Articles Posted in Bus Accident

IMG_0958It was just revealed by NBC5  that the Dallas school district has settled 680 personal injury claims and paid $2.3 million in settlements over the past few years.

Most are fortunately small injuries, so the recoveries are just a few thousand dollars each. But sometimes the injuries were substantial — and the settlements were not proportionately large.

The Phillips family, whose daughter suffered a ruptured spleen when a bus collided with the family’s car, told the reporter how the money did not cover their damages.

Due to laws governing the maximum amounts that can be paid by state, county, city, and branches of local governments like the school district here, the total amounts are limited.

How do those caps affect injury claims against governmental branches and units?

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460xEarly Sunday morning, the most recent mass casualty casino bus crash occurred in southern California. A shocking 13 people died and dozens more suffered catastrophic injuries in the horrific collision.

The bus driver who slammed into the back of the stopped 18 wheeler was going so fast that the bus ripped a gaping hole in the back of the semi and came to a stop 15 feet inside its trailer.

Investigators have already determined that the tread on multiple tires were worn down so low that they were far below federal safety standards.

“The vehicle was out of compliance with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspection criteria, and it could have been placed out of service,” an NTSB board member reported yesterday.

In addition, since the driver never applied his brakes, driver fatigue was another cause of the deadly collision, all too common in these early morning bus and other commercial vehicle collisions.

This was an accident just waiting to happen. The bus was old. It was manufactured 50 years ago in 1966. The bus company driving it only operated this one bus. However it was not allowed to be on the road No one had apparently inspected the bus or its tires recently. Further, the driver was obviously unqualified.

As if that weren’t bad enough news, you can bet that the company has inadequate liability insurance. The minimum required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is $5 million. This will not be enough to pay the damage claims of the families of the 12 passengers (not counting the driver) who died and the many others who were seriously injured.

Why do so many bus collisions like this happen? According to the FMCSA, an estimated 3,290 crash each year. That’s incredible.

Why are insurance limits so low?

And more importantly, how can we stop these crashes from happening over and over again?

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IMG_0958The Dallas County School District announced yesterday that is has fired or suspended several hundred bus drivers for violating basic traffic laws. The people paid to safely get children to and from school had racked up 480 traffic citations for failing to stop for red lights or stopped buses just in the last two years.

That’s a startling 10 percent of all Dallas school bus drivers.

Running a red light is inexcusable for any driver, but for a bus driver, it’s outrageous.

Tax Dollars Paid the Traffic Tickets

Not only did the Dallas school bus drivers put children and other motorists at risk and allow these reckless drivers to continue driving for years, but the school district paid $80,000.00 for their traffic tickets. Dallas County citizens got stuck paying these traffic tickets with money that could have used for schoolbooks, lunches or teachers’ salaries. The district didn’t even bother to ask the drivers to reimburse the city or reprimand them for their recklessness.

However if you or I drive around a bus with the stop arm extended we can get hit with a $300 – $1,000 fine. School bus drivers, who should know better than anyone the dangers to children, paid zero.

In response to the investigation, two high-level managers were fired for failing to properly oversee the bus drivers. The Dallas School District also announced a new once-and-done rule in which any bus driver caught passing a bus that has its stop arm extended faces immediate dismissal. Bus drivers will also have to pay back the fines. Finally. Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_1324607Ten local children had an eventful second week of school. They were headed home on Wednesday when their bus collided with a pickup truck on I-35 near downtown Fort Worth. The pickup rolled over and came to rest on its roof. Miraculously, nobody was injured.

There are plenty of other bus collisions that have happened in our area recently.

  • Two weeks ago, a car hit a school bus packed with middle school students in Denton and it caught on fire. Eight of the 45 kids suffered injuries.
  • Last spring, a Fort Worth school bus carrying 32 students collided with a passenger vehicle near Loop 820 and I-20 and several children were injured.
  • Two weeks later, seven Alvarado students and the bus driver were injured when a tractor-trailer plowed into the bus.
  • Just a few days later, two bus crashes occurred in Fort Worth on the same day. A Honda ran into a school bus and two hours later an SUV ran into a different bus carrying 17 middle and high school students and caused several injuries.

And my law firm is currently representing two people seriously injured in bus-related collisions. In the first case, a man driving an 18 wheeler was hit by a loaded school bus that darted out in front of his truck. In the second, a little girl was walking across the road to catch her bus when a  speeding truck failed to stop and hit her.

This is ridiculous. School buses are huge and bright yellow, and everyone can see them. And when they stop, a long arm extends out to the side and lights flash to inform other vehicles to also stop. If their obvious appearance isn’t enough, the law is very clear.

Drivers are prohibited from passing a stopped school bus with its stop sign and lights activated. Violating this law can result in a $1,000 traffic ticket. Continue reading

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Get used to school zones and slow buses

A lot of changes happen on the first day of school …. for children and drivers alike.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve lived by the same school for years, you might easily forget about school zones and slow buses during the blissful summer months when those driving issues don’t exist.

