be the advocate you need for a winning outcome. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.