In Georgia and everywhere else, there is nothing more tragic or consequential than the violent death of a young child. When a horrific accident occurs while the child is under the control of the school district, parents’ reactions are likely to be justifiably hyper-critical. In addition, the paradoxical failure of the school system to meet its solemn duty to the children will tend to permanently heighten the parents’ sense of loss. Consequently, personal injury and wrongful death recoveries for children in school bus accidents are likely to be substantial.
A horrific accident recently occurred in the tiny Georgia town of Gum Branch, which is southwest of Savannah. A school bus driver went over a bump on a dirt road, lost control of the bus and crashed into a tree, causing the death of a 5-year-old girl and injuring 21 other elementary school students. The 62-year-old bus driver was also injured and hospitalized, but whether police believe that she has any criminal responsibility is unknown while the investigation continues.
A video surveillance tape located on the bus showed the driver struggling with the gear shift prior to the crash. It does not appear that the police believe that she was impaired in any way, although that question is also undetermined at this time. The small community entered into a state of shock and came forth with sincere expressions of concern for the grieving family.
Georgia negligence law will govern the liabilities of the parties to whom personal injury claims and the death claim may be made. The estate of the deceased child may assert a wrongful death claim against the driver, the school district and any owners of the bus. Some suspicion of a malfunction to the bus has surfaced, according to press reports. That could point the greatest finger of blame at the hands of the company or entity that is responsible for regular maintenance over the bus. A vehicle carrying children daily must reasonably be maintained in good mechanical condition, but whether that issue is relevant remains to be determined by further forensic investigations.
Source: apnews.com, “Girl, 5, dead after school bus crashes into tree in Georgia“, Russ Bynum, Dec. 5, 2017