The first few weeks of school can be a shock to the system. Last week, you were driving at 35 or 40 MPH down the street. This week, you have to slow down to 20 MPH.

But just as your children have to get their minds into gear, so do we drivers. Continue reading

160516-texas-crash-jpo-609a_ce9773193983655f985bc22dec30704a.nbcnews-ux-320-320Two recent crashes in Texas show that they are.

1. On Saturday a bus driving to a casino near Laredo rolled over and catastrophically killed eight elderly passengers and injured 44 others. Just last year, the tiny bus company was twice ordered to take one of its buses — in its fleet of two — off the road. Louisiana inspectors found 15 safety violations involving vehicle maintenance, driver records and hours reporting.

Were these violations ever corrected? Was the same bus involved? These answers have not been released but seem obvious.

2.And just two weeks ago, a Dallas jury awarded $10.9 million to the families of two victims killed in another crash.

In April 2013, after stopping in Bedford to pick up passengers, the bus headed up the Bush Turnpike. In Irving, the driver lost control of the bus, hit barrels in the right lane, swerved across two lanes of traffic and hit a concrete barrier to the left, flipping the bus over. The senseless collision killed two people and seriously injured 40 others.

In addition to the size of the verdict, the case is unusual because the defendant is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma that chartered the bus to drive seniors to its Oklahoma casino. However the casino operator was not driving it.

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This New Device Protects Kids

You would think having a huge yellow vehicle with flashing lights and a bright red stop sign would be enough to alert drivers to stop for a school bus. Unfortunately, motorists often ignore these glaring warning signs and speed past school buses while children are getting on and off.

This is what happened to a new client of mine. As her young daughter was crossing the street to get on her bus in Fort Worth, a speeding truck ran her over. Fortunately, he missed several other kids next to the girl. 

The child had to be rushed to the hospital, where she had to stay for four days, and can only attend school being pushed in a wheelchair. The poor girl will need another major surgery in a few months to replace the plates and screws holding her tiny leg together.

This horrible tragedy could have been avoided had the driver just stopped for the brief time it took for the children to cross the road. What could be that important that he felt compelled to whip around the bus and seriously injure a young child? We’ll find out in court.

Children at Risk Near School Buses

As this article in today’s Dallas Morning News explains, a stopped school bus doesn’t stop drivers from violating state law — and common sense — and risking children’s lives and limbs.

After the McKinney Independent School District estimated that drivers blazed past stopped buses 3,500 times last year, it designed a new program to curb speeding past stopped buses.

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Click here to watch the video.

A bus crashed on its way to a Houston high school this morning, tragically killing two of the students and seriously injuring the two other students and the driver who were onboard. The wreck occurred at 7:00 on a busy freeway while the bus was bound for an alternative school for drop-outs.

The crash was horrendous. One driver swerved into the lane of a second motorist who then side-swiped the bus. This caused the bus driver to overcorrect and drive the bus over the side of the overpass to the street below.

My heart goes out to the families of the young girls who perished and to the injured students and driver. But you have to ask how a tragedy like this could happen — and how it could be prevented from happening in the future.

Most Common Reasons People Crash Their Vehicles

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school bus kid getting on

School started this week for most kids in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I again saw a lot walking to school and being dropped off this morning as I ran before work. It is mandatory that we all slow down and pay attention to the road and talk to our children about traffic safety.

Watching Out for Kids During the School Year

As you shuttle your children to school by opening bell then race to work, the temptation to speed or to quickly check your email is understandable. Resist the urge and follow these school year traffic laws:

  • Never use a cell phone while driving through a school zone
  • Do not speed, especially in a school zone
  • Comply with the school’s drop-off and pickup procedures
  • Be aware that kids could dart out in front of your car at any moment
  • Do not pass a bus that has stopped and activated its flashing red lights


Careful driving not only ensures the safety of kids, but also avoids a very expensive ticket. Texting or talking on the phone while driving through a school zone can result in a $200 ticket. Passing a school bus while its flashing red lights are engaged can cost up to $1000 in fines. 

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An SUV collided with a Fort Worth ISD school bus Wednesday morning at the intersection of South Riverside Drive and East Maddox Avenue. Thank goodness that the driver of the bus and the student on it only suffered minor injuries. The driver had just made his first pickup of the morning or more children would have been on the bus.

According to police, the SUV ran a red light and hit the school bus. On impact the bus was knocked into a parking lot where it knocked over concrete pylons and hit a building.

The driver of the SUV was seriously injured. He had to be extricated from the vehicle by firefighters and was transported to the hospital by Medstar Ambulance.

Drivers: Be Careful Around School Buses
School is back in full swing after spring break in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Drivers are always rushing to get to work — and don’t even get me started about people who drive and text, or are so absorbed in their phone call they zone out. But our children are precious and there is no way you can’t see a red light — or a giant yellow school bus.
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