School bus stop accidents in SC are a parent’s worst nightmare. There may be no worse tragedy than getting the call that your child is hospitalized or worse, just hours or minutes after you left their smiling face in the care of the school bus driver, waiting for a ride to school.
We do everything we can to protect our children, but, once we send them off to school, we must rely on other people’s good sense to keep our children safe.
School bus stop accidents, sometimes caused by bus drivers and sometimes caused by careless motorists, are more common than you might think – are children being hurt or killed at school bus stop accidents in SC?
How can drivers prevent school bus stop accidents in SC, and what does SC law say about it?
School Bus Stop Accidents are a Danger Nationwide
Earlier this month – just one week after National School Bus Safety Week – school bus stop accidents resulted in at least five deaths and seven injuries in one week.
- A seven-year-old boy’s dead body was found by his bus driver after he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Franklin Township, Pennsylvania – investigators determined that he “was run over at a slow speed.”
- In Tampa, Florida, five children and two adults were hit by a car in a school bus stop accident.
- In Louisville, Kentucky, two boys, 11 and 13 years old, were hit by a car as they crossed the road to get to their bus stop.
- In Rochester, Indiana, three children were killed at their bus stop when they were hit by the driver of a pickup truck.
- In Mississippi, a 9-year-old boy was killed by a motorist as he walked to his bus which was stopped at his bus stop waiting for him.
In some of these cases, the bus was stopped at the bus stop, with lights flashing and the stop sign arm extended when vehicles went around the bus and struck the children.
What Does the Law Say About School Bus Stop Accidents in SC?
When you see a stopped school bus, with lights flashing and a stop sign extended, do you have to stop?
- If you are behind a school bus on a two-lane or a four-lane highway, you must stop.
- If you are in the opposite lane as the bus on a two-lane highway, you must stop.
- If you in the opposite lane on a four-lane highway, you do not have to stop but you should slow down and pass with caution, staying alert for children in the road.
If you do not stop for a school bus, you may get a traffic ticket or you might even go to jail.
SC Code Section 56-5-2770 makes it a crime to pass a stopped school bus (except on a multi-lane road):
- The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction a school bus stopped on a highway or private road must stop before reaching the bus where there are in operation on the bus flashing red lights specified in State Department of Education Regulations and Specifications Pertaining to School Buses, and the driver must not proceed until the bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated.
SC Code Section 56-5-2780 sets the penalties for passing a stopped school bus in SC:
- For passing a stopped school bus, up to 30 days in jail;
- When great bodily injury results, a minimum of 60 days up to one year in prison; and
- When death results, a minimum of one year and up to five years in prison.
Reckless homicide may also apply if a driver goes around a stopped school bus and death results. “When the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury received by the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others,” the penalty is up to ten years in prison.
What if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the school bus stop accident? Felony DUI carries:
- 30 days up to 15 years when great bodily injury results; or
- From one year up to 25 years in prison when death results.
School Bus Stop Accidents in SC
This doesn’t happen in SC, does it?
- In September, a pickup truck rear-ended a school bus in Anderson, SC;
- In August, also in Anderson, SC, a school bus rear-ended another motorist but no children were hurt;
- In Abbeville, SC, last month, 17 children and four adults were hurt in a school bus crash;
- Last year, in Anderson, SC, a child’s mother was hit and killed at a bus stop just after her child boarded the school bus;
- Earlier this year, a school bus in Greenville County was struck by an eighteen-wheeler that lost control;
- In Dorchester County this September, a school bus was rear-ended by a car but there were no injuries;
- In Beaufort County last month, a school bus was struck by a van although no students were on board at the time;
- In Beaufort County this month, a school bus was struck by an SUV with students on board;
- In August, a Darlington County school bus was struck from behind with students on board;
- In Loris, SC, 17 were injured when a church bus didn’t stop for a stop sign and was struck by a pickup truck causing it to overturn;
- Last month, a Florence County school bus was involved in an accident with elementary school students aboard; and
- 13 passengers including nine children were taken to the hospital after a school bus crashed in Greenwood County last month.
Who Do I Sue if My Child Was Hurt in a School Bus Stop Accident in SC?
In many cases, you file suit against the driver who caused the accident – whether they crashed into the school bus or attempted to go around the bus while it was stopped, they are responsible for the accident and the damage that results.
Those damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages in some cases.
In other cases, you may need to file suit against the school district based on the bus driver’s negligence. In still other cases, there may be multiple defendants that may include other drivers as well as the school district.
SC School Bus Stop Accident Attorneys in Myrtle Beach
It is critical that you contact an experienced SC auto accident attorney as soon as possible after a school bus stop accident in SC – your attorney at Coastal Law will immediately begin investigating the crash and preserving evidence for your or your child’s claims.
Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or contact us through our website to talk with a SC school bus stop accident attorney in Myrtle Beach today.