Three people were killed when two school buses collided into each other in Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday at 3:00pm. An adult teacher’s aide on one of the buses was killed. Twenty-three other children were taken to the hospital; twenty of them were released. The buses were from two different elementary schools, Sunnyview Primary School and Chilhowee Intermediate School. The children on the buses were in the kindergarten through the third grade.
The two buses were headed in opposite directions on Asheville Highway when one bus turned left for an unknown reason, crossed a concrete median, and struck the other bus on the side. The bus that was struck flipped over and slid down the highway. The other bus only received front end damage.
Accident Investigators from the Knoxville Police Department are investigating the crash with members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, but the exact cause of the crash is not known. According to The Weather Channel, there was rain in the Knoxville area at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also sent a crash investigation team to Knoxville to assist in the investigation.
Neither school held classes on Wednesday.
How could this accident have happened? Are not bus drivers supposed to be very safe? We all have experienced sitting behind a bus at a rail road stop or trying to pass a bus on an expressway when the bus is going only 45 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone.
Truck and bus drivers are professionals who may be held to a higher standard of conduct. Anyone can have an accident, even if he or she is very careful. What makes an accident rise to the level of negligence, which allows for recovery of damages from the at-fault driver, is the driver’s failure to use the same standard of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. The standard of care is usually defined by the “reasonable person” standard. However, professionals are sometimes held to the higher standard of a “reasonably prudent professional.”
Truck drivers usually receive special training. For example, in North Carolina there are three classes of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) – Class A, B and C. A commercial class C license allows one to drive a vehicle that transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver. Thus, to be a bus driver one should have at least a Class C license. To obtain any CDL, one has to have a clear driving record and has to pass a written test and a driving skills test.
After successfully completing all of the testing and training required to get a CDL, truck drivers must then comply with a lot of regulations. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) was created to help reduce or prevent truck accidents, injuries and fatalities.
Usually, the only way to find out if a commercial truck or bus driver complied with the applicable standard of care is to serve discovery (the legal term for the method of finding out facts about the opponent’s case) through the court system. Thus, most attorneys would never recommend that you settle with the commercial driver, the driver’s employer or the driver’s insurance carrier until after the lawsuit is filed.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck or bus accident, call an experienced personal injury attorney today for your free consultation.