Cooper Law Firm - Personal Injury Lawyer

Can school buses be liable in a wrongful death case?

Earlier this month, a Baltimore school bus collided with both a passenger vehicle and a city bus.  Even though the school bus was not carrying any students, the collision resulted in six deaths and 11 injuries.

This deadly accident may make you question what laws govern bus negligence and how liability is determined in a wrongful death case. While we can't determine liability in this particular accident, we can review the elements of a school bus wrongful death case.

School bus drivers in Maryland are required to drive their bus in a responsible and danger free manner. Many drivers take their roles seriously because they are protecting the lives of children and because they are operating commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, accidents may still happen and heavy vehicles increase the chances of a fatality.

Here are the general criteria for proving defendant negligence in a wrongful death case:

  • A party must owe the victim a duty of safety
  • The party failed to meet reasonable safety expectations
  • The party’s actions directly contributed to the victim’s death

These principles provide a broad overview of how wrongful death and negligence cases work.  If an operating company or vehicle manufacturer also contributed to an accident, they may also be responsible in a wrongful death case.

Maryland wrongful death cases can be more complex because of the contributory negligence doctrine. Contributory negligence takes into account the victims’ actions and how that may have contributed to an accident. There may also be additional hurdles for filing a school bus wrongful death case because of various laws which can cap damages or prevent wrongful death cases against a government agency.

Although school buses can be liable for wrongful death cases in certain instances, the reality of filing a claim may be complex. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options if a loved one dies because of a bus accident. Although school buses can be liable for wrongful death cases in certain instances, the reality of filing a claim may be complex. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options if a loved one dies because of a bus accident.

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