Articles Posted in School Bus Accidents

Gabriel Goncalves, a 12-year-old boy who was on the autism spectrum, was riding a school bus driven by Mark Hudovenko. During the bus ride, Hudovenko swerved at 45 mph, which was 15 miles over the speed limit. This caused the bus to leave the road and collide with a tree.

Gabriel suffered serious injuries in the crash, including brain hemorrhages, a skull fracture and various lacerations.

Gabriel has been diagnosed as having a traumatic brain injury, which has led to negative behavioral changes, sensory hypersensitivity and memory loss.

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Two questions were certified for immediate appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court in a case against a school bus company, First Student Inc.  The case was brought on behalf of a student who alleged that the misconduct of a driver accused of sexually abusing a student could put the corporation owner at a heightened duty of care to the child.

“A private contractor providing student transportation services owes the students it transports the same duty of care imposed on a common carrier – that is, the highest standard of care,” the Second District Illinois Court of Appeals concluded.

The court considered this other question: “Does this quasi-common carrier standard of care necessarily require that common carriers be held vicariously liable for their employee’s intentional torts, such as sexual assaults, that are committed outside the scope of their employment, without regard to whether they have any knowledge of any such propensity?”

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Fong Yang was 16 years old with diagnoses of severe autism and Down syndrome.  Fong had a history of running away from his Fresno school when left unsupervised. 

Because of Fong’s tendency to run off, his teacher told the First Student bus dispatcher that the bus driver should not drop off Fong early at school or allow him to get off the bus after school en route to his home unless he was accompanied by an aide. 

Despite these instructions, Fong’s bus driver let him get off the bus without an aide. Fong ran half a block to an intersection, where he was hit by a car and thrown about 30 feet. Fong suffered a skull fracture, an epidural hematoma and multiple abrasions.  His medical bills totaled $78,500.

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Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe that U.S. truck and bus regulators are not catching on to serious safety hazards before fatal crashes occur.  The NTSB has stated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has known about deficiencies in bus company practices before some fatal crashes, but the agency took no steps to correct them.  The FMCSA has known about these deficiencies before the fatal accidents took place, but did not take any action to shut down carriers until afterward.  The NTSB chairman said in a statement that some of these cases are under investigation by the agency. 

The report said that there has been a long period of time — maybe years — that the FMCSA has chosen not to take action against some bus companies despite repeated safety citations. The report also reinforced the fact that the FMCSA did nothing to take some of the dangerous buses out of service and off the road. 

The chairman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, said in a statement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to crack down before more deadly crashes occur, not just after high-visibility events.  Ms. Hersman also said that poor performing bus companies were on the FMCSA’s radar for safety violations, but they did not take any action and allowed these bus companies to continue operating.

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Every school day, children are loaded onto school buses around the country.  Most school districts contract with school bus companies and drivers to transport our children to their schools. 

If something goes terribly wrong and a child is injured in a school bus crash, you need someone to advocate and fight for your family’s rights. 

Negligence by a school bus driver or another motorist can cause school bus collisions.  It is known that school bus drivers can be distracted by cell phones and GPS devices, just as other motorists can.

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