Sending your children to school is a big step in any parent’s life. You often send your children off to school without any significant issues. But tragedy can strike when school bus accidents occur, uprooting New Jersey parents’ lives and causing substantial stress and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reports that, between 2011 and 2020, there were 1,009 fatal accidents involving school buses in the United States, resulting in an average of 113 fatalities per year.
Parents may ask themselves, “What should I do if my child is injured in a school bus accident?” Understanding the steps you can take following an accident can help you prepare for the unfortunate event of a school bus accident and ensure you protect your and your child’s rights.
Steps to Take If Your Child Is Injured in a School Bus Accident
If your child was hurt in a school bus accident, you might be wondering what to do next. Below, the Petro Cohen team explains essential steps to protect your child’s health and legal rights.
Seek Medical Attention for Your Child
Having a doctor examine your child after a school bus accident is vital to protecting your child’s physical health. Some injuries may not appear immediately and can be easily missed at first. A doctor can uncover these injuries and help make sure your child receives the treatment they need to recover or keep the illness from worsening without treatment.
Further, seeking medical attention generates a vital medical record that you and your attorney can use to prove the accident caused the injuries.
Gather Evidence of the Crash and Injuries
The police will likely create an accident report and gather evidence using their methods. But it’s equally important for parents to take pictures of the accident scene and their child’s injuries and to gather statements from the witnesses to the crash. This helps ensure that the parties have a comprehensive record of the accident and minimizes the risk that a child’s injuries will be understated.
Contact an Experienced School Bus Accident Attorney
A school bus accident attorney is critical to helping you protect your child’s rights and pursue justice against the at-fault parties. School bus accidents are often complex because they involve multiple parties, such as:
- The school bus driver,
- The school district,
- The other driver,
- Bus driver’s employer,
- The local government,
- The company that owns the bus, and
- The insurance companies.
It can be overwhelming to understand what steps to take and in what order. A competent school bus accident lawyer can help you navigate this situation to improve your chance of recovering and holding the at-fault parties accountable. The attorney can also help you meet essential filing deadlines to ensure New Jersey law doesn’t bar you from bringing a claim against those responsible.
Contact the School District
You should contact the school district to notify them that your child was injured in the accident. In most cases, they will already know about the accident, but it is still important to send notice that your child sustained injury because of the crash. Further, the school district should know if your child has to miss school because of their injuries. You should provide only the basic information and then contact an attorney who will provide the school district or it’s insurance company with all necessary additional information.
Keep a Record of Your Child’s Injuries
Make a habit of documenting your child’s injuries, including how they impact their life and ability to do things they need or like to do. These records help paint an accurate picture of the scope of the injuries and serve as proof. Your attorney may use this to explain to the judge or jury the extent of your child’s damages and to calculate the appropriate financial award.
Don’t Sign Anything Without Talking to Your Attorney First
One of the most crucial pieces of advice is to sign only after your attorney reviews the document and gives their opinion. School districts, insurance companies, and other parties may try to persuade you to agree to what they describe as “routine” documents. In reality, these documents may sign away your and your child’s fundamental rights, thus preventing you from pursuing total and fair compensation. The best practice is to sign something only after discussing it with your attorney and receiving their legal counsel.
In Summary: What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a School Bus Accident?
It can be terrifying and traumatic if your child is injured in a school bus accident. Following the above steps cannot undo what has been done, but it can help you pursue justice against those responsible for harming your child.
Petro Cohen Takes Personal Injury Personally
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our injury attorneys have decades of experience handling thousands of personal injury cases with successful outcomes for our clients, fighting hard to recover fair compensation and appropriate medical care for their injuries. Petro Cohen Managing Attorney Susan Petro heads the Personal Injury Department, which includes experienced injury attorneys Rich Gaeckle and Mike Veneziani. Whether your injury resulted from a slip and fall, construction site mishap, or an accident involving an automobile, truck, motorcycle, boat, or bicycle, we can help, even if it means litigating against big corporations or public entities. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney by calling 888-675-7607. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.