George O. Haskell IV Law Office

Elderly pedestrian dies after accident with school bus

The State Patrol officers in Dade County, Georgia, are trying to determine the circumstances that led to the death of an elderly pedestrian.

The woman, aged 70, was walking into a crosswalk near a school intersection. As she moved into the street, she was struck by a nearly empty school bus that was arriving to collect students.

The pedestrian was taken from the scene of the accident to a nearby hospital's intensive care ward with serious injuries. It wasn't long before she was removed from life support and succumbed to her injuries.

Since the accident is still under investigation, it isn't entirely clear what happened. Investigators aren't sure if the traffic signals by the crosswalk told the woman to cross when she did or she jumped the gun, thinking the road was clear.

While this is the second accident involving a school bus in that district during the current school year, the driver is portrayed by his or her superiors as "exceptional." There's no word on whether or not any criminal charges will be filed -- and likely won't be until an investigation is finished.

Ultimately, even if the driver caused the accident, criminal charges may never be filed if the police determine that the woman's death was a simple accident and the driver wasn't doing anything reckless (like playing on his or her cellphone or driving while intoxicated).

In order to seek a measure of justice, family members of the deceased or the representatives of the deceased's estate may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. However, it's important to remember that accidents involving school buses are complicated propositions.

When considering a lawsuit involving any school bus, fault is always an important question. However, liability can lie with the driver, the school (through employer liability for an employee's actions) or even the manufacturer of the bus (if it is determined that the bus itself failed to operate properly). In this case, there may be cause to sue the city for a faulty crosswalk sign.

Lawsuits against schools, which are public entities, and cities are also complicated by the fact that there are often special steps that have to be taken in order to sue. Time restrictions are also often shorter than they are for ordinary personal injury claims. That's why it's wise to seek legal advice if you're considering a similar case.

Source: WRCBtv.com, "UPDATE: Woman dies after being hit by school bus in Trenton," Anna Huffstutler and Ken Nicholson, Feb. 22, 2018

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