Smith + Schwartzstein
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School bus crashes: The legal implications

In Morris County, there was a fatal school bus crash that is still under investigation. According to the story, a Paramus teacher and student lost their lives in the collision on the way to Waterloo Village.

The child who passed away, a 10-year-old girl, has parents who may be like yourself if you found yourself struggling with the death of your child. They want to know who's to blame and who can be held accountable. That little girl wasn't the only person injured, so the reality is that there will be many people looking to find out what exactly happened. With several adults and dozens of students hurt, there's no question that answers are necessary.

By law, the public school could be held liable for a school bus accident, because there's no immunity under the Tort Claims Act. The school district would only be liable if there was damage related to negligence. To show negligence, there must be proof of unreasonableness. For instance, in this case, it appears that the driver crossed the median into an area designated for the police. The bus might have made an illegal U-turn; if that's the case, it would qualify as negligence.

If your child is hurt in a crash like this one, remember that several different parties could be at fault. A driver of another vehicle, the bus driver or even the maintenance crew that fixed the bus could be to blame, depending on the circumstances. It's a good idea to look into your legal options and rights if your child is hurt or killed in a crash.

Source:, "What are the legal implications of last week's N.J. school bus accident?," Ted Sherman, May 22, 2018

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