(Transcripts)

Cindy Speaker:  Good afternoon, and welcome to our broadcast today. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me today, Valeen Hykes. Valeen is an attorney with Michael J. O’Connor & Associates. Valeen, thanks for being with us again.

Valeen Hykes:  Oh, thank you for having me.

Cindy Speaker:  Always enjoy having you. Well, I want to tell you, Valeen, I don’t know if you know this, but the last broadcast you did was a record breaker.

Valeen Hykes:  All right.

Cindy Speaker:   We had so many shares. Oh, my word. It was like 36 shares. You really got a lot of engagement, so I had to tell you that.

Cindy Speaker: Well, today we’re gonna talk about school bus accidents and what parents should know. It’s something that if your child gets injured on a school bus, people are not sure exactly what comes into play there. Let’s start off by talking about some of the different types of school bus accidents.

Valeen Hykes:  Okay. Well, there are a couple types of accidents that you can sustain on a school bus. It could be, basically, an accident between a bus and a car. It could also be somewhere where a child slips and falls on the bus and injures themselves. Another type of incident that we sometimes see are bullying incidents where a child is injured by another student on the bus.

Cindy Speaker: Okay. Yeah, and you hear about that a lot these days because people are very sensitive to it. Somebody starts bullying. The cell phones come out. We’ll talk a little more about that in a few minutes, but what about liability issues? Who’s to blame? What comes into play there, as far as who could be sued in these types of accidents?

Valeen Hykes:  Well, I mean, it really depends on the type of incident that occurred, but there are a lot of different people that can be held responsible. If it’s an accident with the bus driver or the bus and another car, it could be whoever is at fault. It could be the bus driver. It could be the driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident. It could also be, especially if you see a slip and fall or a trip and fall on a bus, it could be the person who owns, operates, or maintains that bus, or somebody who was in charge of repairing that bus could be held responsible. In the situations where we have bullying, that could also come down to the school, some school employees, as well as sometimes even the parents of the child who was doing the bullying.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow. Well, and you know, when you talk about things like that, I think it brings to mind one of the reasons that I think it is so important to call a lawyer in these situations because figuring that all out has got to be very complicated.

Valeen Hykes:  Definitely, it is. Even for us, it’s something where we kind of have to make sure that we’ve included everybody, cover all of our bases in the beginning so that when we get to the end, we’re not forgetting somebody and then losing rights. There’s also certain types of notice that you have to give in these situations, which is why it’s important to have somebody who is knowledgeable in the area taking to court.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay, so they have a limited time to report it. Is that what you’re talking about?

Valeen Hykes:  They do.

Cindy Speaker:   I see, I see. Now, talk a little-

Valeen Hykes:   There’s a short-

Cindy Speaker:   Go ahead.

Valeen Hykes:   I’m sorry. I was just gonna say, there’s a very short timeframe when there’s a governmental entity involved that you have to give notice. I think it’s six months. There’s certain type of notice that you have to give, certain requirements that have to go into that notice, so very important that you don’t miss that deadline. Otherwise, you could lose your rights to sue for the entire incident.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, when you talked about bullying, the parents can actually be held responsible if their child was the one bullying.

Valeen Hykes:  They can, but there’s also the school district. It could be an employee of the school that could be held responsible, as well, because if the school is aware that bullying is happening and they don’t take any measures to prevent that or to fix it. There could be liability there, as well.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay, okay. Valeen, let’s talk a little bit about recovery. What would the parents recover on behalf of the injured child? Is it compensation? What kind of benefits would be recoverable?

Valeen Hykes:  Well, of course, it depends on the type of the incident, the severity of the injury, of course if there was a death involved, maybe a wrongful death type of suit could be brought in. Some of the other things that you would see are medical expenses, whether it be home healthcare, any type of rehabilitation that the child may need, disfigurement. If their injuries are so severe that there’s some disfigurement involved, that’s something they could recover for, as well as pain and suffering. That’s another big one that would be included.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay, okay. Give us some tips, as far as what parents should know, cautions for children that are riding school buses. I mean, we’re seeing so many incidents, safety-related incidents where children and just the public, at large, is unsafe. What kind of tips can you give us in terms of safety and keeping your child safe on a school bus?

Valeen Hykes:  Well, it’s kind of funny because a lot of people think that children being on a school bus is dangerous. But really, the majority of the accidents happen off of the school bus and while they’re on their way. Some of the things that I think are important for parents to know, I have a six-year-old, myself. We actually have a seminar before the school starts. It tells the parents and the children what they need to watch out for. Some of the big things that they recommend are the child, if they are walking across the street, basically making eye contact with the bus driver so that they know they’re crossing. A better way would be for the child to be there five minutes early so that they’re already in their spot. They’re not crossing the street when the bus comes.

Another piece of advice I would say is a lot of times, the kindergartners, first graders, maybe they’ll drop something. They’ll bend down to pick it up or they’ll go around the bus to pick it up, sometimes the bus driver won’t see them bending down. So it’s important for them to tell the bus driver, “I dropped something. I need to go get it,” so that the bus driver is aware that they’re down there. Another big one, I guess that I see, is where the bus will put the stop sign out, and the oncoming traffic won’t stop. A lot of times, the kids think that just because that’s out there and the bus is there, they should run across the street, but very dangerous to do that.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah, yeah. Those are great tips. In the area where I live, we actually had the whole area, all the roads in the area shut down the other night. It wasn’t a school bus. It was a public bus, but a young lady got off the bus, walked around the back, and started to cross the street and was hit by a car. I mean, the buses are big. I think you raised a good point. Some of it is visibility issues.

Valeen Hykes:  Exactly. I think that’s why they put the long hands on the front of the bus to kind of keep the students from, and that would be another thing I would recommend, is the children going to the front of the bus and never behind the bus.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a great point, too. Well, Valeen, thanks a lot for your time today. Great tips, great information. As always, we love having you.

Valeen Hykes:  Thank you, Cindy.

Cindy Speaker:  Well, before we go, let me ask you this. How can they get in touch with you if they have specific questions?

Valeen Hykes:  Oh, sure. They can reach us at 1-800-518-4529.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

Valeen Hykes:  And also on our website, www.OConnorLaw.com.

Cindy Speaker:  Very good. Thanks, Valeen.

Valeen Hykes:  Thank you.

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